Longhorns Feeling Rose-y With BCS Bid

During the wilting heat of voluntary summer workouts, Longhorn football players adopted an unofficial slogan for the 2004 season: "BCS. Nothing less." Now, Texas will be featured in nothing less than the 'Granddaddy of Them All' when it faces Michigan in the 91st Rose Bowl on January 1.

Position coaches began notifying players at approximately 3 p.m. Sunday of Texas' first-ever BCS bid. Senior FS Phillip Geiggar immediately purchased roses for several of his teammates prior to meeting with members of the media on Sunday evening.

"Before the season we had a saying 'BCS. Nothing less' and to have it come true is really icing on the cake," said Geiggar. "To be on the first team to ever go to a BCS and to play this team is exciting."

Justin Blalock said he began speculating about Texas' bowl possibilities following California's closer-than-expected 26-16 win at Southern Mississippi. DT Rodrique Wright, meanwhile, had begun to resign himself to the possibility of another Cotton-pickin' New Years Day bowl game in Dallas where the Horns have played three of the past six seasons.

"For a second there I didn't think we were going to make it, and I had my mind set on the Cotton Bowl," Wright said, before adding, "I had a feeling that because (Cal) didn't beat (Southern Miss) convincingly, that we had a shot. They (voters) understood the different strengths of schedule."

By season's end, Texas had faced four teams in the final BCS standings (Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State) while winning three of those contests. Cal faced two BCS teams, falling just short against top-ranked USC and blowing past No. 19 Arizona State.

"This time we finally got over the hump, and it's a great feeling," Wright said. "This team deserves it. We are a different team than we have been in the past, and we showed our character this year in the last three games. We fought hard and we bounced back after losing to OU. That's just the story of this team."

Previously, the story of this team has been a series of near-misses on the BCS front despite posting four consecutive 10+ wins for the first time in program history.

"These kids have fought every year to get to the BCS," head coach Mack Brown said during a conference call late Sunday evening. Brown had just stepped off an airplane in New York City when AD DeLoss Dodds called him with the news. The Texas coach is in the Big Apple for the annual National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame dinner.

"We've been there and we've been there and the system just didn't work for them," Brown said of his players. "With the system like it is, the BCS is where you need to be if you want to be successful in college football."

Texas' recent history as a BCS also-ran allowed players to be empathetic toward the Golden Bears. Cal, of course, saw its bowl dreams dashed on the last weekend of the regular season just as the Horns did in 2003.

"I feel bad for them because they had a great season," SS Michael Huff said. "They feel the same way we did last year."

Added Wright, "My hat goes off to Cal, I know what they are feeling like. I just know that we are real deserving and finally got over the hump."

Wright's initial reaction to the news was one of relief which quickly became excitement.

"At first I felt like someone just lifted a bunch of weight off our shoulders," he said. "It is our turn. For two or three years we have been on the outside looking in. It is going to be fun, but we aren't going there to have fun."

Indeed, the Horns are going to face a 9-2 Michigan team that finished No. 13 in the final BCS ratings and is looking to bounce back from its season-ending loss to archrival Ohio State. The Rose Bowl marks the first time these two storied programs have met. Other than Notre Dame, Michigan and Texas have posted more wins than any other program in college football history.

"I grew up watching Michigan, so to be able to play these guys is an awesome feeling," senior FL Tony Jeffery said. "It makes everything that you have worked for worthwhile."

Note: Bill Frisbie contributed to this report.

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