Vince Young

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The last time the Texas Longhorns won the national championship…

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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.

Texas fires Longhorn legend Vince Young from developmental role

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Vince Young, whose claim to glory was leading the Texas Longhorns to their last national championship, has been fired by the Texas Longhorns. According to a report from the Associated Press, Young has been removed from his part-time position as a developmental officer for what is described as poor performance.

Young was terminated from his post effective March 1, a month after a drunken driving arrest, and as a result of not showing up for work and poor communication with officials within the program.

From the AP report;

Young’s March 1 firing letter says he was dismissed “for not demonstrating significant and sustained improvement in the performance of (his) job responsibilities and failing to maintain standards of conduct suitable and acceptable to the university.” He has been given job warnings dating back to 2017.

Young led Texas to its only BCS championship in the 2005 season, topping USC in one of the most memorable finishes in Rose Bowl history. The Maxwell Award, Manning Award, and Davey O’Brien Award winner for the 2005 season was named a consensus All-American and later had his No. 10 uniform retired by the Longhorns. Coming home to be a part of the Texas program should have led to a much better experience for Young, but that clearly never materialized after his professional career in the NFL drew to a close.

But if young wasn’t showing up to work and being the role model that college football players within the Texas program need for guidance, then it doesn’t matter what Young did in his playing days in Austin. Tom Herman and Texas don’t need negative influences and people who don’t respect the job around to be a bad role model.

Here’s hoping Young straightens some things out moving forward. He’ll still always be a Longhorn at heart, but it doesn’t sound as though he was ready for the responsibility his role entailed.

Gary Barnett returns to Colorado for radio gig

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The only coach to win a Big 12 title at Colorado is back in Boulder. Gary Barnett, a former assistant coach on Colorado’s national championship team and three-time Big Eight championship teams and the head coach of the Buffs for a Big 12 title run, has joined the Colorado radio team for the 2015 season. The school and KOA announced Barnett as an addition to the broadcast team in a limited capacity for 2015, with the plan of making him the full-time analyst in 2016 to take over for the retiring Larry Zimmer.

“I think it’s great timing for me and hopefully for the university,” Barnett said in a released statement.  “Going through the new facilities (at CU) just really made me want to be a part of this. I’ve enjoyed traveling around the country for the last 10 years, but I gave this a lot of thought and I am looking forward to it. I also appreciate Larry being in favor of it, having the support of the broadcasting icon that he is. I think we’ll have a lot of fun.”

Barnett will be place din the radio booth for two games this season (at UCLA and home vs USC). Barnett will continue working as a commentator for Sports USA Radio Network this fall while getting familiar with the new radio gig at Colorado. If nothing else, it will be good for Colorado to welcome back Barnett in good graces. In 2005, Colorado removed Barnett as head coach of the program with a recruiting scandal brewing under his watch. The school pushed Barnett out the door with a $3 millions settlement after Colorado was destroyed in the Big 12 championship game by Vince Young and the eventual BCS national champions from Texas. It was quite a change of philosophy from Colorado, which had been rumored to be interested in extending Barnett’s contract up until about a month before his dismissal between the Big 12 championship game and bowl season.

SEC leads all conferences with Madden NFL video game covers

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There may no longer be an NCAA Football video game produced by EA Sports, but that does not mean the SEC cannot find one more thing to brag about. With wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants, and previously of LSU, being named the cover athlete for Madden NFL 16, the annual NFL video game published by EA Sports, the SEC now has four all-time cover athletes on the most popular sports video game in the country. No other active conference has more than two Madden cover athletes.

LSU’s Beckham Jr. is the first Tigers player to appear on the cover of Madden. He joins Georgia’s Garrison Hearst (Madden NFL 99, the first cover athlete in the franchise’s history), Alabama’s Shaun Alexander (Madden NFL 07) and Peyton Hillis of Arkansas (Madden NFL 12). The SEC actually ties the old Big East for most all-time cover athletes. The Big East is the only conference to have a former Big East player appear on the cover in three successive seasons with Virginia Tech’s Michael Vick (Madden NFL 2004), Miami’s Ray Lewis (Madden NFL 2005) and Syracuse’s Donovan McNabb (Madden NFL 06). The Big East’s last representative on the cover was former Pittsburgh wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (Madden NFL 10).

