Connor Halliday's career at Washington State is over. Mike Leach confirmed Halliday was undergoing surgery for a broken fibula after Washington State's loss to USC -- an injury that he won't recover from in time for the final regular season game barring some kind of miracle. And his career ended in about the most awful, heart-breaking way possible.
The realization that it was over for Halliday came fast: As he laid on the ground and the cameras cut to him, Halliday was screaming what I assume was a very terrible scream. The kid that's played through just about every kind of injury -- visible and not -- was hurt bad enough that all he could do was scream. That's how bad things were after he got rolled up on by some very large men.
Consider the things Halliday been through. In his second real game action, he played through a lacerated liver for more than a half and overtime, and almost beat Utah in the process. He passed out on the sideline at one point ("rested on a teammate") and finished the game before being quietly rushed to the hospital. He's taken countless brutal hits, high and low, early and late. Knowing what his pain tolerance is, it was apparent as he laid on the ground screaming in pain and grasping for the trainers that something very bad had happened.
It hurt to watch.
This season has been a lost season for a month -- you're kidding yourself if you think otherwise. The coaches know it, people around the program know it, and most of the fans have figured it out. The bright spot, maybe the only bright spot, was getting to watch Halliday play it out.
Stats are meaningless without wins -- the players and coaches will tell you that until they're blue in the face. But in the absence of a team that could compete, watching Halliday light up the field and fill the stat sheet was the one thing we could count on. Win or lose, Halliday was going to do something. It's always been like that for him.
He was going to chase Pac-12 records and put WSU records out of reach. He was going to throw the ball an obscene amount of times. Maybe he was going to will the team to an upset or two down the stretch, as he's done before.
Earlier this week, Grantland ran a long piece on Halliday and Leach and the relationship between the two. They're the same person in a ton of ways, and that's why they butt heads so much. It just took them a while to realize it. It's a good piece that you should read, especially now.
Right up top in the piece is this quote, which summarizes Halliday nicely:
"To be honest," he says, "the timing of my college career just kind of sucks."
This is Halliday in a sentence: Brutally honest at every turn, but still telling a piercing truth. The timing of Halliday's career at Washington State has sucked. Move him back or forward a few years and you're looking at an all-time great not just in stats (which he is), but the quarterback of some great teams. He and Jeff Tuel fell into a gap filled with real bad football. They both did everything they could, and it took a serious toll on both of their bodies.
That's why this sucks and that's why this stings way too much. Watching Halliday perform while finishing out his career and assaulting every record possible was fun. He deserved to finish the season. He deserved to walk out on senior night to lead the offense. He deserved it because he came to Washington State at a terrible time and worked his ass off to make something of it.
You may not like Connor Halliday. You may think he makes poor decisions on the field at times or throws too many interceptions. He was polarizing, after all, even if in reality he was never that polarizing at all.
But you have to respect Halliday, everything he's been through, and everything he's tried to do to help this team and this program. It shouldn't have ended like this. It wasn't fair to anyone.