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Wednesday, October 14, 2009
The eyes of Texas are upon him

By Rick Reilly
ESPN The Magazine

Colt McCoy was basically one Michael Crabtree catch from last year's BCS title game. He'd like it back.

You can call quarterback Colt McCoy "Pistola," which is what his Latino fans call the University of Texas Heisman Trophy candidate.

He likes "Pistola," possibly because he owns a pistola -- a 9-millimeter handgun -- plus .270 and .223 Winchester rifles. Sometimes, he'll take one of them into a tree stand, where he'll also have his laptop, so he can watch DVDs of opponents. Misses a lot of deer that way.

But don't call him Daniel, which is his actual first name, which he hates, which is why his offensive linemen call him Daniel constantly. They also like to torture him by pretending to punch him in the man region before pulling up inches short. If McCoy flinches, they get to slug him hard twice in the shoulder, then "wipe" off these slugs, which means taking one of their meaty hands and wiping it down McCoy's face, in his eyes, up his nostrils and into his mouth.

"The game never ends," McCoy laments. "It goes on all the time. Even in the huddle. I'll be trying to call a play, and one of these guys is sticking their big ol' fingers up my nose. I get no respect."

That's a lie, of course. Nearly everybody in football respects the dead-eye arm and humble makeup of McCoy, who needs only six more wins to break the FBS wins record. It won't be easy, though, with Oklahoma coming up Saturday in Dallas, not to mention Texas A&M, Kansas and Oklahoma State lurking.

"Nothing about being the starting QB at Texas is easy," McCoy says. "It wasn't easy replacing what some people think is the greatest college QB ever [Vince Young]. I'd lay awake at night before I started, couldn't sleep. 'How am I gonna do this?'"

It's safe to say McCoy and Tebow did not hit it off at the '08 Heisman ceremony, which was won by Oklahoma's Sam Bradford. "Me and Sam are buddies," McCoy says. "We keep in touch all the time."

But Pistola has found a way. He's lost only seven games in four years and has led the '09 Longhorns to a 5-0 record and the No. 3 national ranking in this week's Associated Press poll. He's desperate to win the national title this time. He came within one Michael Crabtree catch of having a shot at it a year ago, a catch "I will see forever," he says.

Of course, even if he pulls it off, it won't be enough for some. Critics call him a Tim Tebow wannabe. Lord, that burns him up. "People say, 'Ah, McCoy went on a [Christian] mission just 'cause Tebow did.' Look, I'm my own man. My family has been going on these mission trips for years. I did my trip the same time he did. It's just -- I mean -- come on!"

It's safe to say McCoy and Tebow did not hit it off at the '08 Heisman ceremony, where Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford won the trophy. "Me and Sam are buddies," McCoy says. "We keep in touch all the time."

And you and Tebow?

"Uh, no."

Not that everybody's crazy about young Daniel, either.

"Daniel Colt McCoy!" a man screamed one 4 a.m. outside his rented house. "It's over! Get outside, Daniel Colt McCoy! It's over!"

It was over -- the police came and got him within five minutes -- but it spooked McCoy enough to move into the back house of a friend of the family with wide receiver Jordan Shipley. It's so tiny, they share one bedroom. It's not the perfect crib for a guy who has a girlfriend hotter than shrimp vindaloo, Rachel Glandorf.

"But we [Shipley and I] only have, like, four more months to go," he says.

And said girlfriend is not all that tickled, either, when she returns from a restaurant bathroom to find five or six girls sitting with her boyfriend, getting their pictures taken.

"And then they ask her to take the picture!" McCoy says, sighing.

Works both ways, though. "The cops pulled him over three times last month alone, and he never once had to show ID," Shipley says. He also got only warnings, according to the wide receiver. Must be nice.

Still, Pistola likes friends and family to call him "Johnny" in public instead of the C-word, which alerts burnt-orange-blooded locals that the guy in the pulled-low baseball cap and the huge sunglasses is their football god.

Actually works, too. On a commercial flight to Phoenix one year, a couple sitting near him was agog at the size of some of his linemen, who were referring to McCoy as "Johnny."

"Are y'all football players?" the wife said.

Yes, they were. So they signed some things.

Then they turned to Shipley. "Are you, too?"

Yes. Signed.

Then to McCoy: "And what do you do, Johnny?" they asked. "Are you in the band?"

His teammates nearly suffocated trying to keep from laughing. Even worse when the couple got out of the Jetway to find 100 people waiting for the band guy's autograph.

Kid plays a hellacious tuba.


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