CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Colt Brennan is on college football's short list along with Florida's Tim Tebow, Missouri's Chase Daniel and Arkansas' Darren McFadden as finalists for the Heisman Trophy
Colt among chosen few
UH QB, 3 others vie for college's top individual honor
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A power outage prevented much of Hawaii from getting the official word in a timely manner yesterday. But the news had slipped out Tuesday night, and most already knew:
Colt Brennan is a Heisman Trophy finalist.
The last Heisman Trophy winner not from one of the six major conferences was Brigham Young quarterback Ty Detmer in 1990. Here are the winners from the last 5 years:
» 2002: Carson Palmer, USC, QB, Sr.
» 2003: Jason White, Oklahoma, QB, Jr.
» 2004: Matt Leinart, USC, QB, Jr.
» 2005: Reggie Bush, USC, RB, Jr.
» 2006: Troy Smith, Ohio State, QB, Sr.
» Heisman Presentation: 3 p.m. Saturday (Hawaii time), ESPN
It's still taking some time to sink in, since it ranks at least with Al Noga's first-team All-American rating in 1986 as the greatest individual achievement for a University of Hawaii football player.
Brennan leaves tonight for New York, where he will be joined by the three other finalists: Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel, Arkansas running back Darren McFadden and Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.
Voting ended yesterday, and most polls and conjecture have Tebow becoming the first sophomore to win in the 73-year history of the award.
Brennan is the first player with Hawaii ties to be a finalist. He was sixth in the voting last year, and Washington State quarterback Jason Gesser, a Saint Louis school graduate, was seventh in 2002.
Two other players from Brennan's high school, Mater Dei in Santa Ana, Calif., have won the Heisman Trophy. Brennan's former teammate there, USC quarterback Matt Leinart, won in 2004. John Huarte, who played at Notre Dame after Mater Dei, won in 1964.
"I got two calls from (Leinart yesterday)," Brennan said. "He's all fired up. He said he's really disappointed, but he can't make it out to the festivities. But he said, 'Soak it up. They'll take care of you. Enjoy everything.'"
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Colt Brennan led Hawaii to four second-half comebacks this season alone, and capped 2007 with his two finest performances of the year.
But it probably wasn't enough for him to catch Florida quarterback Tim Tebow in the Heisman Trophy race.
Still, yesterday was joyous and momentous for the UH senior quarterback, as he was officially named one of four finalists for college football's most prestigious individual award.
Balloting ended yesterday, with Tebow expected to become the first sophomore to ever win the trophy given to the nation's most outstanding player, as voted by nearly 900 media members and former winners.
Arkansas junior running back Darren McFadden and Missouri junior quarterback Chase Daniel are the other finalists. The four congregate in New York for Saturday's ceremony at the Nokia Theatre in Times Square. ESPN televises it live at 3 p.m. Hawaii time.
Brennan is the one with the most recent outstanding effort, a so-called "Heisman Moment." His five touchdown passes, including the winning one to Ryan Grice-Mullins with 44 seconds left, against Washington allowed the Warriors to finish their regular season 12-0. They are the nation's only unbeaten team and gained entrance to Hawaii's first BCS bowl game, the Allstate Sugar Bowl against Georgia on Jan. 1.
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan addressed the media yesterday after the announcement that he is a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, given to college football's top player.
In the individual statistical sense, Brennan had a better season in 2006 when he threw an NCAA record 58 touchdown passes and UH went 11-3. But he meant more to his team this year, turning down millions of dollars to return for his senior season.
Safety Desmond Thomas said Brennan's intangibles as a leader are as important to the Warriors as his physical skills.
"Personally, he deserves (awards)," Thomas said, when asked about Brennan's penchant for deflecting praise. "For one, you play harder for that guy, unconsciously, and for each other, and it becomes a team kind of thing. Not 'Let's win for Colt,' but, 'Let's win for all of us, the school, the community, for God.' "
Brennan returned to UH because he knew the Warriors had a chance to make school history.
"I said I was going to be a winner this year," Brennan said. "When I looked at this year I understood what was in front of us really well. I understood I needed to play my best football at the end of the year. At the end of the year was when they were going to need me."
UH's schedule was loaded at the back end with the toughest competition: Fresno State, at Nevada, Boise State and Washington.
"I got injured, fought through injuries," Brennan said. "If you take a look at my ankle (sprained Sept. 14) it still looks like a tennis ball. It looks bad, I fought through that all year, continued to make victories, got hurt again (a concussion Nov. 10 against Fresno State). But I bounced back from that (after playing two snaps at Nevada) and the biggest two games of the year were my best games."
They were also the last two games. Brennan completed 82 of 103 passes for 937 yards and 10 touchdowns against the Broncos and Huskies.
"That's my biggest selling point as the Heisman," he said.
Meanwhile, Tebow and McFadden were idle last week, and Daniel went without a touchdown pass in Missouri's loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game.
Giving Graunke a break
Brennan decided to "take the fifth" when asked to name the best quarterback and best player in the country.
"I could stir it up, I could have fun with it. I don't have to say anything," Brennan said, in the wake of coach June Jones' calling Tebow a system quarterback.
"I could say stuff, but I think I'm gonna help (Tyler) Graunke out right now and keep my mouth shut and talk about that another time."
Graunke is the heir apparent to Brennan's starting spot, and UH opens at Florida and against Tebow next year.
"It's not like I'm going to The Swamp next year," Brennan said.
As for UH returning 4,000 of its allotted tickets for the Sugar Bowl and then having a demand for them?
"Why'd we do that? ... It's no surprise to me," Brennan said.
Jones in elite eight
Jones is among eight finalists for the 2007 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award to be voted upon by the entire membership of the Football Writers Association of America.
Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer, Air Force's Troy Calhoun, Arizona State's Dennis Erickson, Kansas' Mark Mangino, Missouri's Gary Pinkel, Ohio State's Jim Tressel and Illinois' Ron Zook join Jones as finalists.
The winner will be announced at the Fiesta Bowl.