Posted: Thursday January 5, 2006 4:24PM; Updated: Thursday January 5, 2006 5:54PM
Vince Young ran for 200 yards against USC in the Rose Bowl.
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
A few thoughts from a holiday season spent largely in front of the tube:
Three thoughts from the Rose Bowl. First, I think you can argue that Vince Young's performance was the greatest in the history of the sport. And you could make a compelling argument that it's the greatest single-game performance in the history of team sports. If anyone can come up with a better one, I'm all ears. Young single-handedly toppled a team that hadn't lost in three years, one that had the last two Heisman winners, and he did it in their hometown. And he made it look routine, like he could sprint for eight or nine yards any time he wanted. I really wish I had been there to see it in person, because it was the kind of performance you'd like to be able to tell the kids you saw. (Perhaps I'll just lie to them.)
Second, the Rose Bowl showed why college football is better than the pros. In the NFL, every player on the field is NFL-caliber. Just about everyone is huge, just about everyone is strong and just about everyone is fast. So the fastest guy on the field is only marginally faster than everyone else and the strongest is only marginally stronger than everyone else. Having the talent so evenly spread around, to me at least, slows things down. Compare it to last night's game. You've got a handful of NFL-caliber players, and then a bunch of almost-but-not-quite NFL caliber players trying to chase them around. The talent gap is a little wider, so you have the potential for more big plays, for more dazzling individual performances. (Obviously this argument loses some force if it's a team like USC or Texas being chased around by a team like the University of Buffalo.)
Third, putting thoughts 1 and 2 together, I'm not sure how Young's skills will translate to the NFL, where he's going to face defenses with 11 studs. But I sure as hell would give him a shot. He throws sidearm (like Bernie Kosar) and it seems like he's always throwing off-balance or off the wrong foot. But he rarely makes bad decisions, and what he lacks in textbook form, I'd say he more than makes up for with his wheels. Based on what I saw last night, I'd rather have him than Matt Leinart if I were an NFL GM. And I just hope whoever drafts him doesn't try to "fix" him by tinkering with his motion. Just let the guy do what he does. It's worked pretty well for him so far.
Nine years ago Sports Illustrated ran a cover story that asked "What ever happened to the white athlete?" The answer, apparently, is that he's alive and well and being patronized within an inch of his life.
Before I get going, I realize there's a certain irony to a white guy complaining about white guys being stereotyped. But indulge me for a minute. The Adam Morrison-Larry Bird comparisons are mildly irritating. Yes, Morrison is 6-foot-8. Yes, he has a mustache that makes him look like he's from someplace called French Lick. Yes, he's skilled. But he's no Bird. However, since he's white, Bird is automatically the one player he's going to be likened to.