The roommate nailed it. When asked how Taylor Martinez should be remembered, Nebraska senior quarterback Ron Kellogg III put it this way: Explosive. Unbelievably fast. Broke a lot of Nebraska records. Had comeback wins.
Give or take a cell phone call, that's the legacy.
Martinez never got the championship that would have secured a seat at the elite table of Nebraska quarterbacks, though I'll always wonder what might have been had Shawn Watson put the second half of the 2010 Big 12 title game on Rex Burkhead's back instead of Martinez's fragile legs in the pocket.
His career here was a series of moments, flashes of lightning, that add up to a unique quarterback, unique in Nebraska history, with his own unique place in our memory.
Here's how I'll remember “T-Magic:”
1. The brilliance and wonder at the beginning. For me, it was captured on that Thursday night, Oct. 7, at Kansas State. Martinez had shown his speed at Washington, but that night he kept running sprints down the field, like Forrest Gump. It just seemed so easy back then. I'll never forget the image of K-State coach Bill Snyder slamming his play sheet to the ground as Martinez glided down the field on another 80-yard jaunt. Who was this guy?
2. The night at Texas A&M. There was so much to chew on that night, but the idea of texting your father at halftime, and the ensuing chewing-out by Bo Pelini on the sideline, will always be central to Martinez lore. Then the rumors of him missing practice the next day and going home. It all added up to the mystique that was Taylor.
3. The 76-yard touchdown run in Indy. That first-quarter run against Wisconsin at Lucas Oil Stadium last year was like a perfect metaphor for Martinez's career. He's been on a winding road, in and out through stereotypes and critics, but he stayed with it, never leaving the program, working with the quarterback coach, the big plays, the turnovers, and dropping jaws along the way. Also, the play gets lost in the big picture of that defeat. A flash of light that came and went. What did we see? Where did it go?
4. The hand shake. It came last year in Orlando, at a Capital One Bowl practice. After an interview, Martinez extended his hand and I shook it. I saw it as a sign of maturity, a sign of being comfortable. There were always so many times he didn't look comfortable in the glare of the fishbowl. That's OK. It's not for everyone. They said he wasn't a leader, but he did exactly that during those fourth-quarter comebacks. He was his own guy, for sure. A good guy, I think.
5. The plane ride. This happened last June, as my family and I were flying back from San Diego. We boarded a Southwest plane in Phoenix for Omaha and guess who had the passengers buzzing. Martinez walked to a seat in the back, armed with head phones and a video game. To my daughters, this was their first up-close glimpse of a celebrity, a Nebraska rock star. My oldest wanted to go back and get his autograph. She was told by the flight attendant that Martinez wasn't to be disturbed.
She walked back for a peek anyway. She later reported that Martinez was playing “Angry Birds.”
Thanks for the ride, Taylor. There were thrills, there was turbulence, but it was never dull and always memorable.
» The sooner that Shawn Eichorst can address the world at large after the Iowa game, the better. And not just with a statement. Husker Nation should hear his thoughts on the season, the state of the program, his expectations and designs for the future, including what he can do to help the coaching staff.
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» Georgetown is 3-2, Marquette lost by double digits to Ohio State and hoop heads say the Big East has stumbled out of the blocks. But guess who's No. 1 in conference RPI on the RPI website warrennolan.com? That's right, your Big East Conference, thanks to five undefeated teams, including Creighton, which checks in at No. 53 in the RPI. These are early projections but if the Big East can get a few more quality nonconference wins, CU's RPI will be trending upward in January and February instead of the usual body shots.
» The Jays play down the street from Disneyland on Thursday, in the Wooden Legacy in Fullerton. First up (10 p.m., Omaha time on ESPN2) is Arizona State, arguably their best nonconference game. Arguably, because if they get Marquette in the final, that's a league opponent.
» Last year someone asked me if UNO men's hoops would be attractive to the Missouri Valley Conference. I laughed it off. I'm not laughing anymore.
» Can we please apply for a Grant Gibbs extra year for Nebraska offensive tackle Jeremiah Sirles? Gonna miss that big guy. He's good people. Maybe he could just come back and do press conferences.
» Kind of cool watching Jordan Hooper play in Pinnacle Bank Arena knowing that she's going to have a banner or jersey number up on that wall someday.
» He can write you a heck of a football story, complete with chalkboard, but if you ever need a chauffeur in a snowstorm, I'm recommending Slammin' Sammy McKewon, who negotiated the World-Herald van (for the record, it was red) through a Pennsylvania snow blitz late Saturday night. I was in the kids' seat, in the way back, having a panic attack. The others, Rich Kaipust, Jon Nyatawa and Dirk Chatelain, were busy typing on their lap tops — which were, oddly enough, on their laps. Welcome to the new world press box, mobile and goes through snow.
» Dean Blais finally figured you can never have too much Ryan Massa in goal. Mr. Friday became Mr. Saturday and UNO ended up with an amazing 6-2 November that included Denver, North Dakota, Michigan and Miami, Ohio. The only thing that can cool off the Mavs is a bye week this weekend. Somebody get the Blackhawks on the phone. This team needs to play.
» I don't often follow college baseball recruiting, but the name Jacob Meyers caught my eye on Monday. That's the son of former Husker All-American Paul, now an associate athletic director at NU. Coach Darin Erstad cited Jacob for his “work ethic and fire.” Boy, that sounds familiar.
» Assuming Wisconsin wins Saturday and climbs into the top 14 of the BCS, Nebraska-Iowa could be for the Outback Bowl. Call it the Bloomin' Onion Bowl.
» I have no idea what to do with my Heisman ballot this year. Except wait as long as possible for news out of Tallahassee, Fla.
» You remember those black jerseys the Huskers wore for UCLA? Why not wear those for the Iowa game every year, for, you know, Black Friday? Or, you can forget I ever mentioned it.
» One more and I'm outta here: There were no shortage of people who questioned the idea of praising Saturday's win, based on Penn State being 6-5 and on probation. That was something special?
What about the 1994 win at K-State? Nebraska won that one with a third-team, walk-on quarterback named Matt Turman, handing off to Lawrence Phillips all day. That was a 17-6 win over a 16th-ranked Wildcat team that was good, nothing special, and would go to the Aloha Bowl. KSU Stadium is not exactly Beaver Stadium. And that's considered one of the storied wins of the 1990s.
What about the 2010 win at Iowa State? NU was coming off good wins over Oklahoma State and Mizzou, trying to win the Big 12 North for the last time. Taylor Martinez was out, Cody Green got the start. NU survived in overtime, 31-30, on an interception in the end zone. That was an unranked Iowa State team that would finish 5-7. Again, Jack Trice Field is not exactly Happy Valley. But that was considered a good win.
I get that people want to have standards, they want to guard against settling for this or that, falling off the national map, etc. But, man, put down your pitchforks and embrace a good, hard-earned effort.
The day I don't appreciate what I saw at Penn State, I'll turn in my Olivetti and I'll go chase golf balls.
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Video: Nebraska coach Bo Pelini at Monday's press conference
Video: Nebraska linebacker Michael Rose at Monday's press conference
Video: Nebraska quarterback Ron Kellogg at Monday's press conference
Video: Nebraska lineman Jeremiah Sirles at Monday's press conference
Video: Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah at Monday's press conference