Colt McCoy is the epitome of class

The college football gods owe Colt McCoy a massive apology, because what they did to him on Thursday night was extremely cruel.

On the fifth play of the 2010 BCS National Championship Game, an Alabama defender hit McCoy on his right side and the quarterback’s arm immediately went dead. He motioned to come out of the game and was replaced by freshman Garrett Gilbert for the remainder of the series.

That was the last time McCoy took a snap for the Texas Longhorns, who eventually fell to Alabama, 37-21.

It’s not fair what happened to McCoy. You could see how distraught he was while having to watch from the sidelines as his team fought an uphill battle. He came back for his senior year for the opportunity to win a national championship and instead he was forced to be a spectator for his team’s biggest moment. For what he did at Texas and for college football, he deserved more than this ending.

But even though he was handed the most unfortunate of breaks, McCoy proved to everyone how much character he has. Following the game, he held back tears while talking to ESPN reporter Lisa Salters about having to watch the game from the sidelines. Nobody would have blamed him if he vented his frustrations or talked about how the outcome of the game would have been different had he played.

But instead, he made it a point of emphasis to congratulate Alabama not once, but twice while wrapping up the interview. And it wasn’t a clichéd, tongue-in-check type of congratulations: It was as sincere as they come.

McCoy managed to muster the strength to congratulate an opponent that had just benefited from one of his darkest moments. Now that’s class.

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Alabama overcomes Saban’s first quarter mistakes to win national title

Those that tuned into the 2010 BCS National Championship Game don’t need a breakdown of what transpired on Thursday night: Alabama took advantage of a Colt McCoy shoulder injury and managed to survive a late rally by Texas to cash in a 37-21 victory.

Had McCoy played the entire game, would Texas have won? We’ll never know, although the Longhorns certainly had everything working in their favor early on, taking advantage of one Nick Saban mistake after another.

Saban’s decision to receive instead of putting his defense on the field first was unwise. His decision to fake a punt after the Tide went three and out on their first possession was unnecessary. And his decision not to instruct his return team to call for a fair catch or re-position themselves after Texas had already kicked the ball short at the start of the game was neglectful.

Due to those three decisions, Saban essentially spotted the Longhorns a 6-0 lead. Had McCoy not been hurt, who knows whether or not that 6-0 lead could have been 14-0 to start the game.

Saban obviously deserves enormous credit for turning Alabama’s program around and building a national championship team. What he’s been able to do in such a short period of time has been remarkable and speaks to how good he is at what he does. He’s a motivator, a master game planner and manages to keep young men focused, which cannot be easy to do.

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Can Colt McCoy be Texas’ X-factor?

This much we know when it comes to the BCS title matchup between Texas and Alabama:

– Both defenses are outstanding, with Alabama’s being damn near impenetrable.
– Mark Ingram will be the centerpiece for the Crimson Tide offense.
– Mack Brown and Nick Saban will have their teams prepared.

Outside of those three things, everything else could be considered a crapshoot.

The wildcard in tonight’s game might very well be Longhorns’ senior quarterback Colt McCoy, who will try to put a bow on top of an outstanding collegiate career. He’s thrown for 3,512 yards this season, with 27 touchdowns and also chipped in 348 rushing yards and three scores on the ground.

But tonight marks McCoy’s biggest game as a Longhorn, and certainly his most challenging. Saban has had over a month to dissect what McCoy and the Texas offense do best and there’s no doubt that Tide’s defense will challenge the Longhorns to throw vertically.

Texas struggled against Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship because it matched up well against the Horns in zone coverage. The Huskers limited the effectiveness of UT’s dink-and-dunk approach and the results were outstanding. McCoy thrives off the short to intermediate completion and Nebraska essentially took those plays out of Texas’ playbook.

If the Longhorns are going to win tonight, McCoy will have to beat Alabama by throwing vertically. The problem is that his offensive line will be overmatched by the Tide’s excellent front four and he might not have time to survey open receivers and stretch the field. It’s up to McCoy to make quick reads and get the ball out of his hands quickly before succumbing to the pressure that he will undoubtedly face tonight.

McCoy has been a playmaker throughout his collegiate career. He’s a gamer and will no doubt be focused and prepared for what he’ll face tonight. But if Texas’ defense does its job and shuts down Ingram and the Tide’s offense, then the senior QB will have to make plays down the stretch or else he’ll miss the opportunity to go out on top.

Mandel: Ranking the Bowls 1-34’s Stewart Mandel recently ranked all 34 bowl games.

Here are his top 5:

1) BCS National Championship Game (Jan. 7): Alabama (13-0) vs. Texas (13-0). It’s the first-ever matchup of two 13-0 teams. Colt McCoy. Mark Ingram. Rolando McClain. Sergio Kindle. Yeah, I’m thinking you might want to tune in.

2) Sugar (Jan. 1): Cincinnati (12-0) vs. Florida (12-1). It’s spread vs. spread, Tim Tebow vs. Tony Pike, Mardy Gilyard vs. Joe Haden. It may be a letdown game for the Gators, but it should still be entertaining.

3) Fiesta (Jan. 4): TCU (12-0) vs. Boise State (13-0). Enough with the outrage, people: You know you’re going to watch. The nation’s No. 1 passer, Broncos quarterback Kellen Moore, goes up against the nation’s top-ranked defense.

4) Rose (Jan. 1): Ohio State (10-2) vs. Oregon (10-2). Dangerous dual-threat star Jeremiah Masoli is what Terrelle Pryor was supposed to be. But the Buckeyes present the toughest defense the Ducks have faced since Boise.

5) Orange (Jan. 5): Georgia Tech (11-2) vs. Iowa (10-2). You remember the Hawkeyes. They love low scores and dramatic finishes. With a month to prepare, can Pat Angerer, Tyler Sash and Co. stifle Josh Nesbitt and the triple-option?

That’s how I would have my top 5, although the Fiesta and Sugar bowls might be interchangeable. I love watching TCU’s defense play and I’m intrigued about how Gary Patterson will game plan to stop Boise’s offense. That said, I’m interested to see how Cincinnati responds after Brian Kelly ditched them for Notre Dame.

I know Georgia Tech’s triple-option is exciting to watch and Iowa does have a solid front seven, but that matchup just doesn’t have the same appeal as the other four. Maybe it’ll wind up being the best BCS game of the season, but the matchup offers little sizzle compared to the other top bowls.

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