Silencing All the (S)Mack Talk
They supposedly do things bigger in Texas, so it figured the Longhorns would have, well, a Texas-sized chip on their shoulder in the Rose Bowl.
Texans have been downright ornery because of nationwide criticism of Coach Mack Brown, who lobbied voters in an attempt to affect the bowl championship series selection process. Although it’s unknown whether Brown’s plea definitely rocked the vote, the Longhorns got what they wanted and were determined to make a statement.
Texas hoped it silenced Brown’s critics Saturday with a stirring 38-37 victory over Michigan.
The portion of 93,468 at the Rose Bowl clad in Texas burnt orange left content because a point had been reinforced: Don’t mess with Texas.
“We were sick of hearing about everyone criticizing Coach Brown all the time,” said senior flanker Tony Jeffery, who had four receptions for 38 yards.
“We were sick of hearing about the whole BCS thing, so this was big time. We wanted to do it for Coach Brown because he said what he said because he believes in this team.”
Brown’s comments after a win over Texas A&M; in November irked many college football followers outside Texas, especially in Northern California. He appealed to coaches and media members who vote in the two polls that weigh heavily in selecting teams for the four BCS bowls.
“If you’ve got a vote, vote for us.... I’m asking you to do that, and I’m asking everyone across the nation,” Brown said in an on-field interview while TV cameras rolled. “This team deserves to be in the BCS. They deserve to go more than some teams that are being talked about.”
Although California began the final week of the regular season ahead of Texas in the BCS and then won its last game against Southern Mississippi, the Longhorns overtook the Bears in the final BCS standings and landed in the Rose Bowl while Cal dropped to the Holiday Bowl.
Texans who didn’t take kindly to the Brown bashing felt vindicated after Cal lost, 45-31, to Texas Tech on Thursday. Then the Longhorns rallied behind quarterback Vince Young in their first Rose Bowl, finishing 11-1.
“This proves it to everybody,” senior center Jason Glynn said. “This proves that we deserved to be here. Coach Brown was right.”
Some of the Longhorns tried to downplay their focus on seeking BCS validation.
“I don’t know about the whole BCS thing and what that means, I just know that Mack’s a really good football coach,” said co-defensive coordinator Greg Robinson.
Texas last week rewarded Brown with a 10-year, $25-million contract. The Longhorns are 70-19 under Brown and have won at least 10 games in each of the last four seasons.
Of course, they have lost five in a row to Big 12 rival Oklahoma and were making their first BCS bowl game appearance, so there’s still room for improvement.
“It’s hard to go undefeated,” Jeffery said. “But when you look at the success our senior class has had ... that says a lot.
“We understand how Cal feels because we’ve been in that position with the BCS, but we can’t control the vote. We can’t control what anyone else does. We can only control what happens after where the BCS puts us.”
As for Brown, he said the real target of criticism should be the BCS system.
“I don’t think we’ll ever answer all the critics in sport, [but] the BCS should be answering those [questions] instead of me,” he said. “There should be questions about Utah, there should be questions about Louisville, there should be questions about the last three years, ‘Why didn’t Texas get in?’
”... Cal had a great team. Cal deserves to be in the BCS in my estimation. But I don’t think anybody that knows football questioned whether Texas should be here.”
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Before Saturday’s Rose Bowl victory, Texas split its six previous bowl games under Coach Mack Brown:
*--* Season Bowl Result 2004 Rose TEXAS 38, Michigan 37 2003 Holiday Washington State 28, TEXAS 20 2002 Cotton TEXAS 35, LSU 20 2001 Holiday TEXAS 47, Washington 43 2000 Holiday Oregon 35, TEXAS 30 1999 Cotton Arkansas 27, TEXAS 6 1998 Cotton TEXAS 38, Mississippi State 11