April 29, 2009

What if VY came back in 2006?

What if Vince Young made good on his promise to Mack Brown in the locker room after beating USC in the Rose Bowl to return for his final season of eligibility?

Does anyone think Ohio State beats Texas in Austin in 2006? James Laurinaitis would have been exhausted from chasing VY - not picking off passes from Colt McCoy. Even if Troy Smith came out throwing when Gene Chizik thought the Buckeyes would come out running, you get the feeling VY would have done what was necessary to protect home turf.

Something says with VY working behind Kasey Studdard, Lyle Sendlein and Justin Blalock, the Longhorns wouldn't have found much resistance from a Kansas State team in Manhattan led by then-true freshman Josh Freeman.

And something says the Longhorns wouldn't have struggled to pick up fourth-and-inches at the Texas A&M 8 in Royal-Memorial Stadium with VY and Jamaal Charles working the zone read. Just a hunch, but UT probably scores more than seven points with VY playing his final home game.

An undefeated Texas team would have faced Florida in Glendale, Ariz., and VY, fresh from winning the Heisman Trophy, wouldn't have allowed himself second helpings of cheesecake on the banquet circuit like Troy Smith did.

Jarvis Moss doesn't have the success he had facing the Buckeyes when he's up against Scott, Studdard, Sendlein and Blalock. Chris Leak and Tim Tebow would be in the fight of their lives against Brian Robison, Derek Lokey, Tim Crowder, Michael Griffin, Aaron Ross and Tarell Brown. VY and the Longhorns pull out another thriller in a last-second victory over the Gators for Texas' second straight national title in a wire-to-wire finish as the nation's No. 1 team.

Back-to-back Big 12 and national titles. Mack Brown would have one more crystal football than Bob Stoops, Steve Spurrier and Pete Carroll. Two more crystal footballs than Urban Meyer. Texas would climb into talk of team of the decade instead of playing Iowa in the Alamo Bowl. Texas would be drawing comparisons to the Miami teams of the 1980s and early 1990s. All this love for the Florida Gators this decade would be snuggled up in Austin.

The Longhorns would be legit repeat champions - not the self-proclaimed AP-BCS repeat champions the USC Trojans boast from 2003 and 2004.

Stoops, so frustrated that his five-game win streak against Texas from 2000-04 didn't stuff his pockets with every recruit from the Lone Star State and ruin UT's reputation, probably would have actively campaigned for the San Diego Chargers' job that went to Norv Turner.

VY - not JaMarcus Russell - would have gone No. 1 in the 2007 NFL Draft to the Oakland Raiders. There would have been no rookie of the year for VY to win in Oakland because the team wasn't good enough. No EA Sports Madden NFL 2008 video game cover. Maybe Young would realize he's going to have to work overtime to clean up this toxic waste spill. So he doesn't get swept up in being a celebrity star in the NFL and skip valuable time learning in the off-season.

Or maybe he becomes so disenchanted with Al Davis and his flammable sweat suit that he decides to pursue a career in the NBA.

Jamaal Charles would have been a higher draft pick than a fourth-rounder in Kansas City because he would have been a Heisman Trophy front-runner in 2007. That is if Ramonce Taylor wasn't edging him out. Remember, VY was Ramonce's personal police officer when they were together at Texas.

As long as VY was around, Taylor didn't seem to stray off course. I'll never forget when I asked VY to give me an example of his leadership at the Home Depot College Football Awards in Orlando a month before the national title game. VY said, "Well, keeping after Ramonce was a full-time job."

I'm willing to say Ramonce is still on the Texas team in 2006 if VY is still in Austin because VY would have had him in step. Maybe the year of maturity means Taylor finishes out his eligibility at UT and gives Texas one of its most potent 1-2 running back punches ever in 2007.

Colt McCoy would have had another year to study and prepare for the 2007 season. Something says Texas would have found a running game in 2007 before the 13-minute mark of the fourth quarter against Nebraska in Week 9. Who knows if Texas - as two-time defending national champs - would have allowed Kansas State to roll into Austin and put the worst home loss of the Mack Brown Era - 41-21 - on the Longhorns? With Colt, Jamaal and Ramonce in the backfield, I think not.

It's all about confidence. Hard to quantify how much the mojo from 2006 would have carried over to 2007. Could Texas have overcome Limas Sweed's wrist injury in 2007? Would Charles still turn it over (essentially twice) like he did against OU with his fumble at the goal line and dropped pass that led to an interception in a 28-21 UT loss? Would Ramonce have simply built on his dizzying numbers from 2005 in 2006 and 2007? Does Texas limp into College Station in Dennis Franchione's last game and lose when they've got a tidal wave of swagger from a two title runs?

If Texas wins back-to-back national titles in 2005 and 2006 is anyone talking about the "Texas factor?" Is Ketch having to spend hours digging up facts about how OU, USC and LSU don't come close to producing the quality and depth of players in the NFL that UT has produced this decade?

The Longhorns would be going for their third national title in five years this season. Some of you will say, "What's the point of this?" But Mack Brown swears VY told him in the locker room after the Rose Bowl against USC that he was coming back to UT for his final season of eligibility.

If you're willing, step into the time machine for a second and take a look at how things might have been different for UT on the field, off the field, in recruiting. How things might have been different for VY in the NFL, for Colt, for Ramonce?

I know it's a bit Hollywood screenwriter to play the what-if game. But VY told Mack he was coming back. Tell me what I've forgotten or what I've missed or that I'm crazy …

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