Culpepper's Commentary: Coaches Convention

I have been to over 36 American Football Coaches Association Conventions, but I have never seen such a positive spirit toward college football as I found at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas recently.

Saturated with 24 hour sports broadcasting on television and radio, so many times the hype is bigger than the games, but in this bowl season there were so many high quality contests that the feeling in the air was, "We're doing something right and our game is just as good as the NFL's."

College coaches were proud of their overtime rules as compared to the NFL's Sudden Death. College coaches were proud of the clock stopping on first downs and most emphatically supported the college rules on defensive bumping of receivers before the ball is in the air. In their opinion, it took away judgment calls by officials which slowed down the NFL games to a crawl.

Every Texas high school coach that I talked to bragged on the Rose Bowl game and the statement about them made by coach Mack Brown on national television on the awards platform in Pasadena after the game: "Mack Brown appreciates us sending him players and we're proud of Mack."

Here is the buzz: Coach Greg Davis of the Longhorn staff will go with whichever NFL team drafts Vince Young as quarterback coach or offensive coordinator. In a way it makes sense: "If you spend millions on a player with a certain style, why not hire the coach that knows how to handle him and use the exact same strategy."

From college coaches to high school coaches, Vince Young's decision to turn pro was applauded: "How much better could Vince be than to outplay the two top draft picks Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush on the same field."

The opinion of lots of college coaches is that they would take LenDale White over Bush if they were the Houston Texans. As one of them said, "Bush is like Julius Jones of Dallas. White is a hammer."

I talked to most of the Texas staff and believe me, they were surrounded by admirers. They deserved praise for a 13-0 season and brilliant win in the Rose Bowl.

Coach Mac McWhorter told me to watch out for Tony Hills, the 6-foot-6, 295-pound sophomore offensive left tackle. With a solid off-season and spring training he believes the Alief Elsik grad can fill into U.S.S. Scott's huge spot.

Coach McWhorter loves the play of Lyle Sendlein and Kasey Studdard and demonstrated Justin Blalock's block on USC's blitzing safety on the final offensive play for Texas when it was fourth-and-five from the Trojan 8 yard line. Blalock threw the safety all the way to Sendlein which opened a huge hole in front of Young.

Bruce Chambers was a hero to his fellow high school coaches since David Thomas made 10 catches. In jest, his Longhorn coaching buddy Ken Rucker told him, "Bruce has to start all over."

Coach Rucker was so proud of Selvin Young and his relationship with Jamaal Charles. The rookie Charles received nothing but encouragement and support from Selvin in what could have been an awkward situation. Because of injuries this relationship was most beneficial to the success of the Longhorns.

Mack Brown addressed 4,000-plus coaches on "offensive strategy at Texas." It was a top-notch presentation in which coach Brown told stories of his previous experiences at North Carolina and Oklahoma. He emphasized the guidelines under which he has built the Texas program and outlined the three types of actions on which the Texas offense used to win a national championship: the zone play and zone read, the isolation run with bootleg action and the counter series.

From what I gathered from the Texas staff, in their minds the momentum is on their side and they intend to retool, refine and reload. Everything they prepare for from this point will be that second Saturday in September when the Ohio State Buckeyes come to Austin. The off-season, the spring practice and the fall drills will focus on who and what can win that game.

Former trainer Frank Medina's old sign near the Texas lockerroom is applicable: "Hats off to the past, roll up your sleeves for the future."

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