December 11, 2008

Exclusive: Colt McCoy in Orlando for Home Depot Awards

Tim Tebow walked into the conference room at the Disney World resort Wednesday night with Colt McCoy, telling McCoy how much he respected McCoy for talking openly about his Christian faith.

"I really respect him for that," Tebow said.

Thirty minutes later, McCoy wrapped up his interviews with the media by taking photos with Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, who was sporting a giant, crimson cast on his left hand, extending up his forearm, after having surgery to repair torn ligaments in his non-throwing hand.

"It looks worse than it is," Bradford said.

In that short period of time all three found out they were Heisman Trophy finalists. The only three. Graham Harrell, who was also present for the media interviews on the eve of the Home Depot College Football Awards on the Disney Boardwalk to be aired Thursday night on ESPN, was not invited.

Harrell was clearly surprised and disappointed. It was an awkward moment. But performances by Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow in the two weeks after Tech's blowout loss to OU spoke volumes. Meanwhile, Michael Crabtree was across the room all but saying he was gone to the NFL.

Question: Michael, what do you have left to prove in college?

Crabtree: Nothing.

Question: What do you tell students at Tech who ask you're coming back?

Crabtree: They don't even ask me how I'm doing or about the team or the bowl game. They just ask me, 'Are you staying?

Question: What do you tell them?

Crabtree: I forgot what I told them.

Question: So you don't know what you're going to do about the NFL? Or you've made up your mind and you just don't want to say?

Crabtree: Yeah, I know, but I'm just not ready to say.

At that point I said, "That's bye-bye Tech fans," and Crabtree laughed.

(Funniest moment of the night was Crabtree recounting how he made up his mind not to play basketball at Tech after Bobby Knight hurled expletives at then-Tech assistant football coach Sonny Dykes on Crabtree's recruiting visit because Dykes' cell phone kept ringing while the three were in a meeting together. "I didn't really get to talk to him (Coach Knight). He was too busy cussing out my football coach because his phone was ringing," Crabtree said.)

Missouri's Jeremy Maclin was a little more forthcoming. The redshirt sophomore said he was weighing what to do about the NFL in the face of Chase Daniel graduating.

"I'm 50-50 on that decision right now," Maclin said.

(My opinion: Bye-bye.)

OK, OK, you want Colt McCoy unplugged on the night of his being named a Heisman Trophy finalist. You got it.

Q: The Big 12 defenses have taken a beating this season. Are they better than people think?

When the bowl season comes around I think the Big 12 will do really well.

Q: How good is Oklahoma defensively?

Oklahoma defensively is really good. They're deep, they're talented, they're fast. It's going to be a great game with Florida. I have no idea who will win.

Q: Is it unfair to compare the defenses in the SEC to those in the Big 12?

In the Big 12, we have teams like Tech and Missouri, who spread it out and run up the score and have a lot of passing yards offensively. In the SEC, they'll line up in the I formation and just go at you. Big 12 defenses have to adjust every week. They don't see the same looks every week. In the SEC they don't have anyone like Texas Tech or Missouri.

Q: So if you give up 24 points in the Big 12, that's a good night defensively?

Yeah. It was our goal every week to score a lot of points, especially this year. It was challenging because you knew every team was going to score a lot of points. The key for us this year was hanging onto the ball and keeping our defense off the field.

Q: The Heisman finalists this year are Big 12 quarterbacks and Tim Tebow. What do you think of Tebow?

I think he's a great leader. I like how his teammates respond to him. He gets the job done. Unfortunately, I don't get to watch a lot of their games, but he's the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, so he's got to be pretty stinking good.

Q: Pretty stinking good?

Pretty stinking good. That's what we say back in Texas. But I'm honored I get to go up to New York with him.

Q: What about your running this season? Is that something you worked on in the off-season?

It was something I learned the importance of in the off-season. Coach (Mack) Brown and Coach (Greg) Davis kept pounding on me that my ability to make a play with my feet helps the offense, helps keep the chains moving. So I think early on in the season I understood the importance of it, and then I learned to like it. If a play broke down, I realized I could make 5 or 6 yards. As I got further along in the season, my coaches felt more comfortable calling the quarterback draw or the quarterback counter or zone read more and more, so I ended up leading the team in rushing. That was something I would have never thought in the beginning of the year, but it's all about what the defense tells you to do. I just tried to take care of the football. That's one thing I learned from last year, and it's paid off.

Q: Have you let yourself think about the Heisman Trophy and what it might mean to you?

