With more than 100 times the population of his home town watching from the stands of the University of Phoenix Stadium, Texas quarterback Colt McCoy calmly engineered an 11-play, 78-yard Fiesta Bowl winning drive early this month. Then, he deflected glory to his maker: "I want to thank my Lord and savior Jesus Christ; without Him, none of this would be possible," he told the crowd during the postgame awards ceremony.
Such religious deference is nothing new for the Longhorns star, who grew up in the Christian faith in Tuscola, Texas (population 725), and remains grounded in simplicity despite his widespread acclaim. McCoy once told reporters asking if he drinks that yes he does, "but only milk and water."
That straight-edged approach to life has served the redshirt junior well. A similar attitude on the football field has proved equally beneficial. McCoy's surprising letdown a season ago, when he threw 18 interceptions and saw the Longhorns slip from BCS contention, stemmed largely from too much complexity in the Texas offense. A return to the modest playbook of his redshirt freshman season proved a ready salve.
McCoy threw for 3,859 yards this year, completing 76.5 percent of his passes and tossing 34 touchdowns compared to just eight interceptions. He also rushed for a team-leading 579 yards, including a 14-yard scoring scamper in the Fiesta Bowl to give Texas a third-quarter lead.
The numbers are among the best in college football history and bear striking resemblance to another evangelical straight shooter of the gridiron, Florida's Tim Tebow. The pair of college play callers posted near identical quarterback ratings for the season en route to BCS glory. They likewise mirror one another in using their respective public platforms for professions of Christian faith-and dealing with the attendant mockery such statements often bring.
For McCoy, the sports blogosphere greeted his post-Fiesta Bowl remarks with stiff admonitions that he keep his faith to himself. One commenter labeled him a "Bible-thumping weirdo." Such reaction was not unlike that which followed Tebow's Jesus-lauding acceptance speech of his Heisman Trophy a year ago. Neither man seems much concerned with the rancor-a trait as much worth cheering as double-threat quarterback skills.
The No. 1 spot in national polls is hardly foreign ground to the men's basketball program at the University of North Carolina. And this year, some analysts believed the Tar Heels might never yield their unanimous preseason top ranking en route to an undefeated season. Unranked Boston College frustrated that projection with an 85-78 upset of UNC Jan. 4 in Chapel Hill, a near unbelievable shock to the basketball world. But history indicates a propensity for such blunders among highly touted North Carolina teams. A top-ranked Tar Heels team lost to unranked Maryland a year ago. In 2007, No. 1 UNC fell to unranked Virginia Tech. And back in 1998 the Tar Heels lost two games to unranked opponents while sitting atop the rankings.
In the wake of a five-game flameout that left the Jets out of the NFL's postseason and coach Eric Mangini without a job, quarterback Brett Favre got the equivalent of a gang-pile sack-from his own team. Reports surfaced of teammates questioning the well-liked future Hall-of-Famer's commitment to the team. And one team consultant even dubbed Favre "selfish"-a warning perhaps for other players to resist the lure of un-retirement.