For once, the national championship lived up to the
hype. Considering the month of nonstop coverage, the remarkable game
quenched football fans’ appetites. The three-hour plus spectacle was a
beacon for college football and the nation that tuned in.
The 41-38 Texas
win had superstar characters, subplots, twists and a season full of
drama squeezed into a single game. Coaches tried to outwit each other
and individuals put on memorable performances. And even though Texas
ended up on top, college football was the true winner.
The game was pure. No BCS controversy clouded the
game with thoughts of co-national champions. And every viewer
understood that the nation’s two best teams decided the championship on
the field. There were no Terrell Owens tirades or players griping about
how grossly they’re underpaid.
A superior brand of football captured the nation
with players only garnering per diem meal contracts. The NFL is great,
but college’s allure of amateurism makes it the nation’s best sport.
The passion from the players, coaches and fans put the sport on a
pedestal unmatched by any professional game.
And what about the players? Two Heisman trophy
winners on the USC sideline couldn’t match a poised Vince Young. Young
was rumored to be visibly upset, which surprised media types, on his
snub of the Heisman trophy three weeks ago. The junior quarterback
voiced his displeasure when he scored his third rushing touchdown on a 4th
and 5 play with 19 seconds left.
Even USC’s stars made memorable plays. Matt Leinart
finished with 365 yards and four points shy of immortality in college
football. Reggie Bush’s didn’t crack 100 yards on the ground, but still
turned the corner with ease on his lone touchdown run. LenDale White
smashed through defenders and the USC record books with three
And the biggest sigh of relief came from the Texas
head coach. Mack Brown avoided the “can’t win the big one” questions
that were sure to pester him following a loss. Instead, he reversed his
legacy and cemented his lore in the University
of Texas history.
On the other sideline, where does Pete Carroll go to
pick up the pieces? The ex-NFL head coach likely will stay in college
having recently signed a seven-year extension at USC. He loses his
starting quarterback and probably two star running backs. Instead of
finishing on a pedestal with a hint of invincibility, Carroll is now in
a neck-and-neck race with the other elite programs.
Having a severe case of the east coast bias, I rarely
ever get to watch USC play live. And with the hour that I went to bed,
I highly doubt that I’ll get the chance very often. Even so, I figured
I’d take a page out of Mel Kiper, Jr.’s book and do some NFL draft
According to every report, Young was planning to
stay at Texas for his
senior season. But after the Rose Bowl, the junior will be forced out.
Even so, remember that very few players leave the Texas
program early. Derrick Williams, Roy Williams and Ricky Williams all
stayed despite guarantees about their draft status.
Despite the tantalizing millions of dollars on
Young’s horizon, he needs another year of college. Athleticism isn’t
the problem nor is it his leadership. Young isn’t a polished passer,
has an unnatural delivery, has little arm strength and doesn’t
understand defenses enough for the next level. If he leaves, it’s going
to take years for him to develop into a solid NFL quarterback.
No doubt that Matt Leinart will live in collegiate
infamy. But Leinart now leaves his bubble of being sprinkled with
superior athletes. As Alex Smith can attest, a lowly NFL franchise is
vastly different. Leinart is very cerebral, has leadership skills and
the intangibles needed for the quarterback position. But pure talent,
Leinart is fragile and lacks arm strength and mobility. Imagine the
2004 Heisman winner behind the Houston
Texas offensive line. He
wouldn’t last very long.
Reggie Bush and LenDale White will both be great NFL
running backs. Bush reminds me of a younger Marshall Faulk. White has
great potential, but has never been an every down back. Franchises view
bruisers such as White as a hot commodity because they can complement a
speedier scat back.
USC wide out Dwayne Jarrett is only a sophomore. At
6’5”, scouts are already drooling over him. He has the muscle to
overpower smaller corners combined with the height to out jump them on
a fade. If he continues to progress, he could be an NFL Hall of Fame
safety Michael Huff could end up being one of the best players from
Wednesday’s game. At the safety slot, Huff has a nose for the ball. He
isn’t a Roy Williams type hitter, but can be a ball hawk like current
NFL safeties Sean Taylor or Ed Reed.