The news of former Hawaii standout Colt Brennan’s passing at 37 years old caught the college football world by surprise. Well, at least the world remembers him. Brennan was the reason why so many fans including myself stayed up late on Saturdays to watch his games. I remember downing almost a whole two litter of Mountain Dew to stay awake for the Hawaii-Washington game. A game that sent Hawaii to the Sugar Bowl. For those too young to remember Brennan I recommend not only looking up his numbers but YouTube some of his games.
If you thought PJ Walker lit up the XFL running June Jones Run ‘N Shoot Brennan made it look like an art. Behind a trio of receivers he singlehandedly turned me from a defensive guy to a pass-happy, high-scoring fanatic. While his limitations made him a sixth-round draft pick of the Washington Football Team, his impact on the college game especially in the state of Hawaii is immeasurable. Not to mention he had one of the best sidearm throws of the day.
Despite a solid preseason showing Brennan never appeared in an NFL game and bounced around several leagues before being out of football. He had his off-field demons and was actually in a rehab facility when he passed. An unfortunate end to somebody who deserved better. I often think if he came into the league now what would happen? I’d like to think he’d get a legitimate shot with the NFL sans Tennesse being a pass-first shotgun happy league. Plus you have guys like Patrick Mahomes and others making plays on the run similar to Brennan. If you don’t believe me again watch the games (particularly against San Jose State in which he carried Hawaii to a win).
On a personal note, Brennan changed the way I saw football. Being a diehard OU fan I was used to handoffs to Adrian Peterson and play-action, under-center passes from Jason White. In Brennan, I saw a lanky blonde-haired guy with the state of Hawaii dyed green in his hair slinging the ball all around the field in lightning speed. It made me appreciate the offense and not think of it gimmicky as I did with the boys in Lubbock or anybody that ran anything similarly. You didn’t have to run a “pro-style” offense or have a big pocket passer to get the job done.
A couple of years ago Hawaii after their failed Norm Chow experience the hired Nick Rolovich who brought the Run ‘N Shoot back to the island led by quarterback Cole McDonald. Similar to Brennan McDonald was a lanky unheralded prospect, a two-star whose only other offer was HBCU Alabama A&M. When I saw him play the first couple of times I couldn’t help but think of Brennan. The blonde dreadlocks he sported, the shooter sleeve on the throwing arm, the gunslinger mentality, the playmaking ability. As fate would have it McDonald ended up being a sixth-round pick as well (Tennesse) and was out of the league after a year. You can’t make this up.
You can’t make up Brennan’s impact on a generation of college football fans and a state as a whole. From a former walk-on at Colorado to junior college to a walk-on at Hawaii to record-setter. Before Baker Mayfield (in regards to walk-on’s) there was Brennan. Before Mahomes was lighting up scoreboards dazzling fans along the way there was Brennan. Before McDonald revitalized Hawaii football there was Brennan.
Gone too soon, but not before leaving a lasting impact. Thank you, Colt. Rest in peace.