THE THEORY OF CHASE DANIEL

Chase Daniel threw for 33 TDs last year, lead Missouri to its best finish of the Gary Pinkel era, and managed to fool the entirety of college football into thinking he was a humble 21 year old, and not the 37 year-old pizza deliveryman riding the most improbable streak of late-blooming athletic talent the world has ever seen since the rise (pun) of Shigeo Tokuda.

Not that anyone's lying here, but consider the carefully

An outstanding all-around athlete who is also a First-Team all-district pitcher/outfielder in baseball, and a member of his school's sprint relay team in track

What's missing form this statement? The tag words ...in 1989, of course. We are more than happy to believe Daniel is a stellar athlete, since that's apparent to anyone who's watched him drop the hammer on finely tuned throttle of the Mizzou offense. (Zero to forty points: four quarters. Standard road conditions and hopelessly waving Big 12 dbs apply.)

What we will not do is ignore the fact that Daniel looks, for lack of a more delicate word, a bit schlubby for a Big 12 qb. He's a Chris Leak-six footer with a bit of spare flub about the middle and the chinstrap beard of a Sunglass Hut romeo who specializes in picking up high school women. (OMG! He has a SPORTS CAR AND HIS OWN APARTMENT!!11!!!)

He looks (conservatively) five years older than his surrounding cast, and saying we don't think that every time he plays is like saying somewhere, deep in our dark soul, we don't want Nick Saban to skydive into Tiger Stadium for his own safety this season trailing a long plume of red and white smoke from a lit Crimson Tide-themed flare he's holding. We're fine with lying to ourselves, but to you? Never. We swear.

Daniel, living the dream as he is, is officially on our list of "People We Love" as an atypical-looking successful college qb along with Freddie Kitchens, Rohan "Skinny Wickets" Davey, and Jared Lorenzen. We're not alone in this: Daniel earned the cover of SI's Big 12 Edition, and they're of a similar mind on their theories surrounding Daniel's origins.

For the record, Daniel has gone to a goatee for 2008. When the chips are down, though, we know Daniel will go return to the chinstrap whether he likes it or not. Its magic is powerful and undeniable. Look for it to spontaneously reform itself from the goatee's hair when the Tigers need some comeback juju down by two TDs late to a conference rival.

(Oh, apologies! Chase Daniel looks like a killing machine! GRRR!! MUSCLES AND BEARDS!!!)

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