Big 12: Nathan Vasher
Darrell K. Royal/Texas Memorial Stadium now has more than 100,00 seats. The Longhorns have a designated successor for Brown in place with rising star Will Muschamp. And that pesky problem with Bob Stoops has been alleviated recently with four victories in the last five seasons over the Sooners.
Times are good for Brown.
Here's a look at the Longhorns’ all-decade team during that time.
QB: Vince Young
RB: Jamaal Charles
RB: Cedric Benson
WR: Jordan Shipley
WR: Roy Williams
TE: David Thomas
OL: Justin Blalock
OL: Jonathan Scott
OL: Derrick Dockery
OL: Leonard Davis
C: Lyle Sendlein
DL: Brian Orakpo
DL: Cory Redding
DL: Shaun Rogers
DL: Casey Hampton
LB: Sergio Kindle
LB: Derrick Johnson
LB: Roddrick Muckelroy
DB: Earl Thomas
DB: Michael Huff
DB: Nathan Vasher
DB: Aaron Ross
P: Richmond McGee
K: Hunter Lawrence
KR: Quan Cosby
Offensive player of the decade: QB Vince Young. The most electrifying player of the decade capped his career by scoring the game-winning touchdown to lead his team to the national championship in his final drive. Brown finished with a 30-2 record, 6.040 passing yards and 3,127 rushing yards.
Defensive player of the decade: LB Derrick Johnson. He wasn’t around when the Longhorns won the national championship, but was perhaps the best player at his position at the school since Tommy Nobis. He capped his career with the Nagurski and Butkus Awards after earning All-America honors in each of his last two seasons.
Coach of the decade: Mack Brown. Remember when people used to joke about his inability to win big games or how he coddled his players. That all changed as the decade progressed. Brown got tougher and made some astute moves at defensive coordinator to help his program take the next step with the addition of coaches like Gene Chizik and Will Muschamp.
Moment of the decade: Vince Young’s run leads comeback victory to the 2005 national championship. Young’s game-winning 8-yard TD run with 19 seconds left boosted the Longhorns to a 41-38 victory over USC in the 2006 Rose Bowl, providing the margin of victory in one of the greatest college football games in history. Michael Huff’s fourth-down stop of LenDale White on the preceding drive set up Young’s heroics to snap the Trojans’ 34-game winning streak.
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiTexas' Earl Thomas set a team record with eight interceptions this season.
If there’s such a thing as “The Natural” among defensive backs, it's Thomas. He isn’t overly big or physical (5-foot-10, 197 pounds) but he has the uncanny instincts to stick with any receiver. His skills definitely will translate well to the next level.
Thomas isn't as physically gifted as either Eric Berry of Tennessee or USC’s Taylor Mays. Both figure to be picked ahead of Thomas unless he has an off-the-charts workout for NFL scouts later this spring.
Thomas was a finalist for the Thorpe Award in 2009 and would have been the favorite for the award if he had remained for his junior season in 2010.
If he had stayed for another season and had another productive year, it’s not out of the question that Thomas could have developed into the greatest defensive back in Texas football history.
As it is, he’ll be in the conversation with players like Tarell Brown, Cedric and Michael Griffin, Michael Huff, Quentin Jammer, Aaron Ross and Nathan Vasher. All left Texas for a career as a starting defensive back in the NFL. Huff and Ross left with Thorpe awards in back-to-back seasons in 2005 and 2006.
With Thomas leaving, sophomore Nolan Brewster could move into the starting job when spring practice begins for the Longhorns late next month.
A more likely scenario might be to move Blake Gideon to the tight safety position to make room for game-breaking defensive back Christian Scott at Gideon’s current position at free safety.
Scott was giving Gideon a serious challenge in fall camp this year before he was academically suspended. His ferocious hits would provide an intimidating presence to the secondary that was missing this year.
But whoever takes over Thomas' spot will be attempting to fill a sizable void that makes Texas’ rebuilding job a little more daunting.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Superman's leap: Roy Williams' tipped pass leads to OU's game-clinching
Date: Oct. 6, 2001
Place: Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas
Score: Oklahoma 14, Texas 3
Bob Stoops warned Roy Williams not to leave his feet.
Fortunately for the Sooners, Williams didn't listen. His well-timed jump led to arguably the biggest defensive play in Big 12 history and the clinching moment of one of Stoops' most memorable and satisfying victories.
With Texas at its own 3-yard line, the Sooners' blitzing safety came up with the biggest of plays. His leap enabled him to hit the elbow of Texas quarterback Chris Simms, deflecting his attempted pass. The ball squirted into the hands of surprised Oklahoma linebacker Teddy Lehman, who returned it 2 yards for a clinching touchdown with 2:01 left, capping a masterful defensive performance.
The Sooners claimed the victory in the annual rivalry, which had added importance in 2001 because both teams were ranked in the top five coming into the game for the first time since 1984.
And both played strongly in a memorable defensive slugfest that was won by Williams' heroics and a gritty relief performance by Oklahoma backup quarterback Jason White, who replaced injured starter Nate Hybl in the second quarter.
White made the most of his coming-out party, finishing by completing 16 of 23 passes for 108 yards. And he was just as effective as a scrambler, rushing for a team-high 38 yards on 12 carries.
Oklahoma tailback Quentin Griffin, who gashed the Longhorns for six touchdowns in a memorable 2000 performance, accounted for the game's lone offensive touchdown. The diminutive tailback took an option pitch from White and scooted 2 yards for a touchdown around left end to give the Sooners an early 7-0 lead, capping an 11-play, 61-yard scoring drive.
