PASADENA, Calif. -- The ultimate insult is calling Vince Young a one-man team.
|Vince Young carries Texas to its first national title in 35 years. (Getty Images)|
Vince Young is a one-man program.
What you saw Wednesday night was the best player in University of Texas history. That's the state university of the state that thinks it invented the game.
Maybe it did, but on Wednesday Vince Young re-invented it.
Best ever at Texas means something when Young's competition are guys named Layne, Campbell and Williams -- both Ricky and Roy.
"You know what Darrell Royal said?" asked Texas coach Mack Brown. "Someone asked him if Vince is the best quarterback at Texas. He said, 'I'd say yes but I only go back 50 years.'"
It's more than that. USC was the favorite in this game, if no other reason it had two superstars (Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush) to Texas' one.
Young, though, was both players rolled into one. The nation's pass efficiency leader started the game completing his first nine passes and missed only 10 of 40 throws.
|2005||Rose||Texas 41, USC 38|
|2004||Orange||USC 55, Oklahoma 19|
|2003||Sugar||LSU 21, Oklahoma 14|
|2002||Fiesta||Ohio St. 31, Miami (Fla.) 24|
|2001||Rose||Miami (Fla.) 37, Nebraska 14|
|2000||Orange||Oklahoma 13, Florida St. 2|
|1999||Sugar||Florida St. 46, Va. Tech 29|
|1998||Fiesta||Tennessee 23, Florida St. 16|
He ran for 200 yards, becoming the first player in history to pass for 2,500 yards and rush for at least 1,000 in the same season.
Broadcaster Keith Jackson predicated earlier this week that Texas' zone read offense would become a national craze if the Longhorns won. Pity, he added, because only Texas had Young to run it.
"Without question that was the best (performance) by one guy (I've seen)," USC coach Pete Carroll said.
USC led 38-26 with 6:42 left. It had rallied from its fifth halftime deficit of the season. Everything was cooking. Home field. History awaited in the form of an unprecedented third consecutive national championship.
Then USC led 38-33 with 4:03 after a 14-yard scoring run by Young. Sweat was starting to form around the foundation of Trojan Nation.
Then Carroll had a decision to make leading 38-33 with two minutes and change left: Punt the ball on fourth down from the Texas' 45 or try to pick up two yards and attempt to run out the clock.
Carroll went for it. He couldn't be blamed. A punt would have given Young a longer field but -- big point here -- it would have given him the ball. When LenDale White's run gained only a yard, you could see the Texas sideline get excited and shoulders droop across the way on USC's bench.
"You just gotta go (for it)," Leinart said. "The whole game we felt like we could run it. We were inches short. We did everything we could."
Right then it was over. Everything wasn't enough. Texas' version of Vin-sanity was going to get another chance.
"He's a 240-pound guy standing neck and neck with me," USC 6-foot-3, 240-pound defensive end Frostee Rucker said. "A quarterback that is versatile like Vince ... We were brining three linemen, then bringing two more DBs and a linebacker. We thought we'd be able to stop him."
Fat chance for a phat player. It was death by slow torture for USC. The game-winning 56-yard march started with 129 seconds left. It took 11 plays. It was Texas' version of "The Drive."
Carroll, also USC's defensive coordinator, mixed up blitzes the entire final drive. Most of the time it was corners. Even if they got close, they couldn't rattle Young.
On fourth-and-5 from the USC 8, here they came again. Young went through 1, 2, 3 progressions. The right side of the field cleared out. Like a guard taking over late in basketball game, Young slaw a sliver of end zone and darted for the basket, er, end zone.
The best player in Texas history confirmed his status with 19 seconds left. He caught the right corner of that end zone on his third touchdown run. Then he disappeared into a mass of sideline humanity, looking for a second like he had run up the tunnel right into the NFL.
But for an encore, Young applied the cherry to Texas' first title in 35 years with a two-point conversion run.
"Elway did his thing," Young said calmly. "I did my thing."
When it was over, this year's Heisman Trophy winner went to the 'Horns locker room to congratulate the Rose Bowl's best player. Suddenly, it wasn't about Young being ticked about not getting the Heisman. It was about respect.
"At the next level," Young said, Bush, "he's going to be great.
"I wasn't motivated by (not winning the Heisman). We didn't get no respect from the media. It wasn't like somebody gave us 12-0. We worked for it.
"I think we outplayed not just Reggie (Bush) but the whole team."
In the interview room, the nation's best recruiter talked about sealing the deal with school's (nation's?) best player. Brown first saw Young playing basketball as a high schooler and knew right then the kid could make plays in football.
It would be nice for Brown and Texas to get Young back for his senior season. But that seems less and less likely judging from the quarterback's postgame comments.
You want one final reason V.Y. is the best player in Texas history? He's too good for the school now. Young will become the first junior Brown has lost to the NFL. Call it 32-skidoo. That's the amount of games Young started in his brief career, winning 30.
"All I know is me and my parents need to sit down and make the best decision," Young said.
That's a far cry from a month ago when the quarterback was saying he was definitely coming back. What would you do if you had just won a second consecutive Rose Bowl and hearts and minds of a state?
"He's one of the great players to play college football," Brown said. "If he comes back next year, which we think he will, he'll have a great shot to win the Heisman. I thought he was the best player on any team this year."
Savor it, Mack, it might have been Young's last at Texas.