Okay. We are now some 14 hours after the fact and have listened to all the post-game analysis we can stomach about Alabama's victory over Texas in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game in Pasadena, California. Or, have we?
Fear not, friends. For I offer for your consideration even more analysis...rather, a few points and some questions for you to consider regarding what I believe to be Mack Brown's monumental mistake in last night's game.
I can hear some now: "What? The highest paid coach in college athletics history making a mistake? How absurd! Why, that's simply not possible."
Oh really? This might come as a shock to some, but Brown has made an eerily similar mistake in the past, with an all too eerily familiar result.
God love Garrett Gilbert for his efforts in last night's game. It was without question the single most difficult night of his young career.
The true freshman backup to Colt McCoy was put into the unenviable position of facing not just the best defense Texas had faced all season, but the best defensive mind that young Master Gilbert had ever dreamed of facing before his 19th birthday.
And therein lies the rub, my friends.
My point, indeed, my question, is why on God's green earth was an inexperienced, true freshman, never-been-in-a-big-game kid such as Gilbert, even in the game at all, especially at that moment, on that stage, with that much at stake?
I mean, think about it. When McCoy went down (and we are talking about a young man who never missed a start in his career due to injury), Texas was facing, well, a Texas-sized attack of the "Oh, Nos."
I dare say that this may have been the single most critical moment, and mistake, of Mack Brown's career, seconded only by a similar moment in 2001, when he replaced another legendary QB with another kid with similar inexperience...and it cost him a Big XII Championship and a shot at a national title as well.
Starting to remember now? Ah, yes. The date was Dec. 1, 2001, and to borrow someone else's words, "A day that will live in infamy"—the day that Brown insisted on playing young Chris Simms over Major Applewhite.
Remember? Chris Simms threw four, yes, four first-half interceptions, which led to a 29-17 halftime deficit and, ultimately, a 39-37 crushing defeat to Colorado, despite an heroic effort by Major Applewhite after replacing Simms before the half.
How does all this matter, you ask? Well, I'll tell you.
Last night, in the game of games, on a night when heroes would rise, and hearts would break, Mack Brown chose to insert Gilbert into that QB role, instead of bringing in, as I believe he could and should have done, John Chiles.
First, let's get one thing straight. I am in no way comparing John Chiles to Major Applewhite in terms of talent at the QB position.
Again, I can hear them from my office in Florida. "But, he's a receiver," they'll say. Yes, he is, but he is also an experienced quarterback who, for two years prior to Gilbert's arrival, was solidly in place as McCoy's backup.
Here you have a kid who has played in 29 games. The point? He has actually PLAYED in big games before and would not have had that "deer in the headlights" look that Gilbert did for an entire half.
Another point? He knows the offense, knows the system, backward and forward, from the perspective of two positions. Uh-oh, there's that experience thing again.
And, finally, for his career, he has a 9.3 yards-per-carry average which would have served him well when needing to scramble, or run an option, or <gasp> perhaps even run the wildcat.
Nah. You're right. That would only have served to confuse the Alabama defense. I mean, what? When you can try to run up the gut every play for an entire half, which had proven futile for the Texas offense all year anyway.
Alas, stick with what you know. Right? Like, running a shovel pass with 15 seconds remaining in the first half, so your freshman quarterback can throw it right into the middle of a defensive line.
Dang it. There goes that experience thing again.
Listen, folks. I understand that Mack Brown has done wonders at Texas. His feats have been well-documented and make him one of the top coaches in America, in my (and the Board of Regents') opinion.
However, when you are the highest paid coach in college football, I expect you to make decisions befitting a man of that stature and in that position.
And, frankly, Coach Brown made his second critical blunder surrounding a young quarterback while at Texas.
And eerily, it cost him, and Texas, a national championship both times.