HANSEN

Greg Hansen: Receivers coach for Beavers has spot in Arizona football's roll of heroes

2012-09-29T00:00:00Z 2012-09-29T16:04:45Z Greg Hansen: Receivers coach for Beavers has spot in Arizona football's roll of heroesGreg Hansen Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
September 29, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Dear Mr. Football: Does the man who scored the most important touchdown in UA history really want the Beavers to win today?

A: Brad Brennan - remember him? - is now an assistant receivers coach at Oregon State, helping his brother, Brent Brennan, who was a grad assistant at Arizona in 2000.

Brad Brennan was one of those Dick Tomey guys who got the most out of the ability the Lord gave him, and then a bit more. In the 1998 Holiday Bowl, with Arizona trailing Nebraska 20-16 in the final three minutes, the receiver found about 6 inches of open space in the corner of the end zone and caught a 15-yard TD pass from Keith Smith. That catch beat the Cornhuskers 23-20, capping a historic 12-1 season.

Dear Mr. Football: How much UA blood does Brennan have?

A: In a tears-producing scenario at Camp Cochise before the 1997 season, Brennan (a former walk-on who was about 5-10, 165 pounds) was awarded a scholarship by Tomey. That triggered an impromptu dog pile (Brennan was the underdog at the bottom of that pile).

He caught 69 passes, 11 for touchdowns, as a Wildcat, sharing time with four of the greatest receivers in school history: Dennis Northcutt, Jeremy McDaniel, Richard Dice and Bobby Wade. How's that for elite company?

The UA blood in the Brennan family goes deeper: Brad and Brent's younger brother, Pat, is a UA grad who played on the Arizona water polo team. After leaving Tucson, Brad Brennan played 10 years of pro football in Japan, helping the Fujitsu Frontier to the 2006 championship.

Dear Mr. Football: Is there another Brennan rising through the football ranks?

A: Blake Brennan, the 9-year-old daughter of Brent, does a weekly video interview series for the Oregonian newspaper. She's good, too. Blake interviewed star OSU defensive lineman Andrew Seumalo and got him to admit he loved watching Bugs Bunny cartoons. Then Blake interviewed Beavers QB Sean Mannion and got him to confess that he is a fan of SpongeBob SquarePants.

If you don't like the Brennan family, you don't have a heart. Brent more than paid his dues in college football. He twice was on coaching staffs that were fired (at Arizona in 2000 and at San Jose State in 2010), so it became a rewarding story when he arrived at Oregon State, inheriting Markus Wheaton, who for my money is the best go-to receiver in the Pac-12.

Dear Mr. Football: Why did Arizona rush to market copper helmets?

A: In the spy vs. spy business of the Territorial Cup blood feud, word leaked that the Sun Devils were also tinkering with the concept of copper lids.

One thing Greg Byrne has done since becoming Arizona's athletic director in May 2010 is to be a step ahead of ASU. It wasn't very hard when Lisa Love ran the show in Tempe, but now that ASU has a new administration, the Sun Devils have been quick to follow Byrne's directives in social media, community awareness, accessibility and approachability. It's almost laughable: Whatever Byrne does, ASU does next.

Being first to wear copper helmets would've been a significant coup for the Sun Devils; it would've been their public salvo at taking command of the state, an initiative Byrne coveted and pursued from the beginning, hence those "Wildcat Country" billboards in Phoenix and on the state's borders.

Byrne doesn't do anything half-way. UA fans can now buy copper-colored Wildcat T-shirts and other paraphernalia. Also, expect the end zones at Arizona Stadium to be painted with a navy blue background and copper lettering tonight.

Dear Mr. Football: Does it matter much that Oregon State is on a 5-0 winning streak in Arizona?

A: C'mon, it's not like the Beavers were beating Alabama or Ohio State. And it's not like it's even close to a record. Texas Tech went 9-0-1 in Tucson from 1933-57. Colorado is working on a 7-0 streak here that began in 1931. Even Utah was 5-0-2 in Tucson from 1947-67, and, predictably, USC is 5-0 at Arizona Stadium dating to 2001.

You could win a bet on this one: ASU has never won five straight in Tucson, not even under Frank Kush.

Dear Mr. Football: Who will be the best football player on the field tonight?

A: The man in jersey No. 14 who isn't wearing a copper helmet, OSU cornerback-returner Jordan Poyer, would likely be a first-team All-American if he played at a publicity factory like Texas or Florida State.

Poyer might be the best story, too. He played for the small-school Astoria High Fishermen on the Oregon coast - he says he has almost never gone fishing - and was all-state in baseball and his league's basketball player of the year. To arrive at OSU, he declined scholarship offers from Eastern Washington, Portland State and Idaho. Even the Ducks missed on him.

It's not like Poyer's emergence as a franchise player is that surprising. His athletic genes are off the charts: His grandfather, Lynn Baxter, was part of OSU's 1964 Final Four basketball team, a member of the OSU track team, and, in 1992, the Oregon Senior Open golf champion. His mom played softball at Eastern New Mexico, and his dad was a football player at ENMU.

There's even an Arizona-type touch in Poyer's background. His family owned the Wilbur Lumber Company in Salem, Oregon. Wilbur Wildcat? Could it be? Naw.

Dear Mr. Football: What's the biggest difference between Oregon State and Oregon?

A: As you drive to Autzen Stadium in Eugene, a chip-shot field goal from the Nike-funded athletic plant, you pass a Mercedes dealership and then a BMW dealership. The irony is about the only people in Eugene who can afford those cars are coaches on the UO payroll.

When you arrive at Oregon State's Reser Stadium in Corvallis, you cross railroad tracks.

For a celebratory postgame meal at UCLA, the Beavers stopped at In-N-Out burger in Burbank, Calif., and splurged. The same day, at Autzen Stadium, the ticket marketplace on the UO website advertised a pair of tickets for $1,200, that included "a postgame party" in the Autzen suites.

Dear Mr. Football: Who parties tonight?

A: Attention Mike Riley: The In-N-Out burger joint on Ajo Way near Kino Parkway is no more than 500 yards off the route to the airport. Order ahead and avoid being stalled in Tucson until 1 a.m.

I don't think Oregon State is Top 25-good - its two victims, Wisconsin and UCLA are seriously flawed - but Arizona has holes everywhere. In a battle of the two most resourceful coaches in Pac-12 football, I'll take the Beavers 31, Arizona 30.

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