Rose Bowl breakdown

January 4th 2006 I realized that reality produces the most intriguing stories possible. If a movie came out where: two teams ranked #1 and #2 for the duration of the season, the Heisman winner came from the favorite and the runner up came from the underdog, the game was played in the most famous bowl in the country in the backyard of the favorite, the underdog and Heisman runner-up overcame a 12 point deficit in the final 6 minutes of the fourth quarter on a touchdown run on 4th and 5 with 19 seconds to play the movie would be ripped by the critics for being too unbelievable. That movie would be ridiculous but the reality of the situation is you can purchase that movie right now.

It still has not sunk in what I witnessed that day. Expert analysts immediately called it the greatest game of all time, the greatest player performance of all time. I can’t imagine setting the stage any better. It had the anticipation of an entire football season. It had pregame controversy when Vince claimed he was disappointed he was not voted the winner of the Heisman and when USCPN whoops I mean ESPN worked around the clock for a month laying out the red carpet and draping the pronounced “Greatest Team of All Time” with every compliment known to man. It had the star power. It had the coaches. It had traditional powerhouse programs. It had two states where football is king. To tell you the truth by the time I got to the stadium I was sick of the talk, the analysis, the breakdowns, the predictions. I was ready for it all to become reality.

I knew Texas was going to show up for one reason. It’s the same reason why Oklahoma got smoked last year. Swagger. It starts with VY and it trickles all the way down. Last summer the players got Mack listening to rap and ever since the team has had a confidence, they’ve stayed loose, and they’ve had no fear. After the Big 12 Championship a reporter asked Vince if Texas would be intimidated by USC. Vince just laughed and asked “Intimidated by what?” For better or worse they had that attitude. They were going to work hard and prepare for their opponent seriously but regardless in their minds they were going to win the game. This is a gangster team and they loved to be hated on. Everyone and everything that was subjective went against them: the human polls, the analysts, Vegas, the Heisman voters. The only thing in their favor, which happens to be one of the few objective factors in college football, was the computer polls. But even that didn’t matter. They had been in this position before. On a trip up to Columbus all the analysts and Vegas had the Buckeyes even though the polls showed that would be an upset. This team was holding their own Shock the World tour.

That’s why I knew on 4th and 2 if we got the ball back we were National Champs. That’s why anyone who is second guessing Pete Carroll about his decision to go for it is a complete fool. From the perspective of a very biased Texas fan, I am praying to God that he punts that ball. Texas’ offense hadn’t been stopped the whole night which is the same reason why it would have been better had the touchdown been called back when Vince’s knee was down. Was his knee down? Hell yes. Should it have been review? Hell yes. Did it almost cost Texas? Hell yes. Because we rushed on to the field to kick the extra point we missed our 10th extra point of the season. What should have happened is that there should have been a review, the ball is spotted 1st and goal, and we punch it in and take our time on the extra point AND MAKE IT. And for all those that have a copy of the game, watch that extra point in slow motion. It is hard to judge depth perception but that kick looks pretty damn good to me. Back to the point, Carroll goes for it and gets stuffed. Vince marches the offense down the field and runs it in on 4th and 5. What I thought was the funniest part was after the game Vince walked the Gameday crew through that play and claimed he went through his progression and since no one was open he took off. Come on now! That was a run the whole way.

