Disclaimer: This is not a prediction of the outcome of the Rose Bowl game between USC and Texas, merely a look ahead to what a Texas win would meanů
What if Texas beats USC for the national title? Besides the all-night partying that would overtake Austin for days, perhaps weeks, what would a win mean for the program, the coach, the players?
University of Texas:
For those of you who have never had the chance to visit Austin or, for that matter, the state of Texas, let me fill you in on a little thing. They like their football and they love their Longhorns. UT football dominates a state filled with the likes of A&M, Texas Tech and a plethora of pro teams. With the exception of the Cowboys, UT football is king. So imagine that king having so many down years since their last national title in 1970. 35 years of no "We're #1" proclamations. A win over USC and the impact on the University would be immeasurable. The national spotlight, the increase in applicants, the rise in alumni donations to athletics, the merchandise sales, the parties, the 2006 pre-season publicity. All would be on a bigger scale than the victories by LSU, USC and Ohio State in recent years.
This is a guy who has led two teams to Top 5 status, something rarely seen in college football. Upon taking the job 8 seasons ago here is his season-by-season records: 9-3, 9-5, 9-3, 11-2, 11-2, 10-3, 11-1 and 12-0. So, in the last five seasons, Brown has a cumulative record of 55-8. That is impressive. The asterisk is that he hadn't beaten rival Oklahoma in many a year and never delivered a Big 12 title or a national title. So basically, Brown is TBCNTWTNC. But if he beats 'SC, things change. Football people, the media and fans will suddenly look at what he has done (win) rather than what he hasn't done (beat Oklahoma in previous years.) He already is regarded as the best recruiter in the country. With a title ring on his finger - forget it. A loss to USC means critics will jump on him for not being able to win the big game.
They said he couldn't play quarterback. Didn't have the arm, the knowledge, the ability to lead a team to an undefeated season. They were wrong. Young has had an amazing season, one in which he ran and passed his team to come from behind wins. He silenced many along the way, and proved something to NFL scouts, his coaching staff and the Texas faithful. Finishing second in the Heisman voting was disappointing, in his words, but what a way to put that behind him with a national title. If Texas wins, Young becomes the story in college football and will likely be off to the NFL (if he wasn't going already).
As noted previously, Mack Brown is a clutch recruiter, who routinely lands classes ranked in the Top 5 and appears on his way in 2006. If the Longhorns win the national title, the resulting media attention would only make the path easier for Brown and his staff. They not only could keep the prime Texas prospects home, but they could start to invade enemy territory - like stealing a kid from Southern California or Florida or Ohio. High school kids want to play right away, and want to play for winners. A national title will give them even more reason to commit to Texas and keep UT on top for a long time to come.
A Texas win brings USC back down to mere mortal status. It means that anybody could beat them (even if that's not true). It means that USC's undefeated season, with escape-like wins over Notre Dame, Arizona State, etc., was just a good team getting lucky, rather than a championship team winning games. It means that many schools on the outside this year, like Florida, Georgia, Oregon, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Penn State can have their own next year. There are those who love to see the New York Yankees lose, and their voices are loud.
Well people, we know this, nobody knows how to win a meaningful game more than Pete Carroll. In his short five-year career in South Central Los Angeles, he has won just about every game big game that he has approached, including dominating blowouts in the last three bowl games (38-17 vs. Iowa, 28-14 vs. Michigan and 55-19 vs. Oklahoma).
Of course the media (no, I mean the media other than me) has been building up USC as the greatest offensive team in the history of the game and all. Nice moniker. But if the Trojans don't pull this one out, blow that meaning into oblivion. Just ask Nebraska of '83.
Now, what are the other things a USC win will mean? Here you go:
USC will be labeled as - arguably - the best team in history.
Well, it's not as if ESPN hasn't been doing this already since the end of the UCLA game. But now it would be without the hype machine that sickens us all.
Not to state the obvious here, but it would mean the Trojans will win their third straight national title.
Yes LSU fans, the Men of Troy would be voted No. 1 at the end of the season for 2003, 2004 AND 2005. Once and for all, you guys won a national title (not a half title) and so did USC in 2003. If you want to cry about having to split it, blame the horrible system, the BCS and Roy Kramer, not a group of kids that just goes out and wins football games.
All those big time juniors can go ahead and turn pro.
RB Reggie Bush, LB Oscar Lua, O-Tackle Winston Justice, Safety Darnell Bing, etc., What do you have left to play for? If you go out winning 35 straight and getting three title rings, what else is there? How many college rings do you need on your hands? Besides, you don't want to be around when the streak finally does come to an end anyway. Let the blame fall on someone else while you collect your NFL paychecks.
It will validate Pete Carroll as a great coach.
Okay, maybe this is a weak argument, because nobody doubts the quality of this guy's coaching ability, him being 54-9 and all. Talk about taking a downtrodden program to another level.
It will validate Pete Carroll as a great bowl game coach.
The completely open practices. The families, the kids, the relatives and the media all welcomed with open arms to view the bowl practices. Whatever, whoever, It works. Let the other team stay all closed up, roped off and secretive. They'll see that Pete's loosey-goosey style suits SoCal just fine.
It will mean that Mack Brown's "can't win the big one" rap will still have some legs.
I know 'Horn fans don't want to hear it, but it's still true. A completely watered down Big 12 title doesn't count.
It will mean that Texas still hasn't won a national championship since the 60s.
And no, that 1970 title doesn't count, since the 'Horns lost in the Cotton Bowl by two touchdowns to Notre Dame (the UPI poll foolishly ended its polling before the bowl games back in those days, so that's how UT was voted No. 1).
It will mean that more underclassmen will bypass the NFL draft and stay at UT.
Mack Brown has a knack of "re-recruiting" juniors to stay in Austin for their senior year. And if they lose this game, it just gives him more ammo for the "if you stay another year you'll win the national title in 2006" argument. Are you listening Vince Young?