No Rout, But No Doubt
Texas fired coach John Mackovic last year largely because of a Sept. 13th 66-3 loss to UCLA, a Longhorns lie-down that proved you can't spell quit without a U and a T. In Mackovic's place Texas installed Mack Brown, who had been successful at North Carolina, but what good did it do? Last season the Longhorns trailed the Bruins 38-0 at the half. This year they narrowed the margin to 35-3.
But during halftime, Brown showed why Texas leaped at the chance to pay him $750,000 annually while eating the $1.8 million it owes Mackovic over the next three years. Brown laid it out plain and simple to his players. "I wasn't going to put up with it," Brown said later. "I said, 'If any of you are going to put up with it, you can do something else. Sixty-five hundred people came from Texas to watch us play, and they missed the first half.' "
The Longhorns scored four second-half touchdowns. Despite losing 49-31, they quashed the Rout 66 jokes they had heard for a year. "I saw a lot of life, a lot of energy," Texas middle linebacker Dusty Renfro said of his teammates. "I'm really proud of them. They fought to the last second."
Almost everyone left the refurbished Rose Bowl (pink chair-back seats: a comfort do, a fashion don't) happy. Longhorns tailback Ricky Williams had rushed for 160 yards and three touchdowns, keeping his name alive in the Heisman Trophy talk with that of UCLA quarterback Cade McNown, who had completed 20 of 30 passes for 339 yards and three touchdowns. Bruins fans reveled in UCLA's 11th consecutive victory, a school record, and had found a new star in redshirt freshman flanker Freddie Mitchell, a Lakeland, Fla., native who turned aside interest from Florida and Florida State because he wanted to go to school in a big city. On a pass off of a reverse, Mitchell fired a 34-yard scoring strike to Brian Poli-Dixon to start the deluge and caught a 79-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. He also rushed once for 30 yards. Said Mitchell, who had been hearing skeptics say he hadn't proved himself in a college game, "I stomped that right into the ground."