Father knows best … Colt McCoy’s character shouldn’t be taking a hit
11:25 PM CST on Tuesday, January 26, 2010
When your son has to leave the biggest game of his life, as Brad McCoy’s son did, questions linger, not the least of which is this:
What do I do now?
Brad McCoy is a longtime high school football coach. He knows how hard the game is. He knows injuries are a part of it.
But when it’s your son – when you’ve raised him, nurtured him, coached him, loved him – you’re no longer a neutral observer.
“I stayed in the stands as long as a dad can,” he said. “I just wanted to be there with him.”
Once inside a Rose Bowl locker room, Brad quickly found that Colt had injured his right shoulder on a blindside hit by an Alabama player. His arm had gone numb. When Colt tried short passes in the locker room, it was as if he were throwing left-handed. Texas’ team doctors said he shouldn’t play, and everyone agreed but Colt.
Unfortunately, some need to be reminded of exactly who that is.
Until he played just five snaps in the Rose Bowl, Colt’s integrity as a football player was not a matter of debate. No one questioned his toughness. In four years, he never missed a start. No one questioned his leadership, either.
But ever since he and his dad walked out of the Rose Bowl locker room together, Colt’s character has been up for grabs.
He should have at least tried to play. The hit didn’t look that hard. He sure didn’t seem to have any trouble lifting his arm. Pinched nerves happen to linebackers all the time and they still play.
And what’s his father doing down there, anyway? Shouldn’t he stay out of the way? Was he more worried about Colt’s NFL prospects than Texas’ title hopes? Was Colt?
The comments flared on message boards, arrived by e-mail, were debated on talk shows and stuck like gum to the end of online stories.
Get this: Some even came up in Sunday school lessons.
Frankly, I found it all stunning. Did Texas take Colt’s NFL prospects into consideration? Probably, not that it shouldn’t. Athletes risk their bodies all the time, and college athletic programs are richer for it.
But was Colt’s future an overriding factor? Not if you believe, as I do, that Colt would have played if able.
For that matter, he needed to play, not only to give Texas its best odds, but to improve his draft status. ESPN’s Mel Kiper said Colt needed a good game against a great defense, especially after a poor performance against Nebraska. Because he couldn’t play, he probably slipped a round. Maybe two.
And before you make me out a Colt apologist, consider a couple of points: I wasn’t too complimentary of Colt and Mack Brown for their clock management in the Big 12 title game. Colt didn’t get my Heisman vote, either.
Whatever else you think of him, Colt’s no quitter. Brad saw it in his son’s eyes in the Rose Bowl locker room.
“Colt knew Alabama better than anybody,” he said. “He felt like he had ‘em.”
If it were your son agonizing in that locker room, chances are you would have wanted to be there, too.
A fine line exists between observing your child’s best interests and becoming a “helicopter parent.” That balance hasn’t always been negotiated well lately. Mike Leach’s supporters will tell you Craig James went way too far, which might have colored some of the reaction to Brad McCoy’s concern.
From personal experience, I can tell you it’s not easy. I have gone to a training room during a game, and I have walked out with my son and watched him lead his team to a playoff win.
Had he not come back out and played, I’d be no less proud. But I’m his dad. I lost my objectivity the day he was born.
As for Brad, he says if you question his oldest son’s toughness or desire, “you don’t know Colt.” You don’t have to be a father, either. But it certainly improves your perspective.