When the Washington Redskins cut Colt Brennan yesterday, it was a deeper, more painful wound for the University of Hawaii than any other inflicted by the NFL.
On one hand there is heartfelt empathy for Brennan, that most popular of Warriors, who returned to Manoa in 2007 as a senior to lead UH for one more season when he could have declared for the draft as a junior.
And, on the other, there is also disappointment for UH for whom Brennan was to have been that prized symbol the pass-happy Warriors have longed for, a visible quarterback presence in the NFL.
Both were dashed, at least for this season and probably much longer, yesterday when the Redskins traded for—and how is this for rubbing it in—former Brigham Young quarterback John Beck, to seal Brennan’s departure.
Too bad because, in a hail of touchdown passing records, Brennan gave the Warriors his all for three beyond-memorable seasons, including the pinch-me march to the Sugar Bowl.
He did it boldly—and to some minds astonishingly—by walking away from prospects of a bigger pile of moolah after the 2006 season to give it one last try in green and black.
If his aloha performance for the Warriors had been that gunslinger second half in the 41-34 shootout over Arizona State in the 2006 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl instead of the 41-10 nightmare of a demolition by Georgia in the Superdome, you have to believe Brennan would have been more than the sixth-round draft pick the Redskins made him in 2008.
Just how much higher—and how much richer—we’ll always wonder.
For that alone you hoped what they have come to call "the cult of Colt" would find its calling in the NFL.
Then there is what UH saw him as: the answer to a 40-year prayer. A living, breathing, touchdown-passing salesman for a program desperate for one.
Selling a passing offense to quality recruits is a whole lot easier if you can point to a visible NFL quarterback on Sundays. Or, a Heisman Trophy winner. Brennan was UH’s best chance at the whole jackpot.
Until Brennan came along, the last time UH even had a quarterback drafted to the position in the NFL was Larry Arnold, a 12th-round selection of the then-Los Angeles Rams in 1970. Raphel Cherry was taken by the Redskins in 1985, but never played a snap at quarterback and he was, as general manager Bobby Beathard said on draft day, selected to play defensive back.
Dan Robinson and Nick Rolovich might have given UH an NFL presence had they had more time in head coach June Jones’ system. But Robinson had just one year and Rolovich, a junior college transfer without benefit of a redshirt season, had little more than that.
Tim Chang then became the hope, but wasn’t drafted and never caught on despite several free-agent trials.
With nearly 70 players drafted—and more than 20 since the coming of the run-and-shoot era to Manoa—the Warriors have established themselves as a producer of quality linemen, linebackers, defensive backs, receivers and even an occasional Pro Bowl place-kicker and punter.
But for all their passing records—and UH’s honor roll has included NCAA marks for career yardage and touchdown passes—they have yet to have a quarterback play in a modern regular-season game.
One of these years the Warriors will get their NFL quarterback. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like this year and, sadly, it might not be Brennan at all.