Colt Brennan changed college football landscape forever

To watch former Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan took dedication: to dropping a chunk of change on the college football TV package in the days before every game was televised in one form or another, and then to staying up late on the East Coast to see Brennan toss five touchdowns and the Rainbow Warriors drop 60 points on San Jose State, Idaho and the other patsies in the Western Athletic Conference.

But to watch Brennan was to witness a player well ahead of his time: The three-year starter and Heisman Trophy contender put up video-game numbers in a pass-happy system long before gaudy passing totals became the standard, earning him a place in college football history even as later quarterbacks bumped Brennan’s name down the charts in the NCAA record books.

Brennan died Tuesday at 37, his father told ESPN. 

The number of players able to entrance a national audience has grown exponentially in the age of Twitter and breathless year-round coverage of the sport. In the years just before the social media explosion, Brennan was an organic national star — without the help of trends and hashtags, his production and success in coach June Jones’ run-and-shoot offense made Brennan must-see TV.