David Greene remembers the phone call as if were yesterday. It was the second week of November 2004, and Georgia had just beaten Kentucky 62-17. It was Greene's 39th career victory as Georgia's starting quarterback.
With that win Greene had broken the NCAA Division I-A record for victories by a starting quarterback. The guy who previously held the record was on the line. His name was Peyton Manning.
"He was so gracious," Greene recalled. "He said that he was happy that I broke the record because to him it was one of the best records a quarterback can achieve. Because ultimately, quarterbacks are judged on one thing: How many games did you win?"
|The 42nd and final win of David Greene's college career was a New Year's Day bowl victory over Wisconsin. (Getty Images)|
"When I left college football I figured somebody would break the record sooner or later," Greene said. "I just never figured it would come this soon."
David Greene plans to make a call to Austin, Texas, on Sunday because, barring an upset of epic proportions, No. 3 Texas (10-0) will beat Kansas (5-5) at Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium. The win will be Colt McCoy's 43rd as the starting quarterback of the Longhorns.
"I'm like anybody else. You really don't want to see your records broken," said Greene, who was 42-10 as Georgia's starting quarterback. "But if somebody is going to break the record, I would want it to be somebody like Colt. I don't know him personally, but you can tell by listening to him that he is a team guy and a very humble guy. I like that."
McCoy enters Saturday night's game against Kansas with a career record of 42-7. The teams that he has quarterbacked at Texas have been 10-3 (2006), 10-3 (2007), and 12-1 (2008). The current Texas team is 10-0. If the Longhorns beat Kansas, they will clinch the Big 12's South Division and McCoy will have a 43-7 record with three games to play: Texas A&M on Thanksgiving Day, the Big 12 Championship Game on Dec. 5, and a bowl game. If Texas wins the first two, McCoy will end his legendary career in the BCS championship game in Pasadena on Jan. 7. Win them all and McCoy will leave college football with 46 career wins, almost 12 per season.
That record, Greene said, is going to be difficult for anybody to touch.
"Peyton said this and I know Colt feels the same way," said Greene, who had a brief stint in the NFL before returning to Atlanta and entering private business. "When you get right down to it, this record is a team record. I don't care how good a quarterback you are, if you don't play on great teams, you will never have a chance to win 40 games. You have to be in the right place at the right time. You have to prove that you can play the position as a freshman. And you have to be a little bit lucky."
Greene, a 6-4 lefty with a skilled passing touch, considers himself to be in the lucky category. He redshirted his first season at Georgia (2000) while Quincy Carter was the Bulldogs' quarterback under head coach Jim Donnan. Donnan has second-guessed himself more than once for redshirting Greene because Georgia went 8-4 in 2000 and lost to arch-rival Georgia Tech for the third consecutive season.
Donnan was dismissed at Georgia, which then hired Florida State offensive coordinator Mark Richt. Richt was known for his development of quarterbacks; among his pupils were Charlie Ward, the 1993 Heisman Trophy winner, and Chris Weinke, the 2000 Heisman winner.
"David had all the tools and I knew pretty early he was pretty darned good," said Richt, now in his ninth season at Georgia. "He may have been the best student of the game from the very beginning of anybody I've coached. What he learned in our meetings he took directly to the field and he would progress exactly the way he was taught."
Greene also showed early in his career that he could perform in the spotlight. When he was a redshirt freshman, Georgia went to Tennessee and was seemingly beat when the Volunteers scored with 44 seconds left to take a 24-20 lead. Greene took Georgia quickly down the field and threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Verron Haynes with only five seconds left. It was Greene's first signature victory as a starting quarterback and Richt's first signature win as Georgia's head coach.
As a sophomore in 2002, Georgia trailed at Auburn in the closing minutes. Greene threw a perfect 19-yard touchdown pass to Michael Johnson with only 1:25 left, giving the Bulldogs a 24-21 victory and their first-ever trip to the SEC Championship Game. Two games later Georgia beat Arkansas for its first SEC title in 20 years.
"It's funny. With every quarterback I've ever had, even with guys like Charlie [Ward] and Chris [Weinke] there was a time when they didn't play well and everybody wanted to get rid of them," Richt said. "David really never went through that. He has his defining moments early in his career and just kept on winning."
"If there was ever a perfect fit, it was me with Coach Richt," Greene said. "He taught me how to play the position and how to manage a game. That's what a quarterback has to do when he is surrounded by good players. You just get the ball into the hands of guys who can make plays. Don't try to do too much."
That, teammate David Pollack said, was the key to Greene's success at Georgia.
"We had a great defense and David knew that if he didn't put the defense in a bad spot, the odds were that we were going to win," said Pollack, a defensive end who, along with Herschel Walker, was Georgia's only three-time All-American. "But saying it and doing it are two different things. David always played under control. His attitude never changed if we were ahead or behind."
Greene said he admires McCoy for his ability to beat opponents with his arm and with his feet. "He has to do a lot for their offense but he always seems to be under control," he said. "He doesn't seem to have a lot of ego. He just looks like a good old country boy who enjoys playing football and winning."
Last week Greene was visited by a writer from Austin who wanted to know how the former Dawg felt about his record being broken by the guy from Texas.
"I told him that I enjoyed having the record as long as I did, but in this point in my life I'm changing diapers and working," said Greene, whose son, Jordan, will turn 2 years old next week. Greene and his wife, Veronica, started dating when he was a junior in high school.
"I enjoyed everything about college football and was really fortunate to play on some very good teams with a lot of great players. It was a great time in my life."
When Colt McCoy is breaking his record in Austin, Greene will be at Georgia's Sanford Stadium, watching his beloved Bulldogs play Kentucky. He'll be listening for the score. When Texas puts the game away, Greene said he will probably smile.
Five years ago Peyton Manning generously passed the torch to him. Come Sunday, Greene said, he will gladly place the call and do the same for Colt McCoy.
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