January 5, 2006
Vince Young:
He managed to one-up a Heisman Trophy: He won a national title -- and to do it, he put on a jaw-droppingly memorable one-man show for the sports world.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

So that poll last month to figure out where the 2005 USC team fits among the all-time greats turns out to be ESPN's "Dewey Defeats Truman" moment (not to mention for the fans who voted USC all the way to No. 3).

It begs the question: If this 2005 USC team was ranked No. 3 all time, then where does this 2005 Texas team that beat USC rank?

Why not 2005 Texas as No. 1?

There is at least one sound argument for ranking UT ahead of both No. 2-ranked 2001 Miami and top-ranked '95 Nebraska: Neither of those teams beat anyone remotely as good as this USC team.

(I'm not even sure that either of those teams beat an opponent in the top 30 all time, let alone the top 3 -- or, I suppose, wherever you'd now rank this 2005 USC team. Hopefully, that 2004 USC team will now get its props.)

I say we run that entire top-10 comparison poll again right now, this time using 2005 Texas instead of 2005 USC. (Hey, why wait? Take today's poll on the right and have the first say!)

When the well-deserved instant-history halo from Wednesday night's late-night thrill wears off, I'm not sure if Texas will still be my No. 1. If nothing else, it should replace 2005 USC at No. 3.

But no matter where you slot them, the Longhorns have earned that "all-time best" respect denied them in December.

Best Game Ever?
Speaking of superlatives, was that not the greatest college football title game ever? I didn't think anything could top Ohio State's OT win over Miami in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, but this Rose Bowl did it.

If you factor in (1) the eye-popping strength of the two teams; (2) the "all-time" status of this USC dynasty; (3) the individual brilliance of the game's MVP, Vince Young; (4) the seesaw scoring culminating with Young's fourth-down TD in the final thrilling minute; and (5) the widely unexpected result, it was the most overwhelmingly breathtaking title game of all time.

Here's the most impressive thing you can say: It lived up to the all-time outrageous levels of pregame hype. When does that ever happen?

More on V. Young
Before the game, Young was insisting he would return to school for his senior year. But after capturing a national title -- and in such an electrifying way -- would he turn pro?

Then again, Matt Leinart had the same experience last January, and he returned to school for his senior year.

If Vince comes back, Texas is the overwhelming preseason No. 1 and, as this year's Heisman runner-up, he'd immediately be installed as the Trophy favorite, setting up a dogfight with media favorite Brady Quinn.

I'll be very curious to see if the draft experts think this Rose performance improves Young's draft stock. Would he be ranked ahead of Leinart? Even more intriguing: Would the Texans think of taking the in-state hero over Reggie Bush with the No. 1 pick?

It's Vince's call. Len P. has the must-read on it, suggesting he's coming back to school.

Mack Brown: UT coach pulls a Roy Williams; no more monkey!
LenDale White: USC RB struts stuff, ends season w/ 24 TDs
Vince Young: Too much praise? No way! 467 total yds, 3 TDs
USC celeb fans: Not allowed on sidelines. Then team loses!
Baylor women: 30-game win streak snapped by Mizzou
Andre Agassi: Slow 2006 start? Out of Aussie Open (ankle)
USC: Postscript
This loss to Texas doesn't mean that USC was chopped liver. They still won 1.5 titles -- and reached 2.5 title games -- in 3 years. That's a dynasty by my (admittedly liberal) definition.

As anyone would have said about Texas if it had lost to USC, there's no shame for USC in losing to one of the greatest college football teams of all time (especially if you're one of the greatest yourself).

But I think it proves, once and for all, that USC's 2004 undisputed title team was the best edition of its 3-year run. The biggest questions for 2006: Who will replace Matt Leinart? Or Reggie Bush? Or LenDale White?

CBB: Prove It
College football is over. College hoops is ramping up. The start of conference play is the time to separate puffed-up, early-season records from legit Final Four aspirations.

No. 2 UConn already took a hit, dropping its first game of the Big East season at Marquette on Tuesday night. Tonight, there are two even huger "Prove-It" games featuring four teams in the Top 10:

Villanova (3) at Louisville (8):
Unbeaten 'Nova has already beaten then-No. 5 Oklahoma in Philly; the rest of the schedule has been cupcake-ish. A win at Freedom Hall would be as quality as any team has had in a hostile arena this season (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2).

Michigan St. (7) at Illinois (6):
Along with Florida, the unbeaten Illini are still a March mystery. Did U of I really suffer so shallow a drop-off from last year's runner-up squad? MSU is the toughest team the Illini will face at home all season (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2)/

I'm sorry: Can we still talk about the Rose Bowl?

