Brennan a Rock Star on the Islands

NEW ORLEANS – In 24 hours, Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan will put another punctuation mark in his long and winding story.

Georgia is hoping it's not another exclamation point. There have been plenty for the senior who has thrown for more than 14,000 career yards and holds the NCAA record for touchdown passes with 131.

This year, Brennan has led the Warriors to a 12-0 record, which will be on the line Tuesday when they play the No. 4 Bulldogs (10-2) in the Allstate Sugar Bowl at 8:30 p.m. in the Louisiana Superdome.

"There is no question he's the key," Georgia head coach Mark Richt. "When you first hear about a guy having a lot of numbers, then you look at him and say, ‘Well gosh, he throws it 50 or 60 times a game, he ought to have a lot of numbers,' but after studying the film, he is really, really good. He's special."

This season, Brennan has thrown for more than 4,174 yards on 337-of-442 passing despite missing most of two games due to injury. He has thrown for 38 touchdowns after throwing for 56 the year before, and he holds or shares 29 NCAA records.

"It's crazy how much success I've had, and I realize that you're only as good as your last game, and my last game happens to be the Sugar Bowl against one of the best teams in the country," Brennan said. "This game has a huge impact on how I'll be remembered."

The question of Brennan's legacy is complicated. He knows he'll never completely be able to erase what stands as the beginning of his story – an incident with a woman that led to almost a year's worth of legal wrangling and seven days in jail for Brennan.

While a walk-on at the University of Colorado, he was charged with unwanted sexual content, indecent exposure, burglary and criminal trespass after an incident in a woman's dorm room.

"I was accused of serious things," he said. "I was devastated. When I got in trouble, I remember hitting my knees and saying God you know I didn't do this. You know I didn't do anything to deserve this."

The most serious of those charges were dismissed, and Brennan was found guilty of burglary and criminal trespass. He left the Buffaloes and went to Saddleback College near his home in Irvine, Calif. His career took off there, but the controversy followed. After helping Saddleback to a conference championship, he drew the attention of Hawaii, where his past came up again.

Warriors athletic director Herman Frazier refused to allow Brennan to be put on scholarship for his first semester but signed off after weekly meetings with Brennan.

"To this day, it still affects me," Brennan said of the incident. "It still humbles me and is with me and is a motivation and is something that I continue to think about."

As perfect a fit as the run-and-shoot offense has been for Brennan's talents, the state of Hawaii has been even better for his recuperation.

"I think it helped him being 2,500 miles away from what he was dealing with and in a non-judgmental, very laid-back culture," Hawaii quarterbacks coach Dan Morrison said. "It's helped him take a deep breath and grow as a young man. (I've enjoyed) just watching his confidence grow and seeing him be able to shed some of what he had from the past and truly let it go and just become Colt again."

When Brennan decided to return to the Warriors for his senior season he said it was because "I like the person I'm becoming," Morrison said.

"That will tell you a lot about him," Morrison said.

Brennan was named a Heisman Trophy finalist this season, but his invitation to New York for the presentation didn't validate his career in his mind. That will have to come at the next level. He has been invited to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., where he hopes to dispel the notion his numbers are a product of the Warriors' offense rather than his skill.

"I finally get to go down to the Senior Bowl and show everybody how much not a system quarterback I am," he said. "I can't wait for that."

Brennan has been a star in New Orleans. Georgia defensive tackle Geno Atkins even stopped the quarterback in the French Quarter this week to have his picture made.

He's "learning how to be the new Colt Brennan, which is the rock star," Morrison said. "He's probably signed 10,000 autographs. His hand is broke."

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, that last part is a bit of an exaggeration.

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