For today, the rules of hyperbole are suspended. It's impossible to to go too far when describing what we witnessed last night.
First, name the college football game that surpasses last night's Rose Bowl. One where there was more anticipation leading up to it. One where there was more at stake. One where there were more big plays. One where there were more standout individual performances. Got anything? I don't. Definitive statement: Greatest college football game ever.
Next, name the individual performance in a college football game that surpasses Vince Young's from last night. Again, one where there was more at stake. One where the player made more absolutely clutch plays. One where the player put an entire team on his back and willed them to victory against the heavy favorite. Got anything? I don't. Definitive statement: Greatest individual performance ever.
Holy cow, man. Where to start?
I don't necessarily take back everything I've said about Mack Brown over the years or even this season. I still don't think he's Bear Bryant or Darrell Royal. He may prove to be that or more over time, but he's got a ways to go in my book. However, I do give him full credit for recognizing what he's got in Vince and letting him do his thing. As he said in an interview last night, "Sometime when you do less, you get more." Don't underestimate what it took for him to let Vince have some rope. Brown gets full marks for making the realization and doing something about it. Wanna bet that coaches of major programs all over the country are out today, buying iPods and downloading 50 Cent?
The Texas offense and defense both proved that Vince is not the whole team. Sure, they made mistakes. But they also made BIG, GIANT, HUGE plays when they had to. I don't know how many of these guys are going to the pros, but what a performance by so many of them. Limas Sweed, Ramonce Taylor, Michael Huff, David Thomas all made things happen in the biggest game of their lives.
The Trojans proved to be nearly as good as advertised. Leinart showed quite a bit, and was as good as you'll ever see in the third quarter. Pro scouts are drooling over this guy and rightly so. He has a long, successful NFL career ahead of him.
Reggie Bush also showed why he's Mr. Highlight Reel. However, for everything he did, I think you have to consider his game disappointing. He never really seemed to recover from that ill-advised pitch-while-being-tackled early on. Bush's semi-sleepwalking may have been the difference.
LenDale White, on the other hand, proved quite a bit on the national stage last night, and probably improved his draft position (if he comes out) significantly. It will be interesting to see if he can play at the NFL level. I don't think he's fast enough, and his toughness will be diluted a bit by the superior talent at the next level. Still, what a great game for him.
The USC offense has so many weapons that it's kind of embarrassing.They came so close to going down as one of the greatest college team of all time. As it is, they are still something special. Which makes the Texas victory all the more sweet.
And, finally, Vince. He may be the greatest athlete I have ever had the privilege of watching perform in real time. He made everything look so friggin easy last night. He never looked like he was running hard, but he consistently outran the whole USC defense. He never looked like he was having trouble finding receivers (and, to be honest, his receivers were often wide open), but he made some great throws. He never looked flustered or frustrated. Whenever I hear the term "special athlete", I think of Dana Carvey's "Church Lady" bit, but I don't know how else to describe Vince.
Does Vince come back for his senior year? As much as I'd like to see it, I don't know why he would. Other than the Heisman (more about that in a moment), what's left for him to prove? As for the Heisman, my take is this: He completely outplayed the last two Heisman winners last night, if the voting were re-held today, he'd win in a landslide (an aside: Why isn't the voting done after the biggest games of the year? That seems backwards to me). If he were to come back next year, he'd be the overwhelming favorite to win it, and all of the pressure would be on him. It would be a no-win situation for him - if he got the award, it would be because he was supposed to, if he didn't, he'd be called all sorts of nasty names in the media. Why bother?
Can Vince play in the NFL? I don't know. Physically, there's NO DOUBT he can. He's a bigger, faster, stronger Michael Vick. If Vick is a star in the league (and, for whatever reason, he is), then Vince is a SUPER-star. However, I don't know if Vince can do well in structured NFL offense. It really seems to me that he began to flourish when Mack Brown threw out the playbook and instituted the "zone-read". If he comes out, he'll go in the top 3, and we'll get to find out if he can hack it. I wouldn't bet against him.
I loved this game. I really think this is one that we'll look back on for the next 30 years, and remember it as the best championship game in history. I anticipated this game for weeks (hell, since the Ohio State game), and it lived up to my expectations. Even Robynne, who is no sports fan, got into this one, and was talking about it this morning. I'm just glad I got to see it, and in spectacular HD to boot.
I'm going to enjoy this, and all Texas fans should. Whatever happens next season, it won't be as much fun as this year has been.