As Waylon Prather's punt tumbles inside the Hawaii three yard line, quarterback Colt Brennan glances up at the scoreboard to see his Warriors trailing San Jose State by 14 points with just under six minutes to play.
On a normal field, 14 points in six minutes is a manageable feat for the high-powered Hawaii offense—but the unforgiving rain continues to turn Spartan Stadium into a poor excuse for a cow pasture.
It's a rain that brings a smile to the face of every San Jose State fan; Mother Nature is on the Spartans' side today.
But obstacles are as big of a part of Brennan's life as are his successes.
Only a few years ago, Brennan was playing quarterback for Saddleback Community College, after being kicked off the University of Colorado football team. Even the Saddleback community rejected him, as the school paper questioned his character and the local media tried to get him booted from the program.
When everyone else thought his career was finished, though, Brennan refused to let perception spoil aspiration.
Now, Brennan hears the fans chanting "overrated" over and over again. But he's been here before.
No one on that soggy field knows better than Brennan that in order to truly succeed, you must first taste the bitterness of defeat.
There's another athlete of our time who faced similar adversity. In high school, Michael Jordan was told he was too short to play varsity basketball. While failure makes most of us cut our losses, there are some whom it inspires.
Jordan, for one, credits his accomplishments to the times he came up short.
“I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career,” he once said. “I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to make the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Like Jordan, Colt Brennan hates to lose. He hates it because he has failed enough times to be disgusted with it.
It's the fear of losing that drives talented athletes to greatness.
Brennan led that comeback against San Jose State, and defeated Mother Nature in the process. Against Washington, he rallied the troops when it mattered most. He got his teammates to the Sugar Bowl—where they deserve to be.
No team has beaten the Warriors this year. Soft schedule or not, that garners recognition.
So the next time you call Hawaii a joke, or dismiss the Warriors as overmatched, understand that you're sending a personal message to that kid Brennan.
And the next time you decide that the game is over because Hawaii is down by 21 points, consider the Joe Montana-like poise that Brennan has shown all year.
The Sugar Bowl is Brennan's last game as a part of the Hawaii community. Trust me—he'll be fired up.
The QB has taken a long and unconventional road to this point, and he'll do everything in his power to win against Georgia. If he does, a career that was once all but finished will be forever immortalized—and the program that has embraced troubled athletes will finally prove that forgiveness breeds a camaraderie that no physical skill can match.