Prior to the 2004 college football season, the Manning Award was created by the Allstate Sugar Bowl in honor of the college football accomplishments of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning. It is the only college football quarterback award that includes the candidates' bowl performances in its balloting; therefore, it is presented annually following the completion of the bowl season. The winner is selected by a panel of national media covering college football, as well as each of the Mannings.
"We are just indebted to the Sugar Bowl," Archie Manning said. "I have been a proud member of the Sugar Bowl for over 25 years and I appreciate everything they Sugar Bowl does for our community, far more than just a football game on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day, but when they created this award it was just such a compliment to Peyton and Eli and myself, and even Olivia and Cooper and our family. We appreciate them doing this and we have honored some really great young men. We were at a retirement party for Peyton and Matt Ryan was there and Matt was talking about when he and his dad came to town and we got to know them. That was quite a while back so it has been a lot of fun."
In its first 13 years, the Manning Award has recognized the top names in college football. It has honored quarterbacks from 11 different schools and from four different conferences. The Southeastern Conference (Johnny Manziel, Cam Newton, JaMarcus Russell and Tim Tebow) and the Atlantic Coast Conference (Watson twice, Ryan and Jameis Winston) lead the way with four Manning Award winners each, while Texas is the only school with two different winners (Colt McCoy and Vince Young).
Statistically, the Manning Award has seen a wide-range of quarterbacks. Ten of the Manning Award men threw for over 3,000 yards in their winning campaign, including 4,000-yard seasons from Robert Griffin III, Marcus Mariota, Ryan, Watson (twice) and Winston. On the other hand, Watson (in 2015), Young, Manziel and Newton were all 1,000-yard rushers during their Manning years.
Perhaps most impressive among the statistics of the quarterbacks recognized by the Manning Award is touchdowns scored. Eight of the winners accounted for over 40 touchdowns during their successful seasons - Mariota tallied a Manning Award-best 58 touchdowns during his winning campaign in 2014.
One of the more unique aspects of the Manning Award is the fact that it takes account of the quarterbacks' bowl performances, in addition to the regular season. Twelve of the 13 Manning Award winners won bowl games during the season they won the honor; the lone loss was by McCoy in the 2010 BCS Championship game when he suffered an early injury. In addition to Watson and McCoy, six other Manning honorees (Matt Leinart, Mariota, Newton, Tebow, Winston and Young) led their teams to the national championship game (BCS or CFP). Watson accomplished that feat twice, winning the title this season.
Previous Manning Award winners have also factored prominently in the NFL Draft as they all heard their names called on Draft Day (except for Watson, who is expected to be a top selection in the 2017 NFL Draft). Three honorees were selected No. 1 overall (Newton, Russell and Winston), while four others went No. 2 or No. 3 (Griffin, Mariota, Ryan and Young).
All the Manning Award winners follow in the footsteps of the Mannings themselves. In college, Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning combined for over 25,000 passing yards and 201 touchdowns while playing in 10 bowl games and earning four bowl MVP awards. Archie was the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft, while both Peyton and Eli were selected No. 1 overall.