BRENNAN: FAMILY HUDDLES UP FOR QB
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Terry and Betsy Brennan, front center, gathered with family and friends at Aloha Stadium last week before watching their son, Colt Brennan, play against Boise State.
Colt’s biggest fans
Proud parents reflect on their star son's gridiron successesSTORY SUMMARY »
Terry and Betsy Brennan sensed that sports would be in the future for their little boy when he insisted on hogging the ball in family games.
Tomorrow they will join a frenzied crowd at the football stadium pulling for the University of Hawaii over Washington, the final hurdle between the Warriors and a likely Bowl Championship Series game.
The football-loving Irvine, Calif., family has been on a wild ride with their son Colt during the past few years, from his much-publicized arrest at the University of Colorado to his rapid rise as Hawaii's star quarterback.
"He knows I'm his biggest fan," Terry Brennan said.
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Betsy Brennan recently took a look at some old videotapes of her son, Colt, playing football when he was just a kid, and what caught her attention was not his form on the field as much as the background noise -- from her husband.
"Colt was like 8 or 9, and he's running back and forth with the ball and you can hear Terry in the background saying, 'Get rid of the ball, get rid of the ball!'" she said with a laugh. "The same thing he yells at him now."
Only now, Terry Brennan's words are lost in the roar of the sold-out crowds at Aloha Stadium, cheering quarterback Colt Brennan and the University of Hawaii Warriors to an unbeaten record. The Warriors face the University of Washington tomorrow night in the last game of the regular season, billed as one of the most momentous ever for UH.
Asked whether he puts pressure on his 24-year-old son, Terry Brennan grinned.
"That's how they make diamonds, through pressure," he said. "A lump of coal under extreme pressure."
Added his wife, "He's probably harder on Colt than anyone."
But Terry Brennan is also Colt's "No. 1 fan." When his son was slammed to the field with a concussion three weeks ago, Terry Brennan hauled his husky 6-foot-4-inch frame to the locker room so fast he arrived at the same time Colt did, and was relieved to hear him say, "Hi, Dad."
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Before returning to practice Tuesday, University of Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan spent time with his father, Terry, at left.
The elder Brennan, 56, is known as "the Ticketmaster" and lines up seats and handles logistics for hordes of relatives and friends to attend every game, from here to Louisiana. More than 90 turned out for the Las Vegas contest, coming from as far as Boston.
"There's nothing greater than college football," Terry Brennan insisted.
The Warriors are riding high after winning their first outright Western Athletic Conference Championship. And so are the Brennans, an Irvine, Calif., family that has been on a roller-coaster ride with Colt ever since he entered the University of Colorado and got booted off the football team.
Since arriving in Hawaii in the summer of 2005, Brennan has piled up national marks, including the most touchdown passes thrown in a single season (58), as well as the major-college record for career touchdown passes at 126. The state has embraced the Orange County native with the disarming smile and fail-safe arm as one of their own. One young couple even named their baby after him.
Much of Brennan's success in the islands stems from his low-key style and easy personal touch. When the media spotlight shines on him, he credits his teammates and coaches, and the words are heartfelt. He took three semesters of Samoan to connect with his offensive lineman. At one point he braided his hair in solidarity with his dreadlocked receivers.
"I think he knew when he came over here that he had to lay low," said Betsy Brennan, noting that her son was warned that local residents often give pushy outsiders a hard time. "He was quiet, unassuming and humble."
Brennan's humility stemmed not just from his desire to fit in, but the plunge in his life's path before joining the Warriors. In January 2004, midway through his freshman year at the University of Colorado, a female student accused him of entering her dorm room, drunk and uninvited, and fondling her -- a charge he denied.
The sexual charge was dismissed, but Brennan was convicted of first-degree criminal trespass and second-degree burglary. He was sentenced to seven days in jail and four years' probation. He still has a little more than a year left on that probation and must stay out of trouble and avoid alcohol.
It was an ordeal for the whole family and a jarring lesson for Brennan, whose only brush with the law had been the occasional parking ticket, his father said.
"He learned that you can't take anything for granted," Terry Brennan said. "Adversity can touch anyone. There's maturity and responsibility for your actions, and there's a toll for making poor decisions."
Added his wife, "He didn't give up; he kept plugging along. And he could have. The press was ugly, even in our hometown. We didn't know how to handle it. They said a lot of bad things that weren't true."
Hawaii gave Brennan a fresh start, and he has honored that trust. His decision to stay and play his senior year in Hawaii, rather than going professional, further endeared him to local fans. He finished sixth in last year's Heisman Trophy voting for outstanding college football player.
Even before Colt Brennan had a say in the matter, his parents had a hunch he would be into sports. Their top choices of names for their newborn were Colton and Maverick. He has looked the part since he was 3, when his favorite outfit was a Rams replica uniform. His Pee Wee coach made him a quarterback at age 9.
Colt, who has two sisters, grew up watching his older cousins play football and trying to get in on the game, even as a towheaded toddler.
"Colt was always the youngest, and he tried to hang with them," Betsy Brennan said. "We'd have football games at Thanksgiving. He was always too young, and he was always upset he would have to sit on the side."
"And when he got in," her husband added, "he always wanted the ball. Everybody had to stand around and give Colt the ball until he got so tired he had to go to the sidelines and suck his thumb."
The family also spent a lot of time at the beach, and Colt loved diving into the surf to catch balls thrown by his father.
"I'd time it so that when I threw the ball, he'd have to reach up to get it, and just about that time the wave would smash into him," Brennan said. "That was good practice. Kind of like those linebackers and defensive ends hitting him."
His cousins played football in college, and one of them now plays for a professional team in Japan. Brad Brennan of the Fujitsu Frontiers has learned to speak Japanese and is now mastering the written language.
"Brad has embraced the culture there, like Colt's embraced it here," said Betsy Brennan, 55. "All the nephews are like Colt. They're all cute, outgoing; they love people. Terry's side of the family has got a gift."
Like other Warrior parents, the Brennans have been crisscrossing the country to follow their boys. Terry Brennan, a residential and commercial broker, said the market downturn has given him more time. Betsy will take the red-eye home to Irvine Sunday night to do payroll for her family business.
Gary and Gay Patek of Victoria, Texas, sold their cars and opted for older ones so they would not have car payments and could use the money for trips to watch their son, safety Jake Patek.
"You know it's worth it," Gay Patek said. "It's so exciting. It's just a very special time for our family."
The Warriors are now poised for tomorrow's contest and a possible berth in a Bowl Championship Series game. Betsy Brennan is not sure she wants to sit next to her husband at the game tomorrow.
"He gets pretty intense," said Betsy, the referee in the family.
"It's a good intense," her husband cut in.
With so much riding on the outcome, nerves are starting to build.
"Here we go," Terry Brennan said with a smile. "The good news is that the state of Hawaii and the people of Hawaii are on the same roller coaster that we are. We're not alone."