McNown can recite every winner since the first, Jay Berwanger in 1935, a list he memorized while in high school.
This brings only a knowing smile.
It was 31 years ago that quarterback Gary Beban became the only Bruin to win the Heisman, and no one from UCLA has sniffed it since. McNown finished eighth in last year's balloting after throwing for at least 200 yards in each of the Bruins' 11 regular-season games and for 22 touchdowns with just five interceptions. Among returning Heisman vote-getters, only Texas running back Ricky Williams, with his fifth-place finish, fared better. While Kentucky quarterback Tim Couch, another early favorite, will probably have gaudier numbers this season, McNown is sure to have the better team. All this could lead to HEISMANIA! as it says on billboards that have sprouted like weeds across Los Angeles as part of UCLA's attempt to sell both McNown's candidacy and season tickets.
While underestimating his physical gifts, which are considerable, those around McNown usually attribute his success to the kind of intangibles that aren't measured at the NFL scouting combine: his grounded attitude—"He doesn't get that big brain," says a teammate, tailback Jermaine Lewis—and his work ethic. "Cade is a voracious learner," says Toledo, who then tells one of his favorite stories about McNown. It seems that after McNown signed with the Bruins, he persuaded Toledo, then the UCLA offensive coordinator, to send him the Bruins' playbook. "Pretty soon my home phone began ringing off the hook, usually at around 11 at night, because Cade had thought of a new question," says Toledo.
"I don't know if I've ever seen a guy at his age  who is as much a student of the game as Cade is," says Aikman, a poster of whom competes with one of Dan Marino for wall space at the guest house McNown rents on a leafy street in Bel-Air. (It's not as cushy as the neighborhood suggests.) Aikman and McNown became friends last December when they dined together the week of the Cotton Bowl, a game in which McNown was selected most outstanding offensive player after bringing UCLA back from a 16-0 deficit to a 29-23 victory. "He's got a commitment to his team and a commitment to winning that is pretty rare," says Aikman. "I'm real proud of Cade, the way he handles himself and what he stands for."
In June, for the first time since fleeing Hollister, Cade spoke to his father, who had traveled to West Linn for a family party celebrating the graduations of Jeff Jr. from chiropractic college and of Alyssa, the younger of Cade's sisters, from high school. "We said hi. It was no big deal," Cade says. "He doesn't even feel like my father anymore."
The elder Jeff says he isn't discouraged by Cade's attitude. This season, just as he has the previous three, he will journey to all of UCLA's home games, where he will sit in the stands and cheer for his son—but make no attempt to contact him at game's end. "He blames me for the divorce, which I can't help," says Jeff. "But for a guy who's become so religious, whatever happened to forgiveness?"
Says Cade, "He has never taken responsibility for his actions."
But the answer may be more complicated than that. Leaving Hollister made Cade as a person and as a player. He isn't inclined to look back.