Harrington, Pesavento Took Different Paths To Fiesta Showdown
Dec. 31, 2001
By BOB BAUM
AP Sports Writer
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - The two Fiesta Bowl quarterbacks took far differentroutes to the last and largest game of their college careers.
Oregon's Joey Harrington came down Broadway, a flashy Heisman Trophyfinalist with a flair for the dramatic.
Colorado's Bobby Pesavento took a bumpy back road, mostly as a reserve untilwell into his senior season, when he took command of an offense thatsteamrolled Nebraska and Texas to win the Big 12 title.
Harrington is 'Joey Heisman' or, as his teammates refer to him, 'ThePrincess,' because he can't be touched during practice. Before the seasonbegan, his photo adorned a giant poster in Manhattan to tout his Heismancandidacy.
'Joey Harrington probably had more pressure on him coming into this seasonthan any football player in the nation due to the 100-foot poster in NewYork,' coach Mike Bellotti said. 'He obviously backed that up with atremendous season.'
Harrington, 24-3 as a starter for the Ducks, passed for 2,414 yards and 23touchdowns while being intercepted just five times and was named Pac-10offensive player of the year. The statistics were good but notmind-boggling, largely because of the Ducks' strong running game.
Most impressively, Harrington has directed the Ducks to 10 fourth-quartercomeback victories, four this season.
'We haven't played a guy who can just will his team back in the fourthquarter,' Colorado free safety Michael Lewis said. 'This guy has done itnumerous times.'
In Tuesday's game, Harrington will return to the scene of his greatestcomeback, when he led Oregon back from 14 points down in the final fiveminutes and threw for a career-high 434 yards in a double-overtime victoryover Arizona State.
'My energy level rises but I get calmer, if that's possible,' Harringtonsaid of his late heroics. 'What a lot of people tend to do is get real tightand get all psyched up and take themselves out of their game.
'What I try to do is create an energy, create an excitement, but at the sametime keep everybody focused and realize it's still just a game, that we haveto move the football like we have been all year.'
Off the field, Harrington plays jazz piano and is at the center of collegelife. He can be found in a red wig in the middle of the raucous studentsection at Ducks basketball games.
'On the field, he's real intense. He has his task at hand and he knows whathe wants and tries as hard as he can to get it,' wide receiver Keenan Howrysaid. 'Off the field, he's kind of goofy.'
There were no 100-foot posters for Pesavento, just a postage stamp-size mugshot in the media guide. He first attended Miami of Ohio for two years, oneas a redshirt freshman, then went to Fort Scott Community College.
By the time he arrived at Colorado in 2000, he had three years of collegebehind him. He started two games as a junior, but was mostly relegated to abackup role until sophomore starter Craig Ochs went down with an ankleinjury against Oklahoma State on Oct. 27.
'I thought I was going to come in and start right away, and things didn'twork out,' Pesavento said. 'I did keep my head high and kept my confidenceup. It took awhile to get that opportunity, but it came and it's just beengreat.'
Ochs was healthy enough to play in the Big 12 title game against Texas, butby then Pesavento was running the offense so well that there was no reasonto make a change.
'Bobby's efficiency has been tremendous. It's been incredible,' Coloradocoach Gary Barnett said. 'He knows the system and he plays within the systemso well. The other thing is he's one of these seniors, and this is asenior-driven team. They have tremendous confidence in him, and there'stremendous chemistry when he's in there.'
Pesavento is reserved, Harrington speaks his mind.
Last week, the Oregon quarterback told a Portland reporter that he thoughtUCLA and Oregon State had a better defense than Colorado.
'I didn't know he was being that cocky,' Lewis said when told of the remark.'But hey, that's just added motivation. Thank you, Joey.'