The ACC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 all have had two cover athletes each. Joining the Big East in the defunct conference category of Madden cover athletes are the Big 8 and WAC, each with one cover athlete. Barry Sanders (Madden NFL 25; he technically appeared on the cover of Madden NFL 2000 too, but that was as a background image behind John Madden) of Oklahoma State played in the Big 8 and Marshall Faulk (Madden NFL 2003) played at San Diego State when the Aztecs were in the WAC.

One more note for those with an interest. Two players from independent programs have been featured on the cover of the Madden NFL series, and neither hailed from Notre Dame. UCF’s Daunte Culpepper (Madden NFL 2002) and Southern Mississippi’s Brett Favre (Madden NFL 09) have each graced the cover. At the time these quarterbacks were throwing passes on Saturday afternoons though, both programs were independent programs.

What about Heisman Trophy winners on the cover? There have been three of them on the cover of Madden. In addition to Sanders, Ohio State’s Eddie George (Madden NFL 2001) and Vince Young of Texas (Madden NFL 08) have appeared on the cover of the game.

Madden NFL 99 – Garrison Hearst, Georgia

Madden NFL 2000 – John Madden (Barry Sanders was in the background image, but not specifically featured)

Madden NFL 2001 – Eddie George, Ohio State

Madden NFL 2002 – Daunte Culpepper, UCF

Madden NFL 2003 – Marshall Faulk, San Diego State, WAC

Madden NFL 2004 – Michael Vick, Virginia Tech

Madden NFL 2005 – Ray Lewis, Miami

Madden NFL 06 – Donovan McNabb, Syracuse

Madden NFL 07 – Shaun Alexander, Alabama

Madden NFL 08 – Vince Young, Texas

Madden NFL 09 – Brett Favre, Southern Miss

Madden NFL 10 – Troy Polamalu, USC; Larry Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh

Madden NFL 11 – Drew Brees, Purdue

Madden NFL 12 – Peyton Hillis, Arkansas

Madden NFL 13 – Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech

Madden NFL 25 – Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State; Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma

Madden NFL 15 – Richard Sherman, Stanford

Madden NFL 16 – Odell Beckham Jr., LSU

J.T. Barrett’s high school coach takes jabs at Texas QB situation

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It’s not exactly a state — or national — secret that Texas has been mired in uncertainty and mediocrity at the quarterback position since Vince Young led them to their last national championship in 2005 and Colt McCoy used up his eligibility following the 2009 season.  Conversely, Ohio State has an embarrassment of riches at the position, with three quarterbacks who are of Heisman-caliber.

One of of those three, J.T. Barrett, played his high school football in the state of Texas.  Barrett’s coach in Wichita Falls (Tex.), Marc Bindel, discussed the recruitment of his former player with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and didn’t hold back in criticizing the flagship football program in his state.

“I was, at the time, a big Texas fan,” Bindel said. “I wasn’t really happy with the way (Barrett) got treated. I felt like they mislead him a little bit and they chose to go Tyrone Swoopes and not offer J.T. I don’t know if J.T. would have gone there had he not gotten offered, but Texas, I don’t feel like handled the situation the right way.

“They don’t have a quarterback and Ohio State has three.”

One, ouch. Two, there are a couple of caveats to the criticism.

First, it was Mack Brown and his offensive coaching staff that were in charge of the Longhorns during Barrett’s recruitment leading up to National Signing Day in 2013. It was Brown, not the new regime, that opted for Swoopes (No. 13 dual-threat QB, No. 36 player in the state of Texas) over Barrett (No. 7 dual-threat QB, No. 20 player in the state).

Secondly, Brown’s replacement, Charlie Strong, is looking to change the outlook at the position. While it remains to be seen whether Swoopes is the answer, Strong signed four-star prospect Jerrod Heard (No. 7 dual-threat QB) in his first UT class and has a second four-star commitment, Zach Gentry (No. 3 pro-style QB), for this year’s class.

That said, “they don’t have a quarterback and Ohio State has three” has got to leave a big ol’ Texas-sized mark on the storied program, regardless of the circumstances that played into UT’s present reality.