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McCoy’s Brilliant Career Ends on Sour Note

PASADENA, Calif. -- Maybe he could have saved the day for Texas, maybe not. Add that to the list of things we'll never know, just like the identity of Jack the Ripper.

An hour after the national championship game Thursday night, the rest of Colt McCoy's life had already begun. What to do - look at the future and hope, or look at the past and cry?

The Texas quarterback did a little of both.

"I pray to God that I'll be put on a stage like that again some day in my career, and be able to play," he said.

But also this:

"I can't put it into words. Nobody could. I could try to explain. I've given everything I had to Texas. I've given everything I had to college football. I've worked my whole career to be put on this stage, and given this opportunity. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought it'd be taken away like that."

You had to feel for him. Even the most ardent Alabama fan from the heart of Tuscaloosa had to feel for him. McCoy is a senior. This was it. Next stop, NFL draft.

So the Tide savors a championship today, and time moves on. The coaches are already out recruiting and the first preseason polls of 2010 are already in the books. Alabama, in case you missed it, is the team to beat.

McCoy? Done and done.

He stood at his locker late Thursday night and the right shoulder did not hurt. It never hurt. When the hit came in the first quarter, something went to sleep and never woke up.

"I'll play through pain. This isn't a pain issue," he said. "My shoulder's dead. My shoulder's . . . dead. If I was playing free safety, I'd go out there and make a tackle. I have no strength to throw a football. It's like the feeling when you fall asleep on your arm for an hour and a half, and you wake up and your arm's dead."

He tried. Oh, how he tried. While his teammates labored the first half and you watched from the recliner, he was in the locker room with medical personnel and his father. First, he went to the ice. Then, tossing footballs across the huge Rose Bowl locker room to his dad.

How many passes had Brad and Colt McCoy lobbed back and forth through the years?

"Millions," the son said.

But none like this. Outside, thousands roared. Inside, father and son agonized.

"Even he said, 'You don't know where you're throwing,' " Colt McCoy said, "I was trying to lie to the doctors, telling them I could go back in. But when they saw me throw . . ."

Afterward, as wave after wave of strangers arrived at his locker for explanations and anguish, McCoy went through his ordeal. Occasionally, his voice halted and his eyes glistened. Losing, he could have accepted. But not this.

"I'm handling my emotions now," he said. "I don't know how I am."

His final statistics for the championship game will always be two passes thrown, two passes completed. "The way I prepared was exactly what they were doing," he said of the Alabama defense. "We had them on their heels."

Then came the tackle by the Alabama defender -- "I really didn't hit him that hard. I wasn't trying to hurt him," Marcell Dareus would say later - and the night went dark.

Two senior Heisman candidate quarterbacks finished their college years this month, neither winning the championship they so badly wanted. But Florida's Tim Tebow had a grand finale in the Sugar Bowl. Besides, he will take two national title rings with him for the rest of his days.

McCoy's career came to a crash landing.

"I've worked my whole life for this game to turn out different," he said.

We'll never know. He'll never know.

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