AN UNFORGETTABLE NIGHT AT THE ROSE BOWL By Tara Ross
by Special to DallasBlog.com
Fri, Jan 6, 2006, 03:08 AM
Wednesday was a good day to be a Texan. For the first time in more than three decades, the Texas Longhorns won the national football championship. I was lucky enough to be at the Rose Bowl for the occasion.
I should preface this article by saying that I'm not much of a sports person. As a UT law alum and the wife of an avid UT fan, I was perfectly happy to attend the game, of course. But let's be honest. When push comes to shove, I don't really care about football all that much. Or so I thought. The atmosphere at the game bristled with energy and excitement. The stadium teemed with burnt orange shirts. Yes, I was wearing one, too - and a Texas baseball cap to boot.
Texans are used to seeing Longhorn fans break out with their forefinger and pinky pointed at the sky, but the Longhorn sign was quite a sight in California , I'm sure. I will confess that I am more used to linking my thumbs together in the air to symbolize the Rice Owls (where I got my BA), but I, too, got into the Longhorn spirit by the end of the night.
Everywhere you looked, you saw friends. Whether you previously knew them or not, by the end of the evening, they were your comrades in battle. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sat with his wife and daughter, just a few rows away from me-and one row behind Texas fans Matthew McConaughey, Lance Armstrong, and Will Ferrell. I heard that Rick Perry was there and that people were trying to get pictures of our Governor, a Texas A&M alum, making the Longhorn sign. I don't know if anyone succeeded.
Congressmen, state senators, and state representatives were seen, rooting their team on. Railroad Commissioners Michael Williams and Victor Carillo made the trek from Austin to California . Williams is a USC alum, but a Texas native. I wonder who he was rooting for. Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz was there, lustily singing "The Eyes of Texas" following the UT victory.
With a little more than four minutes left in the game, UT was behind by 12 points, but soon UT’s star quarterback Vince Young ran into the end zone to bring the Longhorns within striking distance. The score was 38-33. My sister sent a text-message from Houston . We need one more touchdown! Soon, a critical decision by the USC coach gave Texas its opportunity.
About halfway down the field, on fourth down with two yards to go, USC decided to go for the first down, rather than to punt. The Texas defense crushed their effort, regaining the ball and sending the UT fans into a frenzy. My baseball cap flew from my head as someone's arms went flailing. People were jumping, yelling, and screaming. They knew that anything can happen, particularly with a quarterback like Young on your side. Soon, Young ran the ball into the end zone, on a 4th down, to score the go-ahead touchdown. Then he ran in the two-point conversion to lengthen the Texas lead. The score: 41-38.
In the UT stands, there was pandemonium, mass chaos, joy, laughter, and shouting. Strangers spontaneously hugged. They didn't think twice about it. It seemed natural; I high-fived with so many people that my hands stung. It was a great, festive, and wonderful moment, which was made complete 19 seconds later when the clock ran out and the UT victory was final.
As I said, I'm not really a sports fan, but that moment was one-of-a kind. I doubt that I will ever forget it. The only sports moment I know of that would have moved me more (had I been there) would have been the final ten seconds of the 1980 U.S. hockey game between Russia and the United States .
As with the 1980 hockey game, the underdog won for one reason, pure and simple. The U.S. hockey players wanted the victory more than their Russian counterparts, just as the UT players wanted the BCS championship more than the USC players. Vince Young, particularly, seemed as if he were on a mission to refute the choice of the Heisman electors a few weeks ago, when they awarded this year's trophy to USC running back Reggie Bush. Young practically willed the outcome of the UT game last night, carrying his team to victory. Afterwards, at the championship ceremony, he appropriately struck a Heisman pose.
Wednesday night was an unforgettable moment that will live on in the memories of Texans for years and years to come. Let's give our boys a hero's welcome as they return to Texas .