Aug. 8, 2005


By Brian Litvack

CSTV.com



If you happened to be mingling in an exclusive and trendy Sunset strip L.A. nightclub recently, you may have bumped into pals Matt Leinart and Nick Lachey. You would most likely marvel at the USC quarterback and the teen heartthrob as two guys living the good life in Hollywood.



So, who is the bigger Hollywood star these days?



True, Leinart's boy band buddy Lachey can be seen on MTV's Newlyweds with his wife Jessica Simpson. But Leinart has his own show as well at mattreggietv.com, a video blog that will allow Leinart and his star back Reggie Bush to chronicle the 2005 season.



The fact that the USC quarterback and Heisman trophy winner can even compare his celebrity status to Lachey is a Tinseltown tale in itself. After all, Mr. Jessica Simpson works as hard as anybody in Show Biz, outside of Paris Hilton, at his celebrity status. Meanwhile, Leinart spent his summer recovering from shoulder surgery, studying game film and enrolling in classes for the fall semester.



Matt Leinart, a laid-back and humble college student, is the darling of college sports. He has lead USC to a 22 victories in a row and has a career pass efficiency rating (157.83) that rivals Einstein's IQ. In February, he decided to put his professional career on hold and return to USC for a fifth season.



Leinart is proud to "send a message throughout college football that money and the pros can wait. College football is a time where it's fun and you're never going to get that back."



He returned to college because he loves the lifestyle. Who wouldn't?



Leinart's rise to glory has skyrocketed like Google's IPO. Three years ago, he was battling for the backup QB position at USC. Two years ago, Leinart attained "Big Man On Campus" status by leading the Trojans to a National Championship. Last year, he hard-coded his name in the record books by taking home Johnny Heisman's trophy and leading the Trojans to a second straight National Championship.



This season, Leinart has the chance to become the most celebrated and accomplished quarterback in the history of college football. Even if all you read for the next few months is Teen People, you'll still be sure to hear about it.



That's right. Leinart's name appeared in the magazine, romantically linked to actress Alyssa Milano. The rumor mill also has him dating Kristen from MTV's Laguna Beach, and the point guard on the USC women's basketball team. Supposedly, this has all happened since he dumped his surfer/model girlfriend Veronica Kay. Paris can't be far behind, and perhaps even Lachey should keep close tabs on his better half.



Leinart claims that he is just a college kid who likes to hang out and play video games. Leinart was able to part ways with his PlayStation this summer to throw out the first pitch at an Angels' game, hobnob with LeBron and Maria Sharapova at the ESPY's (where he won Best College Athlete), and chat with California's Governator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger.



Oh yeah, Leinart also managed to work with disabled children as the keynote speaker at the Special Olympics. He discussed overcoming his own disability as a child. Leinart was born cross-eyed and needed two surgeries to correct his vision.



Last week, during Pac-10 media day, Leinart's only facial feature to draw attention was his shaggy hair and scruffy beard.



"That might be my new thing this year, a beard," Leinart joked, but then added that it's attached to his face partly because of his own laziness and partly because he can.



A college athlete knows he has transcended student-athlete status once he becomes a fashion statement. The Fab Five had black socks and baggy shorts and the Boz rocked a Mohawk.



Many pundits have questioned and even criticized Leinart's decision to return to college. He was a lock to be the first selection in the NFL Draft and to cash in on a monster paycheck.



Instead, Leinart has decided to return to college for what has the potential to be the greatest two semesters anyone has ever enjoyed in the history of higher education. A second Heisman, a third title and a few more good times are awaiting.



Bill Walton in his amateur days, Van Wilder and the dude who created Napster could all be morphed into one and perhaps then you could begin to realize how cool it is to be Matt Leinart.