I don't think about it much, especially during the season. I just wanted to win. That's the ultimate goal for a quarterback. That was my goal. It's harder on my teammates. They want it so bad. They tell me we're going to put it on our rings if we win our bowl game. It's one of those things that when you're around your teammates in the locker room, they talk about it more, so you end up thinking about it. But I told them when I left to come here, 'This trip is a reflection of you guys, and it's an honor for me to be representing you all up here. That's how I feel and they know that.

Q: Are you surprised Graham Harrell didn't get invited to the Heisman ceremony?

Graham's a great quarterback. They won 11 games. He made a great drive against us to win. I don't know how it all works. This is my first go-around. So I'm excited to be invited.

Q: Last week, Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford were still playing. Do you feel like you got dealt a bad hand in this thing?

I left it all out on the field. I did what I could all year, and it's out of my hands now. It was unfortunate I didn't get to play in that last game. I would have loved to take my team to the Big 12 championship. That was a goal. But in the end, the system didn't allow it. I felt like all system long we did what we could do. I'm excited to be in the position we are, and who knows what the future holds.

Q: If you're successful against Ohio State is it inevitable there will always be a feeling of, 'What might have happened?' following the season - an answer we'll never get?

Coach Brown has been great saying to us, 'You can't control it so put it behind you. You can't change it, so let's go out and play the best game we can against Ohio State. That's our job as a team. That's our focus - to put it behind us and go out and play great. We want to win 12 games. We haven't done that in a few years. We want to end on a solid note heading into next year, because I feel like we'll have a solid team next year.

Q: Will the Longhorns be enthusiastic about playing in the Fiesta Bowl? Or will guys see it as a consolation prize?

We'll be fine. There will be no letdown at all. We're excited about it. We're excited about getting back into the BCS. You never know what's going to happen. There's a lot to play for out there. Twelve wins for us would be big. We're excited about that, and we're excited about playing Ohio State. Watching film of them, they are solid on defense. They've only given up 13 points per game, so that's a challenge and opportunity for us to go out and play well.

Q: For a kid from tiny Tuscola, Texas, what would it mean to walk away with the Heisman Trophy?

Any time you have a chance to win the Heisman that's pretty awesome. It's the goal of pretty much every college football player there is. But only a few get to go to New York, and only a few get to obtain that. So being in consideration for that with all the great college athletes out there is an honor.

Q: But you saw this. Your dad said you envisioned this happening from the time you were in high school.

I've set goals extremely high for myself. Being a coach's kid and getting grow up around the game, Coach Brown bringing me to Texas, things just kind of worked out the way they should. God's given me the ability. God's given me the opportunity, and I thank Him because without Him I wouldn't be here. It's awesome. I'm just living the dream. I'm enjoying college. I'm enjoying my teammates. We've had a great year so far. We get to go to the BCS and be in the Fiesta Bowl and getting to go to the Heisman Trophy presentation is pretty special.

Q: Is this the first time you've met Tim Tebow? What did you think?

Yes. You can tell by the way he carries himself he's a great leader for his team and a solid guy.

Q: Would you vote for him for the Heisman Trophy?

He's already won it, so why not? He's been there, done that. But I like Tim because of the way he leads his team. You could see after his team lost to Ole Miss how his teammates responded to him. That's important in the position we both play. It's pretty cool to watch. If I had a vote, I'd probably vote for him.

Q: A lot was made of Mack Brown voting Florida No. 1 and Texas No. 2. What do you make of that?

Coach Brown loves us and knows the work and effort we put in, and he's going to fight for us. You can't read into that. If that's what Coach Brown thinks, that's what we think.

Q: Do you have any idea what Blake Gideon's state of mind is after dropping that interception against Texas Tech?

Blake is fine. You can't put anything on him. There's so many things that could have and should have happened in that game. It's unfortunate that play is what people are going to remember. At the same time, you've just got to be a support and a help for him. It's tough. Especially for a freshman. He came in as a true freshman and did so much for this football team. So there's nothing on him.

Q: Why did you feel compelled to say you were going to stay at Texas and not go to the NFL? Was it just getting bothersome?

I've been saying all year long that I'm staying. Not many people have the opportunity to start at a place like Texas for four years. I love my coaches. I have a real close relationship with my linemen. They're all coming back. God's given me the ability to play. I'm having a lot of fun, and I just can't see myself leaving right now. I'm super excited about next year. We've got a ton of guys back and the future is bright for us.

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