Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Last time the Texas Longhorns won the national championship…

6 Comments

For the first time in a number of years, there seems to be a real sense of optimism surrounding the Texas Longhorns football program heading into the 2019 season. An appearance in the Big 12 championship game and a victory over the Georgia Bulldogs in the Sugar Bowl has been the fuel for the suggestion, as quarterback Sam Ehlinger proclaimed in New Orleans, that Texas is back. For the Longhorns, that means Texas fans are gearing up to legitimately think about celebrating a long-awaited national championship once again.

The last national championship celebrated in Austin came at the end of the 2005 season with one of the most memorable endings in Rose Bowl history. After being the No. 2 team in the AP poll all season long behind only the Trojans, Texas quarterback Vince Young turned in one of the best performances you could ask for under the pressure of the national championship spotlight. Young completed 30 of 40 pass attempts for 267 yards and rushed for 200 yards and three touchdowns, none more visually memorable as his third, which proved to be the title-winning score to end program’s national title drought that spanned back to the 1970 season (although Texas faithful will argue their case for the 1977 and 1981 titles).

To put things in some perspective, let’s take a stroll down memory lane to see what was going on in 2005, the last time Texas had a national championship season.

Last National Title Season: 2005 (13 years and counting)

Who was President?

That would be none other than George W. Bush. Bush had just been sworn in for his second term in office following a victory in the 2004 election against John Kerry.

Also in 2005, current President Donald J. Trump married his third wife, Melania Knauss.

What was on TV?

Just a couple of weeks after Texas celebrated their national championship victory, “American Idol” was entering its fifth season as the nation’s top-rated television program. This was the season that would eventually lead to Carrie Underwood, a native of Oklahoma, to be named the winner of the singing competition. You may have heard of her. She’s the woman who would go on to sing the theme song for Sunday Night Football on NBC later on in her musical career.

If you were watching NBC, then odds are pretty decent you were watching “Deal or No Deal,” hosted by none other than Howie Mandel.

What movies were hot?

The final chapter in the Star Wars prequel, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith had come out earlier in the spring and was probably making its way to DVD by the time Texas started their championship season. But the final movie directed by George Lucas in his Star Wars saga would not be the top movie at the box office in 2005. That honor belonged to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth installment in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which came out in November of 2005. It took a wizard to take down a Jedi in 2005.

Still in an age before Marvel movies took over the superhero genre and the box office ticket sales, the first installment in Christopher Nolan‘s Batman trilogy hit theaters as well with Batman Begins. Amazingly, the remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory starring Johnny Depp actually beat Batman at the box office. In hindsight, what were we thinking? Another superhero movie released in 2005 was Fantastic Four, starring Chris Evans, who would later go on to play a much better role in a much better franchise as Captain America.

Also released in 2005? The Adam Sandler-led remake of The Longest Yard. Burt Reynolds made an appearance in the movie as well, of course.

As for the Oscars, Brokeback Mountain Best Film while Crash took Best Original Screenplay.

Who was on the cover of NCAA Football?

NCAA Football 06NCAA Football 06 was released by EA Sports on July 12, 2005 for the Sony PlayStation 2 and the Microsoft Xbox. Sorry Nintendo Gamecube fans. You were left out of the game this time. This year’s edition of the game introduced the “Race for the Heisman ” mode, which would become a fun feature of the game in some capacity.

Michigan’s Desmond Howard was featured on the cover of the game, striking his signature pose for the cover. This marked the first time in the franchise’s history a player who didn’t play the previous season and had gone on to the NFL appeared on the cover of the game.

What else happened in 2005?

The Chicago White Sox won the 2005 World Series, sweeping the Houston Astros. The White Sox snapped their own championship drought in doing so with their first World Series title since 1917. The year before, in 2004, the Boston Red Sox had snapped their World Series drought.

The San Antonio Spurs won their third NBA championship in seven seasons. North Carolina won their first men’s college basketball national championship under Roy Williams.

Lance Armstrong won his seventh consecutive Tour de France. That wouldn’t come into play down the line, right?

Tiger Woods won his fourth Masters title in 2005. He also won at the British Open.

The NHL had the 2004-2005 season canceled over a labor dispute, so there was no Stanley Cup winner in 2005, although the Carolina Hurricanes would top the Edmonton Oilers in the 2005-2006 season. Cam Ward was the playoff MVP.

The Pittsburgh Steelers would be Super Bowl champions shortly after the Texas national championship run. Ben Roethlisberger and Jerome Bettis topped the Seattle Seahawks years before former UCLA head coach Jim Mora and former USC head coach Pete Carroll would take a run at coaching the NFC West franchise.

Nick Saban was in his first NFL season with the Miami Dolphins. He’d be coming back to the SEC soon enough. At Clemson, Dabo Swinney was a wide receivers coach in his third year on the job. He would be named interim head coach of the Tigers three years later.

Current Texas head coach Tom Herman was in his first season as an offensive coordinator and quarterback coach for Texas State.

Mack Brown today

GLENDALE, AZ – JANUARY 05: Head coach Mack Brown of the Texas Longhorns celebrates after defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Game on January 5, 2009 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Longhorns defeated the Buckeyes 24-21 (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

The head coach of the last national championship for Texas, Mack Brown, is getting back in the coaching game this season. Brown was essentially forced out of his position as head coach at Texas at the end of the 2013 season, amid some possible expectations Texas boosters would be able to lure Nick Saban away from Alabama. Instead, Texas got Charlie Strong from Louisville. Brown went to work for ABC and ESPN as a studio analyst with some work in the booth to go with it, but after five years on TV, Brown is returning to another one of his previous stops to resume his coaching career. Brown is now the head coach at North Carolina, the school that employed him before Texas hired him away from Chapel Hill prior to the 1998 season.

