Colt-mania goes national
The UH star stays focused in the spotlight
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Despite a recent wave of national publicity, the Hawaii football team's equipment staff is not fitting Colt Brennan for a bigger helmet just yet.
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His teammates make sure of that.
"They do a good job of making sure whoever's getting a lot of the publicity during a certain time, they usually attack them, make fun of them, bring them right back down to humility," Brennan said.
"We have fun. We call him Mr. Heisman, Mr. ESPN," said receiver Davone Bess. "It comes with the territory."
Following a record-breaking junior season, quarterback Brennan is returning to lead the Warrior offense and has been the subject of unprecedented national attention for a UH athlete in the run-up to a highly anticipated 2007 season.
"I've been here 26 years, and people who have been here for a lot longer say that he is probably one of the most celebrated athletes we've had in Hawaii," UH assistant coach Dan Morrison said.
And while his teammates have fun teasing him, they also appreciate Brennan's willingness to share credit for the Warriors' success.
SB FILE / APRIL 2007
Despite demands on his time, Colt Brennan has taken time to sign autographs when possible.
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For Hawaii quarterbacks coach Dan Morrison, working with Colt Brennan on the field yesterday was the easy part.
Getting him off the field -- that was a little more challenging.
National media that have or are scheduled to run features on Colt Brennan this month.
» ESPN Magazine
» Sports Illustrated
» The Sporting News
» The New York Times
» The Los Angeles Times
» Associated Press
» USA Today
» ESPN Radio
» ABC Sports Radio
» ESPN College Gameday
Source: UH sports media relations
After Brennan addressed the group of local media, posed for photos with a high school team visiting from Japan and signed autographs for fans, part of Morrison's duties was shepherding the Heisman Trophy candidate out of the practice-field area so he could get cleaned up for class.
"We have to make sure he's out of here at a fairly decent time because he'll be here for a long time," Morrison said while keeping an eye on Brennan as he penned his name onto another photo.
"He has a hard time saying no to people, and I hope the community understands that it can be overwhelming. ... We want to try to simplify his life to a certain degree."
Good luck with that, Coach.
In the midst of preparing for a highly anticipated season that begins Saturday against Northern Colorado, Brennan has been the subject of a recent national media blitz and taken a place among the state's most celebrated athletes.
Which raises the question, "Who's the most famous person from Hawaii now -- Dog the Bounty Hunter or Colt Brennan?"
"I don't know the stats on that," UH coach June Jones said with a laugh. "But I can't think of anyone from Hawaii right now more popular than Colt."
Over the past week, feature stories on Brennan were published in Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and USA Today, along with wire service pieces sent to newspapers across the country.
The attention is part of an already unprecedented August for a Hawaii program voted into the preseason national rankings for the first time in its history.
And with talk of the No. 23 Warriors being a potential BCS crasher buzzing about, outlets have been eager to detail Brennan's path to redemption, from his legal troubles in Colorado to his ascent as a Heisman candidate in Hawaii.
The requests meant spending much of his down time during fall camp recounting his tale for reporters while tooling around the island for photo shoots.
"Everybody came in the same week and really ran me ragged," said Brennan, who shaved off the braids he sported during the summer for an SI shoot. "But that's over and done with and I've been able to practice and get ready and I'm back to my normal routine."
Though he finds himself repeatedly recounting his journey, Brennan hasn't backed down from addressing his past along with talking about his current station as the nation's top college passer and an NFL future.
"It's just something I can't shy away from," Brennan said. "If people are going to talk about it you might as well really try to stress for them to say the right things and get it accurate. Some people have, some people haven't. Time will tell."
"It's good to see some of the reporters have taken a little more time to look into the whole scenario," said Terry Brennan, Colt's father. "The Colorado thing happened and we're trying to move on. ... It would be nice to see it go away at some point, but that's part of the deal."
With Brennan coming off a sixth-place showing in the Heisman race last season, the UH athletic department distributed 1,000 DVDs promoting Brennan for the award and a Web site dedicated to his candidacy has registered close to 30,000 hits according to associate athletic director John McNamara.
But he said Brennan's tale is one that tends to sell itself.
"He's created the message, we're just the messengers," McNamara said. "The DVD was a way for us to spread the news, but he told the story. If Colt wasn't the phenomenal story he was, you wouldn't see those types of numbers or that type of impact."
As the Warriors headed into game preparations this week, UH sports media relations structured Brennan's availability. He's scheduled to have a teleconference for national media on Mondays and will be available to local reporters after Wednesday practices only.
Although there weren't enough takers to hold the national teleconference this week, the phone lines will liven up if the Warriors and Brennan live up to the preseason projections.
But given Brennan's even demeanor, the coaches aren't all that worried about him being distracted by the glare as the attention intensifies.
"I think he's pretty good at keeping an eye on things and we're trying to help him with this stuff," Morrison said. "He's always handled it with grace and sincerity."
Dave Reardon of the Star-Bulletin contributed to this report.