Opinion: Blue Bombers’ QB Zach Collaros wrongfully denied joining Doug Flutie CFL MOP territory

Caption: Photos: Neil Noonan/Scott Grant. Photo edit: John Hodge/3DownNation

Zach Collaros was denied an opportunity to join Doug Flutie in rarified CFL air.

Toronto Argonauts’ head coach Ryan Dinwiddie seems to believe Collaros is playing like arguably the greatest player in CFL history, as he recently admitted he’s told Collaros: “Man, you’re looking like Flutie.”

That would be the same quarterback who is the only player ever to win the league’s Most Oustanding Player award more than two years in a row. During his exceptional run in the 1990s, Flutie captured the award for four consecutive years from 1991 to 1994.

Collaros had his two-year reign as MOP end suddenly as Winnipeg voters picked Canadian running back Brady Oliveira over the Blue Bombers’ franchise QB. Oliveira had a highly productive season and it’s not as if he doesn’t deserve the nomination, but Collaros’ greatness undoubtedly hurt him when ballots were cast.

Flutie had six fewer passing touchdowns and six more interceptions in 1992 than the year prior, yet he was still named MOP. Collaros had four fewer passing touchdowns and two more interceptions in 2023 than the year before, which voters seem to be holding against him. However, No. 8 still led the CFL in QB rating (112.8), touchdown passes (33), and recorded the highest average yards per attempt of his career (10.1).

It’s comparing two different eras but Flutie, who was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2008, never came close to that in one season with a career-high of 9.1.

In 1994, Flutie’s teammate, receiver Allen Pitts, was his stiffest competition for MOP. The QB won on the strength of a single-season record 48 passing touchdowns, 21 of which were caught by No. 18 to set the all-time mark (surpassed by Milt Stegall in 2002 with 23). Pitts posted the most receiving yards in one season with 2,036 that year.

Take that in.

Oliveira put forth fantastic numbers — 1,498 rushing yards, 482 receiving yards, and 13 touchdowns — but they’re not among the greatest rushing seasons for a running back in CFL history. Mike Pringle tops the list with 2,065 yards in 1998 with players like Willie Burden, Jon Cornish, and Earl Lunsford still far above what Oliveira accomplished this year.

If you take the threat of Collaros inside and outside the pocket away, the Winnipeg native’s statistics would be vastly different. That’s similar to what voters decided with Flutie and Pitts in 1994 when one of the best receivers in league history set a single-season yardage record that still hasn’t been surpassed nearly 30 years later.

Oliveira had a great season and should not be discounted, but Flutie had a down year in 1992 and did not have his greatness taken for granted. Since the turn of the decade, Collaros has dominated at a Flutie-like level, the same player who is praised, rightfully so, as the greatest QB ever to play pro football in Canada.

There was never any voter fatigue that set in with Flutie and that shouldn’t have happened with Collaros.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.