Brennan, Jones have Sugar Bowl media circus all shook up
NEW ORLEANS » When Colt Brennan stepped off the bus before Hawaii's first practice yesterday you'd have thought Elvis Presley had just entered the building.
A media swarm descended on the University of Hawaii quarterback, who acted as if this was just a part of his life now; no big deal as newspaper and television reporters from across the South clamored for a quote from the star of the show.
From the opening question you could tell Brennan was on his mark. Unlike Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford, who didn't garner nearly as much attention, Brennan was animated, talkative, approachable. Had he been allowed, Brennan would have skipped practice and spent the two hours at the New Orleans Saints training facility fielding questions like Brooks Robinson once snagged grounders at the hot corner.
Coach June Jones strolled by with a hint of a smile on his face, knowing his time with Brennan was growing short. In six days, the Warriors senior will finish his final season, leaving Jones to tutor another signal caller in the coming campaign.
Will it ever be like this again? Even Jones conceded during his first press conference yesterday that this is a once-in-a-lifetime event for the Hawaii athletic program. As hard as it was to get to the Sugar Bowl, beating Georgia would put the finishing touches on an already magical carpet ride.
At the far end of the practice facility, nearly half of the Hawaii football team gathered in a long line at the 50 to watch New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and his receivers put on a display that would have made Brennan proud.
But Brees would have been hard-pressed to match the interest Brennan was managing at the other end of the football field. When asked, Brennan said he would love to meet Brees, not knowing the former Purdue quarterback, who ended his collegiate career at the Hula Bowl, was less than 100 yards away.
By the time Brennan was done with his interviews, Brees was inside the locker room, unaware of Brennan's interest in meeting him. As much fun as Brennan appeared to be having, Jones also had a nice treat talking with New Orleans head coach Sean Payton and Saints general manager Mickey Loomis, who like Jones, hails from Oregon.
YOU COULD TELL by watching that Jones was back in his NFL element as he and Payton shared a lively discussion on a variety of topics. As much fun as Jones is having this week, you can't help but wonder if the Hawaii head coach would ever return to professional football if given the proper opportunity.
Jones addressed that issue several times yesterday, always careful not to say he was looking, but never closing the door on that part of his life that began 20 years ago as quarterbacks coach for the Houston Oilers. He has some shared moments with many quality QBs, but none quite like Brennan.
As it stands now, that special relationship is drawing to a close as both men try to put the finishing touches on a stellar three-year career that began with USC in 2005 and ends with Georgia on New Year's Day. Jones mentioned Brennan's feelings about his final practice at UH last weekend.
He failed to say how he felt about that poignant moment, but you get the idea that when Elvis leaves the building for the NFL, Jones wouldn't mind if someone asked him to go along for the ride.
Sports Editor Paul Arnett
has been covering sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1990. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org