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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, January 18, 2007

UH QB Brennan's sacrifice: '$25 million'

Colt doesn't bolt: Brennan decides to return for senior year at UH
Video: UH quarterback Colt Brennan decides to stay
 •  Colt passes up millions for priceless experience
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By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Teammates, from left, Michael Washington, Rocky Savaiigaea and Timo Paepule cheer as Brennan says he’ll return for his senior season.

Photos by REBECCA BREYER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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A tearful UH quarterback Colt Brennan said yesterday, "I've been a part of something special these last two years."

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For quarterback Colt Brennan, the price of paradise is millions of dollars.

In deciding to return to the University of Hawai'i for his senior season, Brennan turned down an opportunity to earn a lucrative paycheck from the National Football League.

"You have to do what you have to do," said Brennan, a fourth-year junior from Irvine, Calif. "This is what I want to do."

Several NFL scouts told Brennan he would have been one of the top three quarterbacks in the 2007 draft, behind Louisiana State's JaMarcus Russell and Notre Dame's Brady Quinn.

UH head coach June Jones said Brennan would have been selected between the 10th and 20th pick in the first round. Matt Leinart, Brennan's high-school teammate, was the 10th pick in last year's draft. He signed a six-year contract worth up to $51 million.

"Colt probably turned down about $25 million," Jones said. "It's a lot of money. It's a huge sacrifice."

Shakti Stream, Brennan's girlfriend, said the money "could buy you your own island. But it can't buy you the experience of Hawai'i."

"Hawai'i's really changed him," she added. "He's really adapted to the culture and the people. He honestly fell in love with everything about Hawai'i. That has a lot to do with why he's coming back."


Brennan set six NCAA records this season, including most touchdown passes and highest efficiency rating. He became the first UH quarterback named to one of The Associated Press' All-America teams. He placed sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting as the nation's best college football player.

Brennan had debated his football future since Christmas Eve, when the Warriors defeated Arizona State in the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl.

For the past three weeks, he said he was "50-50" on whether to apply for the NFL draft or remain at UH.

Brennan applied for the NFL draft on Monday, the declaration deadline, as a way to keep open his options while he pondered his future. The NFL offers a 72-hour grace period for applicants to rescind.

Brennan said he sent the notarized withdrawal forms to the NFL yesterday.

He also plans to take out a seven-figure insurance policy. He would have to pay a premium of 10 percent, but only after the 2008 draft.

Meanwhile, his father, Terry Brennan, said: "I guess I have to pay his overhead for another year."


Brennan admittedly struggled with his decision, twice postponing news conferences.

"It is a lot of money," Brennan remembered thinking.

In seeking answers, he thought of quarterbacks who took the money and ended up as first-round disappointments. He wondered if he would go "to a struggling franchise, and I did a Ryan Leaf (or) Akili Smith, which we've seen so many first-rounders do before. They fell off the map, even though they have money in their pocket."

He consulted with Leinart, who also turned down an early shot with the NFL to return to the University of Southern California for his senior season.

"It was hard," Brennan said. "I went back and forth constantly. I went back and forth until (Tuesday night)."

In the end, Brennan figured he did not want to leave a place where he has had the time of his life.


Four years ago, Brennan was dismissed from the University of Colorado football team because of a legal situation. After a year at Saddleback Community College, Brennan joined UH as a nonscholarship player. He was placed on scholarship in January 2006.

After consulting with his family on Tuesday, he decided to remain at UH.

With teammates holding signs yesterday begging him to stay, Brennan made his tearful announcement.

"I feel like Coach Jones and the University of Hawai'i gave me an opportunity at a time when no one else would," Brennan said at the news conference in the Stan Sheriff Center's Ed Wong Hospitality Suite. "I've been a part of something special these last two years. ... I decided to come back for my senior year."

Teammates and UH administrators greeted the announcement with cheers.

"It's a delayed New Year's present," junior wideout Jason Rivers said. "We're his friends first and teammates after that, and we would have supported him no matter what. But I'm so happy he made this decision."

Junior offensive lineman Hercules Satele said: "I heard all of these rumors. When he kept delaying it, I had hope. In the back of my mind, I thought he would stay, but you never know. This is great news. With him at the helm, we're only going to get better."

Jones said it was Hawai'i, as much as the football program, that made it impossible for Brennan to leave.

"I think the people here, the life experiences here, are second to none," Jones said. "I believe one day this will be Colt Brennan's home permanently. He was embraced here. People accept him here."


Indeed, Brennan said he felt that way when he returned to California for the holiday break.

"When I got out there, I felt I wasn't a local in my own home anymore," Brennan said, laughing. "I was driving around. I didn't know where things were. I was confused about things. This was the place I grew up. I was thrown off by how fast-paced it was, little stuff like that. I was laughing about it to (Stream). It felt good to get back to Hawai'i."

Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.