DALLAS ― On instant replay, even the announcers thought Colt McCoy's injury didn't seem bad.
"We call it a brachial plexus stretch," said Dr. TO Souryal of Texas Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Group.
While he hasn't personally examined Colt McCoy, he has seen similar shoulder injuries plenty of times as the Dallas Mavericks team doctor for 18 years.
"When you hit your funny bone, imagine how that feels for the first few seconds,” he said. “Well, there is a large group of nerves that goes between the neck and the shoulder, and when you stretch those nerves, like hitting your funny bone, you get the same exact sensation which is described as a burner or a stinger."
Souryal said while so-called "stingers" or "dead arm syndrome" can last for hours or days, they usually resolve more quickly without treatment.
The injury cannot be seen on an x-ray. That might explain why the Texas Longhorns never made an official announcement about McCoy's injury and why the quarterback returned to the sidelines midgame fully suited.
"He still had his pads on in the second half," the doctor said. "I suspect that they were waiting for the nerves to come back, and ultimately, they never did."
Souryal said had McCoy tried to play without feeling in his arm, he might have risked a more serious injury.
"He could have aggravated the condition and instead of taking a short time for recovery, it might have taken a long time for recovery," he said.
Sideline medical decision making is a constant debate of risk versus reward.
"I can assure you that this decision (to take McCoy out of the game) would not have been difficult week two of the season,” Souryal said. “This is a decision where you're saying, 'You're not coming back no matter what happens.' But in the national championship game, this was a very difficult decision for everybody to make.
"He may have wanted to go back into the game. His dad may have wanted him to go back into the game. Coach Mac may have wanted him to go back in the game, but if the nerves are not back, the doctors won't let him," Souryal said.
Dr. TO Souryal can be heard Saturday mornings from 8 to 10 a.m. on 103.3 FM ESPN radio.