When Vince left New York he said he was going to prove the Heisman voters wrong. I think it is pretty much unanimous he did just that. Reggie Bush is a great player but he was not the best player in the country for two reasons. First off he is a change of pace player. He gets 12 to 15 touches a game and tries to hit homeruns which is exactly why the Houston Texans should not and will not draft him. Second, he lacks Vince’s intangibles and he is a hot head. I got so excited watching the USC-Fresno State game because it was watching that game that I found out Reggie loses his composure and he is not a leader. Don’t let him fool you, he says all the right things off the field but when you put his feet to the fire his actions speak for themselves. In that Fresno State game he got pushed out of bounces and he took a swing that earned him a 15 yard personal foul. After he took some big shots he shot up and got in guys faces. You could tell they were getting under his skin. We have some rough and tumble trash talking guys on our defense and I knew they were watching that and knew they could get in his head. They did too. Bush took a swing at Larry Dibbles on the USC sideline but missed and I still am in utter shock that nothing was called. That was stupid for the obvious reason that you cost your team with a penalty but also for the reason that you are 6’0” 200lbs Reggie Bush and you are trying to pick a fight with a 6’2” 285lbs Larry Dibbles who is a dreadlocked street thug. Vince is the polar opposite. Nobody is going to get in his head. If anything he gets in your head. He makes you think “Geeez we can’t catch this guy and even if we could how are we going to get him down”. He stays calm in the clutch. When its 4th and 18 and you are on the road in Lawrence, KS with your BCS hopes on the line he calmly runs for 19 yards. When it’s late in the 4th quarter and the Buckeye crowd of 100,000+ is going nuts he calmly lofts it into the corner of the end zone for a TD. When its 4th and 5 with under a minute to play in the National Championship and you need a TD he finds a way. 10 years from now we will look back and see that Bush went on to have the 3rd best pro career of his teammates. That’s only if Dwayne Jarrett doesn’t make Bush the 4th.

There is something different about Vince Young. In almost every circumstance I can think of I get annoyed when too much focus is put on one player, ESPECIALLY in football. To me football is the ultimate team sport. But for some reason when I hear people talk about Vince Young as if he were Texas Football it doesn’t annoy me. I can’t explain why. I also am an avid opponent of players leaving early. I was mad when Maurice Clarett challenged the NFL rule and I was against TJ Ford’s decision to go to the NBA. But again for some reason I can’t piece together an argument for why Vince shouldn’t go pro. He is the Michael Jordan of college football. Mike led his Tar Heels to a National Championship and then left early to go to the pros. He was drafted 3rd overall and had a knack for producing in the clutch. Sound familiar? What is weird to me is that Mack wasn’t there. Everyone makes a big deal about Mack’s history of player’s staying in school. Why would Vince make the announcement before Mack got back in town? What was the rush? Did he really sit down and talk to Mack or did he just inform him of his decision? What’s the real story? If I were to guess I’d say Vince’s uncles who did the NFL research heard some good things. Vince talked to Steve McNair, a good family friend, and Steve advised him to contact his agent. The agent was all about Vince coming out, why wouldn’t he be? Vince promises his mom he will finish his degree and then Vince makes the call to Mack telling him good luck with the 1 scholarship quarterback that wasn’t afraid to sign with Texas since Vince has been here.

Also, a big screw you to all those fans and in the media who have hated on Mack. I’ve been on board with Mack from the get go and he did it his way. Four or five years ago I saw an article in Dave Campbell's Texas Football comparing Mack to Tom Osbourne and Bobby Bowden. Those two coaches were kings of Nebraska and Florida State respectively and each built solid programs that eventually won national championships. The idea was they built programs that were contenders for the national championship year in and year out and eventually the chips fall your way. Those two coaches took 20+ years to make the system work. Mack Brown took 8. But it might as well have been 80 because of how aggrivated people would get with him with every season that fell short of a BCS National Championship.

If you are in the business of three peating you better pray that Texas isn’t on the schedule. The last two teams to try it, USC in 2005 and Nebraska in 1996, had their hopes shattered by Texas. And by some logic presented to me by my dad next year we are going for history in becoming the first team to win three in a row. According to USC and USCPN a one-loss season capped by a Rose Bowl win over Michigan followed by a BCS Championship followed by another BCS Championship constitutes 3 consecutive national championships. The way I see it, we have done the first two, just one more to go.

The weeks before the game ESPN had a poll comparing USC to the greatest teams in college football history. mockingly had a thread comparing USC to the greatest militaries in history. Well Fox Sports in conjunction with College Football News put together a computer program taking into account 12 factors and ranked the top 70 teams of all time. Number one on that list… the 2005 Texas Longhorns. My initial reaction was this was just a knee jerk reaction and people are basking in the moment. But then I started thinking about it, well someone has to be #1 and why not this Texas team. Their average margin of victory was nearly 5 TDs (33.8 pts). They scored more points than any team in history. The broke a 5 year dry spell against their border rival. They beat 3 Top Ten teams. They won at the ‘Shoe and essentially at USC. And they capped it all by winning what is quite probably the great college football game ever. So why the hell not? Light the Tower Orange 2005 Texas Longhorns Greatest Team Ever!



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