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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Texas Football: On the rise or one hit wonder?

What constitutes a great college football team or coach? USC had a plethora of stars at their disposal and perhaps the most heralded coach in college football today but failed to cash their chips in when it mattered. Texas Tech has set all kinds of offensive records with Mike Leach’s system of ragtag recruits but has not won anything outright since 1955.

So, what exactly is the criteria for the title?

The 1995 Nebraska squad is widely considered the best team in the history of college football. Gurus point to a stout defense, an explosive offense and a legendary coach in Tom Osborne. But, can anyone outside of Lincoln name 5 players from the 1995 roster? All discussions inevitably revert to the play of the great Tommie Frazier.

The Texas Longhorns have a similar tale. After falling 13 points short of the chance to prove their worth in 2004, they bounced back to have an outstanding 2005 season culminating in the confetti of arguably the best college game ever played. But, when the season is dissected, it is always Vince Young who gets sole credit for their success. Never mind the clutch catches of Limas Sweed, the “blink and you’ll miss it” speed of Jamaal Charles or the defensive leadership of Michael Huff. No, Mack Brown went out and stole himself a championship for the Burnt Orange Nation riding on the coattails of the greatest player to ever pass through the Big 12.

The monkey may be off Brown’s back, but the chip is certainly on his shoulder.

Even after an amazing title run, the Longhorns have something to prove to the college football world: They can win without Vince Young. Like Brown, it took Osborne 21 years as a head coach to guide the Huskers to Hallelujah land. Any press on how Osborne couldn’t win the “big ones” has long since been forgotten. Despite having a superstar like Frazier, no one attributes Osborne’s 1994 and 1995 title success to having “lucked out”.

So why are the Eyes of Football upon Texas?

Brown has proven himself. In eight years at Texas, he has eight consecutive 9+ win seasons, guided the Longhorns to three Big 12 Championship appearances, posted an 83-19 overall record, defeated rival Texas A&M in 7 out of 8 tries and restored glory and pride to the Horn faithful with a National Championship title. Before he arrived at Texas, Brown turned a perennial doormat in North Carolina into a legitamate title contender. But, his failure to consistently defeat Bob Stoops' Sooners has outwardly tainted the perception of his ability…however unfairly.

Osborne experienced the same difficulties.

From 1973 to 1989, Osborne posted a 6-11 record against Barry Switzer’s Sooner teams. Switzer won three National Championships while Osborne came up empty. Like Brown, Osborne had to contend with a strong conference foe to reach the top of the mountain. Yet it is Brown who gained the label of “Mr. February” despite a considerbly shorter timeframe to deliver.

This season will begin a new chapter in the era of Texas football. The talent is there. The hunger is there. The fans are behind the team. It’s up to Brown to respond to the challenge.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

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