Texas struck back when Dusty Mangum converted on a 27-yard field goal with 14 seconds left in the first half to pull the Longhorns within 7-3 at the break.
And that's how the score remained for most of the rest of the game as both teams' defenses alternated coming up with big plays.
Simms was terrorized by a blitzing Oklahoma defense which produced four interceptions, including three in the fourth quarter. He was also sacked five times, including three by speedy Oklahoma defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson.
The Longhorns appeared to have grabbed momentum late in the third quarter after Duncan shanked a 24-yard attempt and the Sooners failed on three straight plays inside the Texas 5-yard line.
The Longhorns were turned away on their deepest fourth-quarter possession at the Oklahoma 34 when Simms was intercepted by Antonio Perkins in the Sooners' end zone. Simms was aiming for Sloan Thomas on a post pattern.
Oklahoma then took the ensuing drive for nearly six-and-a-half minutes as they marched to the Texas 27. But Stoops eschewed another field goal attempt by Tim Duncan, who had missed two earlier, in favor of a pooch punt from Duncan.
The strategy worked perfectly as confused Texas defensive back Nathan Vasher fielded the kick and was immediately stopped at his own 3.
With all of their timeouts remaining, Texas coach Mack Brown said after the game that his team planned to win the game on the ensuing drive.
But Williams and his leap took care of that on the next play, icing a dramatic victory that still resonates as one of the best defensive performances in the Stoops era.
They said it, part I: "To keep them out of the end zone, to have five sacks, force four interceptions. ... It's just amazing," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops on his team's big defensive effort.
They said it, part II: "Roy made a great play on the quarterback. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time," Oklahoma linebacker Teddy Lehman on his interception caused by Roy Williams' "Superman" leap.
They said it, part III: ''We were so close. We knew it was going to be a dog fight. Nothing fooled us. We got exactly what we expected.'' Texas quarterback Chris Simms on his team's disappointment after the loss.
They said it, part IV: ''It was two great defenses and two offenses trying to scratch them. It was a great football game. Both teams played as hard as they could," Texas coach Mack Brown on the bitter defensive struggle.
They said it, part V: "It was like two Mack trucks running into each other for 3 hours and 15 minutes," Brown on the physical nature of the game.
They said it, part VI: "Jason showed great leadership and toughness. He executed exceptionally well today coming off the bench. He had a solid game all around," Stoops on White's relief effort.
Factoids: The victory extended Oklahoma's winning streak to 18 games and marked the Sooners' second-straight victory over Texas ... White had thrown six passes in his career before this game, including four in the 2001 season ... Simms completed 24 of 42 passes for 198 yards ... The victory stretched Stoops' record against top 10 opponents to 8-0 at the start of his career at Oklahoma ... Texas was limited to 27 yards rushing on 25 carries ... Texas controlled Quentin Griffin, who was limited to 27 yards on 16 carries ... Mark Clayton led the Sooners in receiving with six grabs for 65 yards ... Texas wide receiver Roy Williams produced five receptions for 64 yards and B.J. Johnson added five catches for 23 yards ... Simms threw interceptions on three-straight fourth-quarter possessions to enable the Sooners to wrap up the victory. It was the lowest number of points for Texas since the infamous 66-3 loss to UCLA in 1997.
The upshot: The victory appeared to put the Sooners in the driver's seat for the South Division title. But they lost twice in the final five regular-season games, including a tough 16-13 regular-season home loss to Oklahoma State that cost them a berth in the Big 12 title game.
Instead, Oklahoma produced a gritty 10-3 victory over Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl to finish off an 11-2 season that saw them finish sixth in the final Associated Press poll.
Texas responded with a six-game winning streak that catapulted them into the Big 12 title game after Oklahoma's two late losses. But the Longhorns dropped a disappointing 39-37 defeat to Colorado in the conference championship game -- Mack Brown's second Big 12 title-game loss.
The Longhorns went on to defeat Washington, 47-43, in the Holiday Bowl to cap an 11-2 record. They were fifth in the final 2001 AP poll.
4. Davison's dramatic grab keeps Cornhuskers' national title hopes alive.
5. Bamboozled again and again and again. Boise's gadget plays doom Oklahoma.
6. Yes, Sirr. Parker's dramatic catches lead A&M to first Big 12 title
7. Crouch's TD catch cements Heisman bid, beats Oklahoma
8. Sproles and Roberson stun top-ranked OU, leading KSU to its first Big 12 title.
9. Emotional A&M victory brings closure after Bonfire tragedy.
10. Roll left: James Brown guarantees victory and then backs it up.
11. When BCS meant "Boo Chris Simms" in Colorado's first Big 12 title.
12. A Buffalo stampede: Six Chris Brown TDs lead CU to first Big 12 title game.
13. Run, Ricky, run. Ricky Williams breaks NCAA career rushing record.
14. Wild game, wilder post-game rants when Gundy and Leach meet in 2007.
15. Rout 66: No, that score wasn't a typo.
16. KSU finally slays the Cornhuskers.
17. Kingsbury and Long hook up in a passing duel for the ages.
18. Henery and Suh make Colorado blue.
19. Stunning OSU rally leads to Stoops' first home loss.
20. It's never over for Texas Tech until it's over.
21. Reesing to Meier. Again and again.
22. A Texas-sized comeback -- Texas over Oklahoma State in 2004.
23. A Border War unlike any of the rest -- Missouri over Kansas in 2007.
24. Seneca Wallace's wild TD run vs. Texas Tech in 2001.
25. Baylor's "So Much for Taking a Knee" against UNLV in 1999.