LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Yes Virginia, there is a Graham Harrell.
Gather enough All-American football players together in the same resort complex, and things are bound to get surreal. Take Thursday night, for instance. As the clock neared midnight, Texas Tech quarterback Harrell sat at a table in the ESPN Zone at the Walt Disney Boardwalk eating a late dinner with his family and Texas quarterback Colt McCoy. A Texas Tech fan and his young son approached the table and said hello. Suddenly, the kid was sitting on Harrell's knee. That's right, boys and girls, the guy who finished second in the NCAA in passing yardage and third in touchdown passes was being treated like a mall Santa.
It's anybody's guess how the conversation went.
Harrell: And what would you like for Christmas, young man?
Precocious progeny of Texas Tech fan: Graham Claus, I want you to hang 50 on Ole Miss in the first half of the Cotton Bowl just so I can see the Houston Nutt interview at halftime.
OK, that's probably not what the kid said -- he would have settled for 40 points -- but Harrell smiled, chatted and generally made the kid's night. Which is all the more impressive considering the fact that, of the quarterbacks who captured the nation's imagination this year, Harrell has received the least recognition for his efforts.
Thursday had to have frustrated Harrell, and that makes his graciousness even more laudable. Harrell came to Disney to attend the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show. Entering the week, he probably assumed he would jet straight from Orlando to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony, but so many voters left Harrell, his 4,747 passing yards and 41 passing touchdowns off their ballots that he didn't get invited to the ceremony.
To make matters worse, Harrell, who led his team to the same 11-1 regular-season record that McCoy, Florida's Tim Tebow and Oklahoma's Sam Bradford led their teams to, won't even have to check a massive trophy when he gets to the ticket counter Friday. Tebow won the Maxwell Award, while Bradford won the Davey O'Brien. McCoy also left the House of Mouse empty-handed, but at least he still has a chance at the Heisman and the opportunity to wash down a Woody Allen from the Carnegie Deli with a cupcake from Magnolia Bakery.
And that's a shame. All four quarterbacks conspired to make this one of the most entertaining college football seasons in recent memory. It would have been fitting to see them cap it together in Times Square.