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Friday, November 19, 2004



[ COLLEGE FOOTBALL ]


art
COURTESY OF LARRY JOHNSON
Michael Harrington was recruited by many schools, but only Idaho offered a scholarship.


Future of Vandals lies
in Harrington’s hand

Joey’s brother has completed
65 percent of his passes
at Idaho, not Oregon

Vandals were a marauding tribe of fifth-century warriors. Ducks go "quack," get filled with buckshot and have their livers turned into foie gras.

By the numbers

Key statistics of Idaho quarterback Michael Harrington:

Year G ATT. C YDS.
2002 4 57 27 272
2003 7 196 90 996
2004 11 322 211 2,026

Single-game highs » Yards: 328 vs. North Texas on Nov. 13, 2004 » Attempts: 50 vs. Boise State on Sept. 13, 2003 Source: University of Idaho

Unfortunately for Idaho of the Sun Belt (but next year, the WAC), nicknames is pretty much where it ends in outranking Oregon of the Pac-10 on the status scale.

But Vandals quarterback Michael Harrington doesn't let that bother him, even though his brother, Joey, and his father, John, and an uncle all played for the more prestigious school.

Michael could've gone to Oregon, following his Heisman Trophy-finalist brother -- but only as an invited walk-on.

"I was recruited by the bigger schools, but not offered (a scholarship)," Harrington said. "Some wanted me to gray-shirt (come in later). Idaho was the only one who said right away."

When Harrington chose Idaho, the Vandals were coming off a 7-4 season in 1999 and they went 5-6 when he was a high school senior in 2000. He didn't foresee just nine wins over the next four years.

"When I committed, they were ranked fifth in the nation in offense. Everything was there, a winning program," he said. "Since then there's been a little adversity, and we're trying to dig ourselves out and head in the right direction."

In his junior season, the 6-foot-4, 199-pound Harrington has done his part -- except for throwing more interceptions (11) than touchdowns (10). He's completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,026 yards, and he's done it without a dependable running game or any continuity on the offensive line.

"He grew up a lot and came into his own this year," senior safety Simeon Stewart said. "He was a little shaky at first and the blocking wasn't good, so I understand that he had to do some dancing, but he's getting better at recognizing defenses. He's stepping up as a leader. Very vocal, but always positive."

Harrington's brother plays for the Detroit Lions. They talk to each other usually twice a week, he said.

"It's awesome. He's a good resource when we're talking football. He's a guy who's been through everything. Highs at Oregon, lows at Detroit. When he first got to Detroit we were both in the West Coast offense. We were both learning the same thing, so we could help each other."

Idaho coach Nick Holt said Harrington improved over the course of the season.

"He's done everything asked of him, and with a good attitude. He's thrown the ball well at times and made good decisions and played well down the stretch," Holt said.

The Vandals arrived yesterday and practiced at Aloha Stadium. It is their 12th and final game in 12 weeks. Harrington is among many Idaho players who plan to spend a few extra days in the islands.

"I'm ready for the schedule to come to an end," Harrington said. "What better place than Hawaii?"

At one time, Michael Harrington might have answered his own question with Eugene, Ore. But not today.

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