The question is now inevitable: is Matt Connell the best quarterback in CIS history? This is very difficult to answer ... his 9-30 record since he took over in 2004 doesn't play in his favour [but] we'll always wonder what he could have done if he played for a better team ... Would his statistics be better, worse, the same? We can't be sure.-- Rémi Aboussouan, RDS [translation mine, Google translation here]
It's a fair question. If you stuck Connell in place of Benoît Groulx in the Laval offence (or put Groulx on McGill), how big would the difference be?
We know the Redmen love to throw the ball, either because they have Connell or because they don't have a running game or both. Their large number of passing plays will inevitably make their quarterback's raw totals more impressive, but without any serious threats on the ground, you'd think McGill's opponents would be able to cover the pass better than they have.
We also know that, by at least one measure, Connell has consistently been middle-of-the-pack or worse on a per-attempt basis (2008 looks to be more of the same). But he scores higher when his team gets better, so it's not clear whether the tail or dog is doing the wagging here.
It's difficult to objectively evaluate a quarterback in the CIS given the limited statistical information we have, and few people a) have seen enough of most CIS QBs and b) can separate their abilities from that of their receivers to judge where Connell falls on the best-to-worst list. Any attempt to play the "what if he always threw to an average receiver behind an average offensive line?" game will just bring us back to where we started.
Admittedly, it seems a little farfetched that Matt Connell even could be considered the best quarterback in Quebec, let alone the rest of the country, but that doesn't mean he wasn't extremely valuable to his team. In true Canadian middle-ground style, maybe that's the best answer.