Sean Mannion isn’t legacy hunting. The Oregon State quarterback isn’t occupied with annals or focused on the figures.
Quite the opposite, actually. He’s sort of ticked off that his team struggled down the 2013 stretch and is eager to make amends. Records, stats and his place in OSU history aren’t at the vanguard of his thought process. Of course, satisfaction can’t be his until the Beavers kick off the 2014 season at home against Portland State.
And yet, as a soon-to-be-four-year starter, Mannion has put himself in position to be one of the greatest statistical quarterbacks in the history of the conference. He already set the single-season passing yards record this season with 4,662. He’s 10th on the all-time list with 10,436 and needs just 1,874 passing yards next year to pass Matt Barkley as the all-time leader.
“The only stat that matters to me, especially given the way we closed out last season, is the wins and losses,” said Mannion, who set a school record with 37 touchdown passes last year but watched a 6-1 start turn into a 7-6 finish. “For me, the only thing I have on my mind right now is improving our team and getting more wins.”
Come on, Sean. There has to be some part of you that thinks it would be cool to be the league’s all-time passing leader.
“Of course something like that would mean something when my playing days are over,” he said. “It would be pretty special. But not because of what I did. But because of the other names on that list. If I could put myself among those other guys, it would be a tremendous honor and extremely humbling. The Pac-12 has had a ton of great quarterbacks. And if I’m a small part of that list, that would be really special.
“I’ll worry about that after my playing days.”
Things are going to be a little more interesting for Mannion in his final season. Gone are A-list wide receivers he’s had the pleasure of working with in his first three seasons such as James Rodgers, Markus Wheaton and 2013 Biletnikoff winner Brandin Cooks.
Also gone is the only offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach he’s ever known as a college player, Danny Langsdorf, who accepted the quarterbacks coach job with the New York Giants. In fact, the opportunity to continue working with Langsdorf was one of the reasons Mannion cited for returning for another season.
However, Mannion said that even if Langsdorf had left earlier in the month, his decision to return for another season wouldn’t have changed.
“My reasoning for coming back was to have another year with my teammates and have another year to improve as a player,” Mannion said. “While I really enjoy working with Langs, it wasn’t going to be a deal-breaker. I love Oregon State and I’m excited to continue my career here. It’s disappointing that I won’t be working with him because we were really close. But at the same time I’m excited for the new coordinator and quarterback’s coach.
“It’s a bummer ... but talking to him, not only am I extremely happy for him, that’s a great situation for him and he’ll do really, really great things there, but he was saying it will do me some good to get another set of eyes on me and get another perspective and get a chance to step back and learn some new things and some new techniques from a new coach.”
Mannion doesn’t need another set of eyes to see where things went wrong in 2013. Through the first seven games, he was the toast of college football with 29 touchdowns to three interceptions. Over the last six, those numbers nosedived to eight touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The second half of the Beavers' schedule featured Stanford, USC, Arizona State, Washington, Oregon and Boise State. It doesn’t take a Fields Medal winner to do that math -- Mannion and the Beavers struggled against upper-echelon teams.
“I felt pretty happy with the way I played through the first six or seven games,” Mannion said. “Even within those tough losses I felt good about a lot of stuff and a lot of the throws I made. But at the same time I think there were things I can definitely correct as a player. I want to be more consistent at eliminating those mistakes and not have those four or five plays that I want back in a given game. If I can get better at that to go from four to three and three to two it will serve me as a player and help my team.”