Jackson Wang

Best of the Best Debate: Andre Ware and David Klingler

Created on Oct. 11, 2014 1:00 PM EST

Before there was Colt Brennan and Case Keenum, both of whom posted absurd yardage and touchdown statistics, there was Andre Ware and David Klingler.

Ware and Klingler both played in then Houston head coach Jack Pardee’s system, the run and shoot. The offensive scheme allowed the quarterback to pass on nearly every down, resulting in season passing totals never seen before.

While Pardee served as head coach, it was offensive coordinator John Jenkins that was the mastermind behind the high-octane offensive system. Jenkins would go on to become head coach in 1990, when Klingler became the starter.

But it was that specific offensive scheme that allowed both Ware and Klingler to become extremely success college quarterbacks.

So which one ran it better?

Case for Andre Ware:

While growing up in Texas, Andre Ware always wanted to play college football for the University of Texas. But that opportunity never came.

So instead, Ware went and played college football at Houston, where he went to throw for over 8,000 yards and 75 touchdowns in three years. In his junior year alone, the year he won the 1989 Heisman Trophy, Ware threw for nearly 4,700 yards and 46 touchdowns.

The Cougars finished 14th in the Associated Press Poll with a 9-2 record that year. Ware also went on to win the Davey O’Brien Award and was drafted seventh overall 1990 by the Detroit Lions. 

Leaving early might have been Ware’s biggest mistake, as his NFL career came to and end after just six seasons. Despite his disappointing NFL career, Ware will always be known for his accomplishments as a colligate athlete.

Case for David Klingler:

With Andre Ware leaving early for the NFL in 1990, that gave another young Houston quarterback an opportunity to shine. While fans were disappointed to see Ware depart so soon, they quickly moved on after seeing David Klingler perform.

In 1990, Klingler led Houston to a 10-1 record with their only lost coming to Texas. He also threw for over 5,100 yards and 54 touchdowns that year, breaking the NCAA record for touchdown passes in a season.

Five of Klingler’s receivers had over 500 receiving yards and at least five receiving touchdowns that season as well.

Despite his incredible numbers, Klingler failed to win the Heisman Award that year. He went on to have a successful senior year to cap off his career at Houston with nearly 9,500 passing yards and 91 touchdowns.

The Winner:

Both Ware and Klingler never had a shot at playing in a bowl game, despite qualifying in their respective years due to NCAA sanctions. That might have made it easier to decide who the better runner and shooter was. 

When you compare the two quarterbacks, it’s hard not to pick Klingler, despite Ware's Heisman Trophy. When Ware won the prestigious award in 1989, his competition was not nearly as challenging as Klingler’s opponents in 1990.

No disrespect to Anthony Thompson and Major Harris, the runner-ups of the 1989 Heisman Award, but they were not as good  as Ty Detmer and the do-it-all Raghib Ismail, the first and second place vote-getters one year later.

If Klingler faced the 1989 Heisman Trophy opponents instead of the 1990 group, he would have had a much better chance of taking home the stiff-arming trophy.

Overall, Klingler was the better college football player, as a quarterback and leader. And that shows with how many different receivers caught passes from Klinger compared to Ware.

Klingler also came up clutch in close games such as their match-ups against Texas A&M and Rice in 1990, and against Texas in 1991. That shows his ability to come through when the game is on the line, which defines a true leader.