If it's OK with Mack Brown, it's OK with Jamaal Charles: Shock the nation with another national championship.
If you consider shock to be men running around in short pants at the four-day, all-day NCAA outdoor track championships then, yes, it is a big deal.
|Jamaal Charles hopes to be part of two title teams in one school year. (Getty Images)|
Still, a title is a title for Texas' go-to tailback-in-waiting. Charles came to Austin as a big-time tailback last year with the idea that he wanted to run track, too. Let's just say his sprint aspirations have done more than keep him in shape for football.
Led by Charles and seniors Brian Robison, the Longhorns are trying to become only the second school since the AP football poll debuted in 1936 -- and the first in 39 years -- to win football and track national championships in the same academic year.
"I have a blessing in track, too," said Charles, the Big 12's reigning 100-meter champion. "Why not run track until I can't run no more?"
Running the third leg for the winning 400-meter relay team Saturday, Charles helped Texas finish first in the NCAA Midwest Regional and clinch an automatic team berth in the NCAAs. Charles will also run the 100 and 200 in the NCAA outdoor track championships that began Wednesday in Sacramento, Calif. The meet ends Saturday.
Robison, a defensive end, broke a 24-year-old school record in the shot put.
"Me and Brian make the team more fun," Charles told the Dallas Morning News. "We try to bring the football locker room to the track."
That actually would make track more fun, but we're still impressed. USC is the only school to accomplish the track-football double (1962 and 1967) in the wire service era. That 1967 team featured O.J. Simpson and was part of a long, glorious track-football legacy at Troy.
"He ran track?" Charles said of O.J.
Yes. O.J. was quite good at running -- on and off the field.
USC's legacy hasn't been carried on in recent years. Reggie Bush, a nationally ranked high school sprinter, decided not to double up when he arrived at USC in 2003.
So it's up to Texas -- No. 3 in track (men) and No. 1 in football (bigger men).
Texas traditionally has a strong track program but hadn't won a football title since 1970. You might recall that streak ended five months ago in Pasadena.
Why, then, would Brown allow his stud tailback to risk his hamstrings at the elite track level? When Charles was being recruited out of Port Arthur, Texas, the real question was, "Why not?"
"I asked Coach Brown if I could do both," Charles said. "He said, 'Yeah, why not? As long as he keeps his grades up, no problem. If his grades don't stay up that's it, because what got him here is football.'"
As an honorable mention freshman All-American last fall, Charles ran for 878 yards while sharing duties with Selvin Young and Ramonce Taylor. Charles, the Big 12's offensive freshman of the year, averaged 7.4 yards per carry (third nationally).
Circumstances put him in line to be the next great Texas tailback. Young will be a senior this year. Taylor was charged with felony possession of marijuana last month.
Together, they ran for 1,852 yards and 31 touchdowns last year.
Charles never got close to a championship of any kind while at Port Arthur Memorial High School. Now he is possibly clearing room on his fingers for his second ring in five months.
"If I wasn't playing football, I'd be running all the events in track," Charles said.
Easy, big fella. Coach Brown on Line 1. Charles won the 100 in the regional in 10.23 seconds but reportedly felt a twinge in his hamstring with about 10 meters to go. After that, he pulled out of the 200.
Fleeing the scene
Chicken Little time? Arizona lost backup quarterback Richard Kovalcheck to Vanderbilt under the new legislation allowing graduate students to transfer immediately.
Some coaches think Proposal No. 2005-54 might wreak havoc. They might be right, but don't ask Vandy coach Bobby Johnson. He is getting an experienced quarterback after losing Jay Cutler; Kovalcheck, who lost his job last year to freshman sensation Willie Tuitama, has 11 career starts.
At first glance, mid-level schools will be hurt most by No. 2005-54 as players scramble for shots at bigger programs.
But don't count out depth charts being ripped apart at BCS conference schools. Backups looking for playing time could become hot items. Kovalcheck looked at Vandy to pursue graduate studies in health care, something Arizona didn't offer.
Oh, and the quarterback job is wide open, too.
Sanchez resumes quest for starting job
USC suddenly looks set for another championship run.
Not to trivialize the sexual assault accusation against Mark Sanchez, but the fact that the freshman quarterback is back is huge. Prosecutors couldn't find enough evidence to charge Sanchez, who is projected as the next great one in Troy.
No. 1 quarterback John David Booty is recovering from back surgery, but Sanchez's time will come soon. Tailback is solidified with Chauncey Washington becoming eligible.
Word is that the investigation into Dwayne Jarrett's rental arrangement with Matt Leinart's father won't amount to much.
Need a diploma? Insert credit card
An NCAA subcommittee was pursuing so-called diploma mills when the New York Times blew the issue wide open, beginning in December with a series of stories on bogus schools offering high school degree programs.
That prompted Myles Brand to fast-track the issue. A preliminary list of 15 banned schools was sent out this week by the NCAA.
Reaction: The NCAA's trust of high schools has fluctuated over the years. For decades the NCAA essentially didn't trust high schools' objectivity when it came to initial eligibility.
It was only 20 years ago that the NCAA has been using standardized testing. But that philosophy came under fire as being racially biased.
Now it's much easier to get into school -- see the liberal sliding scale -- but harder to stay eligible.
The NCAA Clearinghouse -- established to catch bogus transcripts -- has done a spotty job. Abuses have become so prevalent that SEC commissioner Mike Slive last week took the bold step of becoming the final authority.
SEC presidents voted to allow Slive the authority to declare ineligible players with questionable academic credentials.
Relax the standards, there are going to be abuses. Toughen them and someone is going to scream. Already Montgomery, Ala., attorney Don Jackson -- a veteran of several NCAA investigation cases -- has hinted that he will sue the association for overstepping its boundaries.