LSU Football: Why Joe Burrow isn’t the greatest transfer QB of all time

LSU football quarterback Joe Burrow (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
LSU football quarterback Joe Burrow (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

Former LSU football quarterback Joe Burrow was the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft after leading the Tigers to a national championship.

When LSU football landed Joe Burrow as a graduate transfer from Ohio State in 2018, there wasn’t a lot of hype.

Burrow, a former four-star recruit, chose LSU over Cincinnati — it’s not like the Tigers had to beat out Alabama or Clemson for him.

The former Buckeye, however, ended up becoming one of the most important players that’s ever played in Baton Rouge.

Burrow’s 2019 season will go down as one of the greatest seasons ever for a college football player. 5,671 passing yards, 60 touchdowns and only six interceptions. Those numbers are still hard to wrap my head around nearly five months after the season ended.

When you consider all that Burrow accomplished, he has to be the greatest transfer quarterback of all time, right?

Insane stats, Heisman Trophy, national championship, No. 1 draft pick. Burrow did it all for LSU after transferring from Ohio State.

Rivals recruiting director Mike Farrell, however, believes there’s another transfer quarterback that tops the list.

And he might actually be right.

Farrell recently ranked the top transfer quarterbacks that he’s covered and he has Cam Newton (who transferred to Auburn after stints at Florida and Blinn C.C.) at No. 1 (ahead of Burrow, Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Justin Fields — in that order).

Newton accounted for 4,327 total yards and 50 touchdowns (30 passing and 20 rushing), while throwing seven interceptions during his lone season at Auburn.

Burrow, meanwhile, accounted for 6,039 total yards and 65 touchdowns in 2019.

Obviously Burrow had the better stats (he played in one more game than Newton). But Newton arguably had the bigger impact.

That’s because Newton didn’t have near the talent around him at Auburn that Burrow had at LSU.

None of the wide receivers or running backs from Auburn’s 2010 team were selected in the NFL draft. Only two of Newton’s offensive linemen were selected and both of them were out of the league within three years (Lee Ziemba and Brandon Mosley).

The 2009 Auburn team without Newton was 8-5. The 2011 Auburn team without Newton was also 8-5. The 2010 Auburn team without Newton probably would’ve been 8-5 as well (at best).

Newton basically took a team with very little talent and willed it to a national championship. It’s hard to argue that a transfer quarterback had a bigger impact on a program than Newton had on Auburn.

Now, that’s not to take away from Burrow. I think he’s a once in a generation quarterback. And I think he’ll be a better NFL quarterback than Newton.

But what happened at LSU last season wasn’t just the result of Burrow transferring from Ohio State.

It was also Ed Orgeron’s ability to evolve, Joe Brady and Steve Ensminger meshing together, and an incredibly talented roster that saw 14 players get selected in the 2020 NFL Draft (and more will be selected in 2021 and 2022).

Does LSU go 15-0 and dominate without Burrow?

Probably not.

But 2019 LSU without Burrow absolutely crushes 2010 Auburn without Newton.

And that’s why Farrell got this one right.