Inside Texas Blog: Lucky Break

The fateful play... (Photo: L. Blumenfeld/Getty)

After talking with cornerback Tarell Brown, Inside Texas' Ross Lucksinger looks back at when Brown broke his arm and how it might have changed the course of history.

After Mack Brown's season-opening press conference on Sunday, several senior Longhorns were available. One of the players I was able to speak with was cornerback Tarell Brown. I asked him how his arm was feeling and he said, "we'll see," and then elaborated to say, "I'm gonna show y'all when practice starts Monday."

Well, at practice on Monday, we found out that his arm is doing just fine, but the mention of Brown's broken limb got me thinking about the collision that caused it.

USC had the ball on the Texas 22. It was 2nd and 1. There was 6:50 left in the game and the Trojans were looking to add to a 31-26 lead. Matt Leinart dropped back to pass and saw Dwayne Jarrett streaking across the middle of the field. The senior QB fired the ball in and Jarrett turned up the field, darting in-between safety Michael Griffin and a diving Brown to score the touchdown.

Score: USC 38, Texas 26

The red side of the Rose Bowl was rocking. The sound from the Trojan fans was immense as they began to celebrate their inevitable victory and a third consecutive AP national title.

But then, silence…

Two Longhorns, Griffin and Brown, lay motionless on the goal-line. A hush came over the crowd (well, most of it anyway) as the Burnt Orange faithful held their Hook'ems aloft and waited for a sign that the players were ok.

"Any time you see a player down and their legs aren't moving, that's when you get scared," said Mack Brown at Sunday's press conference, referring to that play in particular.

Their legs did indeed move and the Texas players were able to be safely removed from the playing field. It was unfortunate that the two Longhorns received such painful injuries, but it may also have been a blessing in disguise.

With play stopped, all of the momentum that USC had so effectively captured was gone. Texas was able to sit back and take a moment to review the situation and gather their heads. In short, if Tarell Brown had not broken his arm, Texas might not have won the national championship.

I'm not saying that the injury absolutely sealed the win for Texas. The potential contributions Brown would have had if he'd not been hurt could have also made a difference, but it was one of a thousand moments in that game that, if they had gone another way, could have changed the outcome.

That's college football, though. Every national champion has those moments throughout the season that have to turn out right if they are going to be on top at the end and the Horns' 2005 campaign certainly had its share of those moments. That's also what I appreciate about what Mack Brown has done with the Texas football program.

I'll borrow a bit of wisdom from one of my brothers, Jon, who was a supporter of Brown's during the days when people questioned the Longhorn coach's ability to win the ‘big one.' What he appreciated about Brown was the fact that, even though Texas was only putting up about nine or ten wins a season (Texas is one of the few places one would use the term "only nine or ten wins"), the Horns were consistently in position for a national title.

Minus a roughing the kicker call in the Big 12 title game in 2001 and Major Applewhite is starting in the national championship against Miami. Vince Young doesn't have the ball knocked out of his hands at the goal-line against Oklahoma and maybe Texas is playing USC one year earlier in the Orange Bowl after the 2004 season.

Moments like these swung the wrong way for Texas, but by constantly staying in position, eventually, Texas had their lucky break.

What do you think?

Longhorns, Don't Listen
Clendon Ross - Aug 7, 2006

So last Wednesday, I'm about to pull out of town for a little beach R & R before the next several, hectic (but joyous) months of football, and I get a call on my cell from Ross (Lucksinger, our web editor here at InsideTexas.com) who rather breathlessly passes on the news that reports out of Oklahoma indicate that Rhett Bomar and another player (turned out to be OL J.D. Quinn) have been kicked off the OU team for being paid for work they did not do.

Like many of you, I imagine, my first reaction was a bit shock (I didn't think they'd ever get caught up there!), and, I'll admit, a smile. Not necessarily that the news had much impact on Texas -- I've already explained in pretty good detail why I think the Sooners were over-rated vis a vis the Longhorns in the preseason polls -- but because it represented a bit of comeuppance for a cocky kid like Bomar who ridiculed Texas and coach Mack Brown back around Signing Day '04 and who has been a less than stellar role model and team leader while in Norman. (And that says nothing of his dad, who, after his mouthiness first towards Brown and then towards his son's Oklahoma teammates and coaches, also must be acutely feeling the pain of Rhett's failures.)

Alcoholism, injury... those are things I wish on no athlete, whether Sooner, Aggie or Trojan. But self-inflicted suffering like this, particularly due to such a selfish act, by such a seemingly selfish player, well, you get what you deserve.

But what I really want to comment on is something I read in the San Antonio Express-News while sitting in Manuel's in Port Isabel on Thursday morning. (If you haven't been, next time you go to South Padre, go! It's just to the northwest of the lighthouse before the causeway over to the Island. I recommend the Con Todo with Picadillo, add enchilada sauce. It's meal enough for two, but I do my darnedest every time to try to finish the whole thing off. My wife goes with the breakfast taco -- singular, because that's all you'll need, maybe for two breakfasts -- which, trust me, will redefine your idea of a taco.) Two lines in David Flores' column on the Bomar situation made me cringe. First:

Without Rhett Bomar, Oklahoma has no chance against a UT team that still will be mighty formidable despite the loss of Vince Young.

Followed later by this:

Texas beat the Sooners 45-12 en route to the national championship last year and should win the grudge match by at least three touchdowns this season.

Hey, I'm the first one to tell you that I think that Texas should walk out of the Cotton Bowl victorious on Oct. 7. But "Oklahoma has no chance"? Texas should win "by at least three touchdowns"? I'm starting to long for the long ago days -- like, before last Wednesday afternoon -- when the pundits (including Flores) were singing the Sooners' praises.

The underdog role, despite coming off the national championship with key returners on both sides of the ball, fit the Horns well, and set OU up for (what I expected to be) a big fall first vs. Oregon and then vs. Texas a few weeks later. Now, the onus, and the potential for big-headedness is back on Texas, with predictions of Longhorn blowouts and Big 12 South titles.

Which is not all bad, by any means, and arguably justified. But it heightens the need for strong leadership to keep complacency and that Bomar-like cockiness out of Moncrief-Neuhaus.

My first click here at IT when I got back to Austin on Sunday night was on Bill Frisbie's Title Defense Begins Now article, and it had welcome news on that front:

Safety Michael Griffin wore his national championship ring around his neck until Sunday morning. Now, it’s in a safe place and all Griffin wants is to win another one just like it.

"That was last year’s team," he said. "We’ve got players on this year’s team that didn’t even play in the national championship game. They’re just wearing the ring. You can be happy about the ring. Maybe you helped at the beginning of the season, or maybe you helped on the scout teams, or maybe you didn’t help at all. I just think it was last year’s team. Obviously, the ring says ‘2005’. This is a whole new season. We can’t go out there thinking about last year’s team. We’ve got to go out and get ready to play and not think about last year."

And not think about a Bomar-less OU, or an Ohio State minus last year's linebacking corps, or the Aggies, well, just being Aggies, or any other thoughts that seemingly lessen this year's challenge. Block those thoughts, and the media's fickle love, Longhorns. It remains a great challenge, requiring great focus, and then execution, week in and week out, regardless of who does or does not line up for the guy's in the other jerseys, and regardless of what us media types think.

Now, it's off to Denius for the first practice of August! Stay tuned to Inside Texas...

What do you think?

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