McCoy, Tebow enjoying a break

Published 6:00 pm Thursday, December 10, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) — Colt McCoy never thought for a second he had thrown away Texas’ chance to play for a national championship. Though he admits if he had known the rules better, he might have avoided cutting it so close at the end of the Big 12 title game.

Tim Tebow, meanwhile, is still smarting from having Florida’s national championship hopes dashed by Alabama. No, he hasn’t gone back to watch the Crimson Tide’s 32-13 victory against the Gators yet.

The two star quarterbacks were in Manhattan on Tuesday, starting a busy week on the awards circuit as finalists for the Campbell Trophy, which goes to college football’s top scholar-athlete.

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Both will head to Orlando, Fla., for Thursday’s college football awards show and be back in New York on Saturday night for the Heisman Trophy presentation.

After that, McCoy and the second-ranked Longhorns have a national championship game to prepare for against No. 1 Alabama on Jan. 7 in Pasadena, Calif. Tebow and the Gators have to settle for the Sugar Bowl against No. 4 Cincinnati.

Texas almost ended up watching the BCS title game, too.

The Longhorns (13-0) needed a field goal on the last play of the game to beat Nebraska 13-12. But on the second-to-last play, McCoy nearly let the clock strike zero on a rollout that had college football fans gasping late Saturday night.

He said when he checked the clock, there were 11 seconds left, so he knew he had enough time to run a play. The rollout was designed to pick up another 5 yards or so with either a run or pass. But when Nebraska got pressure, he quickly decided to throw the ball away.

And that’s when his knowledge of the rule book — or lack of knowledge — cost him.

McCoy said he thought the clock would stop on a ball thrown out of bounds as soon as it passed the first-down marker. Not the case. The clock runs until the ball hits something.

McCoy lobbed a long pass over the bench area and it hit a rail near the stands. The clock struck :00. Nebraska began to celebrate.

“When I saw them rush the field, the first thought was find the (official in the) white hat because I know there’s time left,” he said. “I thought 2 seconds.”

It turned out to be 1. Still enough for Hunter Lawrence to make a 46-yard field goal that sent Texas to the Rose Bowl to try to win its first national championship since 2005.

“It was close, you’ve got to admit that,” McCoy said. “It was probably closer than you wanted it to be, but understanding everything that goes on I was not worried about it.

“I walked off to the side and told Coach (Mack) Brown, I said, ‘I bet we have 2 seconds left.’ He said, ‘Yeah, you’re probably right.’ But he was real nervous at the time.”

As harrowing as the narrow escape was for the Longhorns, their Saturday went far better than Florida’s did.

Tebow and the Gators were dominated by Alabama and had their 22-game winning streak stopped.

“Does it still hurt and is it frustrating? Yeah, absolutely, because we put a lot of work into it,” Tebow said. “You know our goal was to win the SEC championship and have an opportunity to go to Pasadena and play for it all and hoist up that crystal ball. That was our dream. We wanted to do it and we fell a little short. And that hurts.”

McCoy and Tebow came into this season as big favorites in the Heisman Trophy race. Along with last year’s winner, Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, it seemed practically inevitable they would return to New York for this year’s Heisman handout.

But going into Saturday’s festivities, neither Tebow nor McCoy is considered the favorite among five finalists. The others are Alabama’s Mark Ingram, Stanford’s Toby Gerhart and Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh.

Tebow seemed resigned to the fact that he will probably not become the second two-time Heisman winner.

“I think it would be tough based on that last game and that last loss. It would be probably tough, probably a long shot,” he said. “But it’s just an honor that I’m a finalist and have an opportunity.”