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7/1 Roundtable - The Most Unbreakable Record
Hawaii QB Timmy Chang
Hawaii QB Timmy Chang
Posted Jul 1, 2009

7/1 Roundtable - What record is more unbreakable, Timmy Chang's 17,072 career passing yards (No. 2 is Graham Harrell with 15,793), or Al Brosky's 29 career interceptions (No. 2 has 27)? It's the Wednesday topic in the CFN Daily Roundtable Discussion.

CFN Daily Roundtables

July 1

The most unbreakable record is ... ?

Over the next several weeks, as part of the CFN 2009 Preview, we'll examine some of the key questions going into the year with a daily discussion of the big topics.

Past Roundtables
June 30 Does it matter that the BCS is going to ESPN?
June 29 What's the best non-BCS program?
June 26
What rule would you like to see changed?

June 25
What is wrong with the Big Ten?

June 24 The 3 big non-conference games

June 23 The Coach On The Biggest Hot Seat Is ... ?
June 22 The No. 5 team will be ... ?

June 19
The most underrated team will be ... ?

June 18 The most overrated team will be ... ?
June 17 The sleeper national title teams
June 16 Do 40 Times Really Matter?
June 15 Does college football need a Rooney Rule?
June 12 Should Alabama vacate wins?
June 11 Should college football players be paid?
June 10 Is the recruiting hype too much?
June 9 If you were starting an NFL team ...
June 8 Where would you take over as head coach?
June 5 Who does the least with the most?
June 4 Who does the most with the least?
June 3 The star players of September
June 2 The star teams of September
June 1 The coach you'd want for one game
May 28 Should the Big Ten expand, and if so, then what team should be added?
May 27 Should the Pac 10 expand? If so, then what two teams should be added?
May 26 Chizik, Kiffin or Mullen?
May 25 Heisman race sleepers 
May 22 2009's most interesting teams

May 21 Is Tebow the best QB ever?
May 20 When should preseason polls come out?
May 19 Does 2008 Utah have a beef?
May 18
No BCS, No Weis?

Pete Fiutak, CFN

Yes, I'm part of the problem. You can check me out at and find out future roundtable topics and other random musings.

Q: What record is more unbreakable, Timmy Chang's 17,072 career passing yards (No. 2 is Graham Harrell with 15,793), or Al Brosky's 29 career interceptions (No. 2 has 27)?

Considering Brosky set the record at Illinois in 1952 and it has stood the test of time, even with the influx of more passing teams, that might be the right call, but I'm going with Chang's record because of the sheer math involved.

In order to beat Chang, a quarterback will have to average over 303 yards per game, every game, for 56 games. That would mean a player would have to go to a conference title game and get to a bowl game in every year and be fantastic every week. Chang's situation will never happen again. He got a sixth year of eligibility, he got the Hawaii rule, meaning an extra game ever year, and he got bowl games. That means he ended up playing 53 games over the course of four years and three games of the 2001 season.

Chang, in the June Jones offense, had his down days, but the volume of numbers in his career will be next to impossible to duplicate unless someone starts for four years at a place like Texas Tech and is dominant, averaging around 320 yards per game. It seems like it might be doable in today's day and age, but it's going to take something extremely unique for anyone to come close.

Only Harrell and Ty Detmer have come within 2,000 yards of Chang (let that sink in for a moment), while several players have been in sniffing distance of Brosky's record. To break it, it's going to take a safety, or a full-time nickel back who gets room to roam, to come up with a stellar career. In a perfect world, the player comes up with a monster freshman season, making 11 interceptions, and then is steadily good over the next three years even with teams trying to stay away from him.

Wake Forest's Alphonso Smith just finished up his great career and he came up with 21 picks. Former Wisconsin great Jamar Fletcher had 21 in three years before turning pro; he would've finished within sniffing distance. It's going to be hard, UL Monroe's Greg James currently has 13 with one year to go, while Tennessee's Eric Berry has 12 with two years left (although he's all but gone after this year). Brosky, a college football Hall of Famer who made 11 interceptions in 1950, ten in 1951, and eight in 1952, can rest easy for a while, but somewhere out there is a ball-hawker who'll some day break the record.

Richard Cirminiello, CFN

Q: What record is more unbreakable, Timmy Chang's 17,072 career passing yards (No. 2 is Graham Harrell with 15,793), or Al Brosky's 29 career interceptions (No. 2 has 27)?

Well, Brosky’s record appears safer, if for nothing else, it’s stood for more than half a century. Plus, the really good thieves will get avoided by opposing quarterbacks, so once you’ve become Eric Berry or Trevard Lindley, it gets harder and harder to get good looks at interceptions.

