NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – Colt McCoy has always been a dreamer.
Only an eternal optimist could emerge from Tuscola, Texas – population 714 – and expect to become Mack Brown's starting quarterback.
Only a man of strong faith could show up in Austin at 180 pounds and think he was capable of playing in the Big 12.
Only an idealist would walk into his coach's office as a freshman, the season after Vince Young delivered a national championship, and announce that he was going to be the best to ever play the position for the Longhorns.
Credit this utopian with creating his own reality.
Four years later, McCoy is the winningest quarterback in college football history, the author of a 45-7 record and one win away from becoming the game's crown prince. He will try to write the final chapter to this fairy tale Thursday when No. 2 Texas meets No. 1 Alabama for the BCS championship at the Rose Bowl.
"He's been good every game he's been here," Brown said. "He gives us consistency. He's about the same guy every day so we know we're going to have a chance to win with him."
The Longhorns have won plenty behind the slender 6-foot-2 son of a coach. McCoy is the only player in NCAA history to collect 10 or more victories in each of his four seasons. Though he doesn't like to talk about personal accomplishments, his stat sheet is staggering: 70.3 percent career completion percentage, 112 touchdown passes, 13,244 passing yards, 155.0 passer rating.
"I think he does an outstanding job of executing their no-huddle, high-tempo offense," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "I think he does as fine a job of anyone in the country in terms of what they want to do."
McCoy is a two-time All-American. He won the 2009 Maxwell Award, the Davey O'Brien Award and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. He's captured just about every trophy there is – save the Heisman and the crystal ball that goes to the BCS champ.
Alabama sophomore running back Mark Ingram came away with the Heisman this year. Oklahoma's Sam Bradford edged out the Texas QB the prior season. McCoy intends to make sure Ingram doesn't grab the other honor that up to this point has eluded him.
"If I was playing for the Heisman Trophy I'd have quit a long time ago," McCoy said. "I don't play for awards. I don't play to be individually honored.
"Ultimately we're playing for the national championship. That was the goal from the beginning for our team. It's going to be special Thursday night."
To claim the crown Texas will have to solve Nick Saban's deep, diverse, attacking defense. McCoy called the outfit, which features Terrence Cody and Rolando McClain, a nightmare.
"I'm sick of watching film," McCoy said. "Every time you watch them they get better and better. They are confusing. They play three down, four down, mix up their dime and nickel packages. You never know where it's coming from or what's coming next.
"Being able to handle their blitzes and their pressures is going to be the key to the game."
There haven't been many situations McCoy hasn't solved since he matriculated to Central Texas. His dogged work in the weight room bulked him up to 215 pounds and formed a body much more capable of taking the pounding that comes with the position.
His ascension hasn't come without adversity. There was the time as a sophomore when he was booed off the field in the wake of a poor performance against Kansas State.
There was the heartbreak of a final-second loss to Texas Tech as a junior, the lone stumble in a season that kept Texas out of the national title game.
The failed Heisman campaigns of '08 and '09. … The nine-sack pummeling he took in this season's Big 12 championship game against Nebraska. … His nearly disastrous clock management before Hunter Lawrence's final-second field goal delivered the 'Horns over the 'Huskers 13-12 and into Pasadena.
But that's the thing about dreams. They can go from bad to good pretty quickly.
"Coach Brown said it best," McCoy said. "We need to come in here and have fun and do what we've been doing all year. Don't make it bigger than what it is. That's kind of my mentality.
"We understood that we were one game away, one second away from playing for the national championship [last year]. We wanted to do everything we could to get here."
To leave as champions McCoy will have to avert Alabama's defensive pressure by scrambling, running the option and getting rid of passes quickly. His roommate and top receiving target Jordan Shipley will play a key role in keeping the Tide defense honest.
"I visualize making good plays, making the right protection calls, throwing touchdowns," McCoy said. "You have to have positive thoughts going in. I was always taught thoughts become things."
Things like championships.