Bill Little commentary: Numbers
Sept. 30, 2009
Bill Little, Texas Media Relations
It was Friday afternoon, not too long before the Longhorns were to leave for their hotel in the final preparations for Saturday’s game with The University of Texas at El Paso.
And when he got there, his eyes brightened when his visit with the announcers turned to the subject of numbers.
Entering the game, he would be in position to become the 15th player in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision history to mass over 12,000 yards of total offense in a career. He would also have a chance to improve his record as a starting quarterback to 36-7, moving steadily toward the all-time national record for victories by a signal caller.
He could throw a touchdown pass in the 40th game out of 43 starts, and he could extend his record for TD passes in a game to 21 straight.
As it turns out, he did all of those things, but his smile, and the twinkle in his eye on this Friday afternoon had nothing to do with those numbers.
“How many kids did you get to talk to at the hospital?” had been the question.
“This was a great day,” said Colt. “Today I did room visits, so I got to meet one-on-one with a lot of kids.”
Each Friday before a home game, McCoy and his teammates visit youngsters at the Dell Children’s Medical Center. Many of them get to interact with the players in the common areas, but those in the rooms – those who are bedridden – get special treatment. And that had come from Colt McCoy.
For McCoy, those are the numbers that matter.
There is no way to imagine the pressures and the responsibility of being Colt McCoy. From the moment he stepped on the field as a starter as a redshirt freshman in 2006, his name alone conjured images of a great football player for The University of Texas. In a world where we are looking for heroes, in rode Colt McCoy.
In his time at Texas, he has survived injury, led the Longhorns to three straight bowl wins, earned honors as the Walter Camp National Player of the Year, and finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting. He has gone from the kid from a little town in the Big Country of West Texas to the unquestioned leader of a team competing for the second straight year for the right to play for a National Championship.
But Colt McCoy has been more than that to a huge cross section of people.
For the past two springs, he has taken his spring break and traveled to Peru, where he has worked with children, while a lot of college students are kicking back on a beach somewhere. He spent Memorial Day before his 2006 season by swimming across a lake near his home to help save the life of a neighbor who had suffered a seizure. He dedicated his last season to the memory of a cousin, a young Marine who died in a car accident after returning from serving in the Middle East.
He has spoken to youth groups from Connecticut to Dripping Springs about his values and his faith. He has done hundreds of interviews and media appearances, and spent eight hours in one sitting signing autographs at the Longhorns' Fan Appreciation Day. He has become the most recognized young face in college athletics in a state of 25 million people (and there are times it seems every one of the kids owns a No. 12 jersey).
At the same time, he has been an outstanding student who lacks only one course to graduate with a degree with honors this December. Professors marvel at his ability to blend notoriety and responsibility as one of the most in-demand athletes in the history of The University of Texas.
After battling a flu-like illness since the week before the Wyoming game, McCoy felt like he turned the corner early last week.
“I feel like I’ve got my body back,” he said Thursday as he looked forward to the game with the Miners.
Make no mistake – Saturday’s 64-7 victory over UTEP was not only about McCoy and the Texas offense who put 11 scores on the board. In fact, Colt left the game midway through the third quarter. With excellent play from the defense, offense and special teams, it was as complete a victory as the Longhorns have posted in the Mack Brown era.
The Longhorns’ staggering numbers were these: Texas had 639 yards of total offense to 53 for UTEP. McCoy completed 80 percent of his passes, hitting 28-of-35 for 286 yards and three touchdowns. The Longhorns also posted 171 yards in punt, kickoff and interception returns, netting a total of over 800 all-purpose yards.
All of that the kids, who watched on TV at the hospital, knew. Some of them had been lucky and had even been able to wear the now famous No. 12 jersey that Colt has made so popular.
After the game, Colt had hustled from his responsibilities with the media to get back to the locker room where he hoped to have his picture made with the Horns’ honorary captain, music legend George Strait. Strait had even waited for Colt to make sure that happened.
He has now met two Presidents, and countless other dignitaries, had his picture taken with a personal hero in Strait, and traveled from the hills of the Callahan Divide in West Texas to the skyscrapers of New York. Somehow, through all of it, he has remained a well-centered student-athlete who will graduate with honors in the same month he hopes to be able to be leading his football team to the pinnacle of college football.
As for the kids in the hospital, some will improve and head home, and those who remain will be counting the days until McCoy and his teammates return. The victories on the field and the accomplishments surrounding them will go down in history as part of a chronicle of one of the most visible Longhorns in college football history, given the exposure of his time.
But when it is all said and done, it will be the lives he has touched by the way he has lived that will be important to Colt McCoy. Because those, you see, are the only numbers that will really matter to him.