Former Bengals offensive coordinator reportedly joining Florida support staff

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Ken Zampese is joining Florida’s staff as an analyst, according to Sports Illustrated‘s Andy Benoit.

Zampese spent the 2016-17 seasons as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator after serving 13 seasons as Marvin Lewis‘s quarterbacks coach. Cincinnati went 13-18-1 in Zampese’s two seasons running the offense, which is why he spent 2018 as the Cleveland Browns’ quarterbacks coach and the first part of 2019 as the offensive coordinator for the AAF’s Atlanta Legends.

He is the son of former Chargers, Rams, Cowboys and Patriots offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese.

It is not immediately known what the younger Zampese’s role will be with the Gators, but his experience indicates he’ll work with Dan Mullen and coordinators John Hevesy and Billy Gonzales to develop Florida’s offensive plan and help Brian Johnson tutor the quarterbacks, or perhaps use his coordinator experience to self-scout Florida’s offense and scout Florida’s future opponents.

Arizona launched hostile workplace probe following sexual harassment claims against Wildcat football players

Getty Images
2 Comments

Arizona launched a hostile workplace investigation into its football program following multiple claims of sexual assault and sexual harassment made by multiple female equipment managers against multiple former Wildcat football players, the program confirmed to the Tucson Daily Star.

Lawyers representing the university did not say when the probe took place, but did say it was sparked by two complaints made by female equipment mangers. From the paper:

In 2014, two UA students who worked as equipment managers separately reported incidents involving nonconsensual sex with football players. In August of that year, police were told that a 21-year-old woman working for the athletic department had sex at least twice with three UA football players while the she was heavily intoxicated. One of the players recorded at least one of the encounters and showed it to other students, the report said.

The woman told police that she lost her job after the recording was released, according to the report.

….

While investigating the woman’s claim, UA’s Title IX office approached former manager Jacquelyn Hinek, who had quit her job months before, citing pervasive sexual harassment. After speaking to UA investigators, Hinek told Tucson police that she had been sexually assaulted in April 2013 by several men associated with the football team while at an off-campus party. She said the incident was recorded on a cell phone and later shown to other students. 

“The Office of Institutional Equity conducted a thorough review of the football equipment manager program and there were no findings of sex discrimination as a result of that investigation,” UA spokesman Chris Sigurdson told the paper via email.

The probe was one of three major investigations into the football program.

Arizona is currently being sued for Title IX violations by an alleged victim of former Wildcats running back Orlando Bradford, whom the victim says hit, choked and imprisoned her over a 2-day period in September 2016. Bradford is currently serving a 5-year prison sentence, but the Title IX suit seeks to depose a number of key figures within the football program, including former head coach Rich Rodriguez, who himself was the subject of a hostile workplace investigation in 2017. Allegations of sexual harassment made by his former assistant led to his dismissal last January. Rodriguez has denied any sexual harassment claims, arguing instead they were an extortion attempt against him.

In total, Arizona said it investigated 27 athletes or athletic department employees for sexual harassment, sexual assault or domestic violence from 2012 through ’17 (the period coinciding with Rodriguez’s hiring and firing), eight of them involving the football program.

UConn reportedly looking to keep football program in FBS, not FCS

Getty Images
3 Comments

All the reporting that came out since the bombshell reports saying Connecticut is looking to leave the American Athletic Conference to rejoin the non-football Big East have confirmed that, yes, this is really happening, likely in time for the 2020-21 athletic year. The reporting has also said that UConn’s soon-to-be-homeless football program will not drop down to FCS, but instead join a different conference or try to make it as an FBS independent.

On Saturday, Stadium’s Brett McMurphy tweeted that UConn has determined it will not return to FCS, where the program competed for most of its history before joining the then-power conference Big East in 2004.

On Sunday morning, NCAA.com’s Andy Katz followed with a note saying it looked like the Huskies will try to make a go of it as an independent, writing that UConn will attempt to schedule neighbors like UMass (a fellow independent), Boston College, Syracuse and Rutgers while honoring existing contracts for home-and-homes with Duke, Illinois, NC State and others.

For a check in with someone who might actually know something, let’s see what Huskies head coach Randy Edsall has to say.

Oh, well.

Either way, it sounds like the train is moving and we could hear something official sooner rather than later.

Steve Spurrier getting into the restaurant business

Getty Images
7 Comments

Steve Spurrier hasn’t coached a college football team since 2015, but that doesn’t mean the Head Ball Coach has retired.

The former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback and national championship head coach returned to his alma mater to serve as a brand ambassador in 2016, he’s appeared in commercials, and he won a self-proclaimed championship as head coach of the Orlando Apollos of the short-lived Alliance of American Football.

Now, he’s getting into the restaurant business.

On Friday, it was reported the 74-year-old Spurrier will announce that he’s seeking a partner to “operate his new American casual dining concept.”

Details are scarce at this point–that’s probably the point of the press conference–but I’m imagining Margaritaville with footballs. We’ll find out on Monday.