Bo Wallace. After this weekend, the name will forever be etched into Ole Miss history. For three football seasons, Wallace has become controversial, the face of the current program, and now, will go down as the greatest Ole Miss quarterback of all-time when he breaks Eli Manning’s school record of total offense. Wallace has been a letdown at times for some fans, and relief to the prior turmoil experienced by others. After Saturday, his accomplishments cannot be argued. His tenure at Ole Miss will have been greater than any other previous quarterback to suit up in a Rebel uniform.
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How do you define greatness? One would argue that Eli Manning “is” the greatest Ole Miss quarterback of all-time. Is that defined by awards? Sure, Manning won the Conerly Trophy, the yearly award for the State of Mississippi’s best all-around athlete, but so has Wallace.
Does one define greatness by records? Eli Manning finished his career at Ole Miss with a 137.7 quarterback rating. This rating is measured by a quarterback’s passing performance, and if one is higher than 100, you know that is very successful. Bo Wallace currently averages with a career 144.4 quarterback rating.
Bo Wallace has been scrutinized for his excessive amount of interceptions. Many fans would consider the 2012 season as the worst for Wallace. In that season, Wallace played with an injured throwing arm. He threw 17 interceptions that season. It was a stat that Ole Miss fans frowned upon, and it stood as the worst in the nation. In Eli Manning’s worst season, he threw 15 interceptions, with a 125.6 quarterback rating. The 2012 season for Wallace may had consisted 17 interceptions, but he finished with a 142.7 quarterback rating, and had a better touchdown-interception ratio than Eli’s worst season.
Eli finished averaging 60.8 in completion percentage, averaging 7.4 yards per completion. Wallace currently carries a 64.2 completion percentage, averaging 8.1 yards. Eli’s most profound record held at Ole Miss is total offense, where he finished with 9,984 yards. That is very impressive. However, through seven less games than Eli played, Wallace is just 54 yards behind him.
Maybe one would measure greatness by the success of wins? Eli played in two bowl games, and was the game MVP in both of them. Bo Wallace has played in two as well, and was also the MVP in both games. He is in pursuit of starting in his third-straight bowl game, the most by any Ole Miss quarterback. One of Eli’s greatest victories was against a #6 ranked Florida. Wallace has beaten a #6 ranked LSU and a #1 ranked Alabama. In the 2002 win over #6 Florida, Eli completed 18 passes on 33 attempts for 151 yards and did not throw a touchdown pass. Bo Wallace went 30-for-39 and threw for 346 yards in the win over #6 LSU in the 2013 season. He backed up that performance against a high ranked team, when he threw for 251 yards and three touchdowns in the win over top-ranked Alabama this season.
So, will Bo Wallace etch his name as the greatest Ole Miss quarterback of all-time when he surpasses Eli Manning’s school record of total offense on Saturday? The answer is yes. Even with the stats to backup Wallace’s case, some fans don’t want to let go of the Manning history as the greatest to step foot on campus. Maybe it is time to let that go. Don’t measure Eli’s success at Ole Miss based on his NFL career. Wallace is not there yet, and I for one would agree Wallace may never amount to what Eli has in the NFL, but we are talking Ole Miss. By the records, by the wins, and by the stats, Bo Wallace is the better quarterback at Ole Miss. Whether you like it or not, on Saturday, Bo Wallace will go down as the greatest Ole Miss quarterback of all-time. Maybe it is time to consider building a Wallace Way, or adopting a new speed limit on campus?