Connor Halliday's career should be celebrated

Connor Halliday’s broken ankle sent shock waves through the Pac-12 over the weekend when it became clear his career as a quarterback at Washington State was over. The consensus: It’s not fair.

The injury’s not fair. The timing’s not fair. Halliday’s whole career, really, wasn’t fair.

In an excellent piece on Grantland last week, Halliday summed it up pretty succinctly: “To be honest, the timing of my college career just kind of sucks.”

And that was before he went down against USC, three games before he could officially move on from a career that will be defined by stats, not wins. For Halliday, the NFL was the light at the end of a long tunnel in bumper-to-bumper traffic and just when he was almost out … another road block.

It’s impossible not to feel for the guy, even more so after reading this tweet he sent out at 3:47 a.m., following surgery.

Washington State coach Mike Leach said Halliday is “disappointed, but knows it’s important to move forward,” and forecasted success at the next level for the player who finished his career as the school's all-time leader in passing yards (11,308) and touchdown passes (90). Had Halliday not gotten injured, he would have likely finished No. 2 on the Pac-12’s all-time lists for touchdown passes and passing yards.

“I can’t think of anyone in the country I think is better,” Leach said of Halliday’s NFL prospects.

Considering the circumstances, we’ll forgive Leach for maybe a hint of bias, but he’s not the only Pac-12 coach who sees more success to come for Halliday.

“His mental and physical toughness is obviously very evident. He can make all the throws,” said USC coach Steve Sarkisian, who has been watching Halliday since high school. “I think his release has gotten quicker. I think he’s going to translate fine [to the NFL].

“I think he’s got a bright future ahead of him. We wish him a very healthy and speedy recovery.”

Leach gave no time frame for Halliday’s expected recovery, so it was not immediately clear at what point he’ll be able to resume his pursuit of a professional career.

He’s been a phenomenal player. He’s a tough guy,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said. “He’s done a great job in that system of not just putting up yards and points, but looking like he’s been a great leader for them, too. So I’m sure right now he’s upset, but when he looks back at his career and what he’s accomplished and helping that program -- it’s been phenomenal.”

The Spokane, Washington, native’s statistical accomplishments are the stuff of video games played on an easy setting.

He threw for 300 yards or more in a game 21 times, and more than half those games (12) he went for 400-plus. Over the past two seasons, when Halliday was the Cougars’ clear starting quarterback, he put up an FBS-best five 500-yard games; nobody else has had more than two.

His FBS single-game record 734 yards against Cal should have been celebrated, but thanks to a questionable non-call at the goal line in the final minute and a missed field goal, it only served as a source of frustration for the fifth-year senior. Unfortunately, that was the story of his career.

Washington State left tackle Joe Dahl said most the team dropped by the hospital to visit with Halliday in the days after the injury.

"Obviously, he's upset, but I think that's expected,” he said. “It's a tough time for him; it's a tough time for all of us. We all feel for him."

The Pac-12 blog feels for him too. Here are a few Haikus to help celebrate one of the Pac-12’s best:

Halliday Haikus

Warrior QB

He threw the ball a lot

Halliday celebrate

-Ted Miller

Pirate coach, can’n arm

Air raid, hard played, deep fade

Lives to throw once more

-Chantel Jennings

On the record pace

Hurt three games from history's place

Halliday, QB ace

-David Lombardi

Toughness is his trait

Brought Wazzu to a bowl game

Best is still to come

-Kyle Bonagura