'Why'd this have to happen?'

Updated: January 8, 2010, 1:14 PM ET
By Bruce Feldman

Great game last night. Congrats to the Crimson Tide on another national title. That win only further validates how great a hire Nick Saban was, and underscores that if you get a really great coach, he can overcome whatever turmoil a program has had under past coaches and restore what had been a great program. I am sorry for Colt McCoy. That's where I'm going to start answering reader mail on the day after:

From Denny in Fort Worth: Colt McCoy is the winningest QB in college football history but what really is his legacy after last night?

I think McCoy still goes down as one of the greatest players in Texas' illustrious history, and also one of the best QBs in the college game. He was superb for four years and he put up staggering numbers the past two seasons despite not playing on an offense with a true feature back, and it's not like he threw to a bona fide first-round-type talent (although Jordan Shipley was really, really good).

After the game, I listened to McCoy speak with other reporters in front of his locker for some 20 minutes. Your heart really has to go out to him, for him to finally get his moment to play for the BCS title, to get off to a great start and then go down to a "freak" injury, as he put it. "I've taken hits my whole career," McCoy said. "I've taken tons of hits like that. It just caught me the right way. I really don't have any pain. I never had much pain."

He had tried to throw but said his arm felt like "a noodle," and time after time he spoke about how bewildered he was that something like this could have happened. "I've given college football the best I've had for the last four years," McCoy said. "Every player's dream is to play on a stage like that and have an opportunity like that. I could have never imagined this would happen. I'll never question God. I'm a man of faith. I've never questioned why. But yes, I'm truly disappointed, because I would have made a huge difference."

I had a chance to speak with his father, Brad, who detailed just how frustrating this was for his son. The elder McCoy was with Colt in the first half and played receiver as the senior QB attempted a few 10-foot passes before realizing it was futile. "He looked up at me and said, 'Dad, I had 'em. I had 'em. I knew everything they were doing before they did it. I was fixin' to complete every pass I was going to throw tonight,'" Brad McCoy recalled, before his son asked, "Why'd this have to happen?"

No one knows for sure what would have happened had McCoy not been injured last night. But the way this played out is part of McCoy's legacy now. It really puts a very bittersweet spin on what was a great career. He got his team to the national championship, but never got a chance to win it for them. That kind of star-crossed fate will be forever linked to his career. In a way, I think in many people's eyes that will add something to his legacy, although clearly not in the way a big performance to knock off No. 1 Bama would have. Off the field, the guy did everything right and deserves to be remembered as a great player and a class act. I suspect McCoy, who is very athletic and has a quick release and extremely accurate arm, will go on to have a good NFL career. He is someone I'll root for at the next level. "It's gonna be a huge character test for him," Brad McCoy said. "This is so tough. He did everything right. He didn't come back for the awards or the Heisman. He came back for this moment. He came back for this game."