NFL Job Board
Edwards: From Jets to Chiefs? The architect of "Hello? You play to win the game!" (though not too many wins in 2005) is reportedly on his way to Kansas City, in exchange for some draft picks as compensation. Wouldn't it be funny if the Jets tried to rehire Pete Carroll? He'd say "no" faster than Vince Young ran through his defense.

Bills fire GM Tom Donahoe: It's like a late holiday gift to the fans who turned on him, though they never mustered it to a tipping point of "Fire Donahoe!" signs sweeping the city (unlike Detroit, where fans held up "Fire Millen!" signs and chanted "Fire Millen" at Pistons and Red Wings games).

The team is rumored to be bringing in Marv Levy as a consultant (or more?). Is this a new trend of bringing back old team leaders to help current problems? The Texans just brought in Dan Reeves as a consultant. Between the two of them, that's like -- what? -- 8 Super Bowl losses?

Perhaps if Levy had had Vince Young instead of Jim Kelly, the Bills might have won one of those. I'm sorry: I'm still obsessed.

Politics Watch
As a politics junkie, I am pretty excited for the sports-centric showdown in Pennsylvania for the 2006 gubernatorial election:

Red corner: Lynn Swann, NFL Hall of Famer and hero of Steelers Nation, cornerstone of Western Pennsylvania voters.

Blue corner: Ed Rendell, incumbent, Philly guy and diehard Eagles fan (so intense that he helps host a TV postgame show).

Will fans vote party lines?
Or NFL rooting interests? (And what does that say about our democracy if they do?)

This is just the start: I'll be tracking this all the way through November. (Know any other sports-politics crossovers for the 2006 election season that I should be watching? E-mail me!)

Meanwhile, if Mack Brown ran for governor of Texas in 2006, he'd probably win.

"Dancing with Stars"
Despite the runaway success of "Dancing with the Stars," I was mocked last summer for labeling ballroom dancing a "sport." With Season 2 starting tonight, at least one NFL Hall of Famer agrees with me.

Sports fans will be eagerly tuning in (or perhaps shielding their eyes and moaning "Why? Why??") for Jerry Rice's debut as one of 10 contestants for the new season (8 p.m., ABC)

(Did you see Rice interviewed on the sidelines during the Fiesta Bowl talking about the show? He's so into it! The "Quick Step," the "out" pattern: It's two sides of the same coin!)

Want more sports hooks? Start with ESPN's own Kenny Mayne, who (I predict) might be the first contestant knocked out.

There's also "Bad News Bears" star Tatum O'Neal; Drew Lachey, brother of college football savant Nick; one-time NBA aspirant Master P (I change my mind: he will be KO'd first); and WWE diva Stacy Keibler. (Come on: Ballroom dancing is at least more of a sport than pro wrestling.)

Given the success of John O'Hurley last season, I'm picking George Hamilton (so smarmy he makes O'Hurley look unaffected) to win it all.

But only if Vince Young isn't entered. With his magical feet, Young could add a dancing championship to his collection.

USC's now-infamous 4th down play-calling:
Let's see: You have the Heisman winner on the SIDELINES for the biggest play of the year? Won't argue with White getting the ball, but Bush has to be out there.
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Rose Coverage
Page 2 Index
All-Time CFB Teams
'05 Texas
To be the best, beat the best
'95 Nebraska
UT's title W more impressive
'01 Miami
Could D stop Young? Hmm.
'04 USC
Better D than '05 team
'79 Alabama
OK: Props to old school

Was it me, or did Reggie Bush have a pretty quiet 177 yards? Besides that ridiculous somersault TD, he seemed pretty contained.

Instant replay in CFB experienced a Rose showcase that confirmed it as a success. If anything, they should have used it more (Young knee).

So A-Rod will play for the U.S. in the World Baseball Classic? He'll still get booed, and it'll be even worse when the D.R. takes the title.

Vikings Three plead "not guilty": In what will certainly be 2006's Trial of the Year. It's gonna make what Kobe's trial would have been seem PG-rated.

Chargers Pro Bowl LB Shawne Merriman won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. (I'd put Dallas DE DeMarcus Ware right up there, for the long term.)

More Awards: Tedy Bruschi, Steve Smith share Comeback of the Year. Pats fans (and Tom Brady) might cry, "Disrespect!" but shared is fair.

Did you see that iTunes is offering a 15-minute Rose bowl highlight reel? I'll be very intrigued to see how many people buy it. Pretty cool.

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