As long as Mike Leach and June Jones are employed, Chang’s record will be somewhat vulnerable. It’s going to take a four-year starter and a string of good health, but if a Texas Tech, SMU, Houston, or Tulsa quarterback earns the job as a freshman, the opportunity to reach Chang’s numbers will absolutely be there, especially with 13, and sometimes 14, games a year counting toward the record books.

Matthew Zemek, CFN

Q: What record is more unbreakable, Timmy Chang's 17,072 career passing yards (No. 2 is Graham Harrell with 15,793), or Al Brosky's 29 career interceptions (No. 2 has 27)?

Brosky’s 29 interceptions. Passing offenses will continue to proliferate, and given a weak conference, there will surely be a hotshot QB who will light up a stat sheet as consistently as Chang did. On the other hand, QB coaches and passing gurus won’t allow their passers to continue to throw the ball to one stud cornerback, time and time again. The laws of averages suggest that a yardage record is easier to break than an interception record (within certain limits).

Hunter Ansley, Publisher,

Q: What record is more unbreakable, Timmy Chang's 17,072 career passing yards (No. 2 is Graham Harrell with 15,793), or Al Brosky's 29 career interceptions (No. 2 has 27)?

A: With the way the game is headed, the passing record will fall long before the interception record. More and more teams are switching to spread systems, and that means more and more passing yards. With programs like Texas Tech running schemes that allow them to plug in just about any quarterback and end up with a 4000 yard passer, Timmy Chang’s days atop the books may be numbered. I’ll honestly be shocked if Taylor Potts fails to throw for that many yards in 2009, and he’s an inexperienced guy who only threw 36 balls last year.

And it’s not just that a junior or senior can do it, it’s that more and more freshman quarterbacks are being handed the reins. Look at Kellen Moore up at Boise. Their offense is certainly not the super-spread that Mike Leach runs, but Moore was still able to put up 3486 yards as a rookie. Imagine what will happen the next time the Red Raiders get a hold of a worth 18 year old. It’s going to take a four year starter to break the record, but with more guys heading to the NFL as underclassmen, more freshmen are getting early opportunities.

Then there’s the spread strategy’s effect on defenses. Spreading the field horizontally gives quarterbacks fewer difficult throws to worry about, thus cutting down on interceptions. Look at some of the completion percentages among top passers working in spread-derived systems. Of the top 15 QBs by passer efficiency last season, only two came from pro-style offenses. And only one had a completion percentage less than 64. Defensive backs are facing more throws, but fewer chances to pick the ball off. When the returning leader in career interceptions is heading into his senior season with less than half the number of picks of the record holder, you know the record is relatively safe.

Jon Miller, Publisher,

Q: What record is more unbreakable, Timmy Chang's 17,072 career passing yards (No. 2 is Graham Harrell with 15,793), or Al Brosky's 29 career interceptions (No. 2 has 27)?

I know that Chang’s passing numbers are freakishly phenomenal and as you listed McCoy as the returning leader with less than 10,000, that is something. To tie Chang’s record, a quarterback would have to average 4,268 yards per season over four years. Schools are playing more games now than they used to. If someone is passing for that many yards, they are a) probably going to a bowl game. So that is 52 games over four years, not counting if that player would play in a conference championship game. That would be 328 yards per game over a 52 game career. Wow…that’s a lot of passing.

Three players had a better average per game last year; Graham Harrell of Texas Tech, Case Keenum of Houston and Sam Bradford of Oklahoma. Chase Clement of Rice was in the discussion with 316 per game. Four players were over the 328 yard mark in 2007, with Harrell leading the way at 438 yards per game. You should also take into account the era of college football we are in; most schools are running some variation of a spread offense, that has become an extended running game, with short passes that rack up yards. A 300-yard passing game is not what it used to be say 20 or even 10 years ago. So kids are going to put up more yards, and there is going to be a freshman that comes along as a four year starter and puts up huge numbers. The aforementioned Keenum has over 7,000 yards passing in his first two years in college at Houston. He threw for 5,000 last year. If he does that again, twice, he is in Chang territory. Still not likely, but not crazy, either. Plus, all of the names we are discussing here are contemporary.

The interceptions record holder played college football shortly after the days where facemasks were optional, back in the early 1950’s. That should tell you something about this record right now. That record was set just a decade after Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak and roughly a decade before Roger Maris’ summer of 61 homers. Interceptions are a much more difficult variable to control. Right place right time, luck, skill, the league you play in, the brand of offenses you face, your team’s ability to stop the run, the quality of the rest of you secondary, all of those factor into interceptions, plus more I didn’t mention.

There is a tie for second place at 27…the second time coming between 1980-1983, which is nearly 30 years ago. Oh by the way, Brosky played in an era where freshmen were ineligible to play varsity sports, so what he did in three years, others cannot do in even four.