Inside Texas Blog: Alumni Tournament

If the former players of the most storied programs in college football lined up and played for their schools, who would win? Indeed, a fine sports debate, but thought of as only a debate. Clearly it's not possible to answer that question. Right?

The ratings, the revenue, the interest. It would all be there. It would be amazingly profitable, develop even further the great rivalries in college football and be talked about feverishly by the fans. I'm talking about an alumni tournament. The former greats of Michigan squaring off against the former greats of Ohio State and on up the brackets against other schools.

Who would win if the best players from Miami took on former Tennessee Volunteers. The Hurricanes would have a much stronger defense and a nearly unstoppable running game, with Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis and Willis McGahee to name a few, but what about at quarterback? Miami would likely be lead by Ken Dorsey while Tennessee would have the leadership and golden arm of Payton Manning and don't forget a running back tandem of Jamal Lewis and Travis Henry ain't too shabby.

Perhaps we're starting too large. How about just two teams. A Texas-Texas A&M alumni game. The great players and coaches of the past could all be on hand.

Speaking of coaches, who would coach the teams? You could have the current coaches handle the squads, or, you could have the great coaches from the schools' storied histories. Darrell Royal could put on the headset and stare across the field at Jackie Sherrill and his Texas A&M team.

Logic would seem to dictate that the Longhorns would have a clear advantage in this game, given the recent thrashings that Texas has laid on its in-state rival, but when we look at the alumni available for this match-up, we find that the separation is not a great as one might suspect.

With the ability to line up Sam Adams and Rocky Bernard at defensive tackle, the Aggies would be hard to run on (Texas A&M actually has an astounding SEVEN defensive tackles in the NFL). Plus, the Aggies would have dangerous deep threats in Robert Ferguson and Dante Hall.

Quarterback would be an advantage for Texas. Texas A&M would likely line up Reggie McNeal under center again, while Texas would have to decide between NFL veteran (boy, that sounds weird to say) Chris Simms and Rose Bowl (both of ‘em) hero Vince Young. Simms would likely start because of his experience, but Young would definitely get his shot and hey, don't forget about Major Applewhite. Fans in No. 11 jerseys would certainly be calling out the familiar chant of "put in Major!"

Naturally the schools could not field a full depth chart with NFL players alone and A&M is just short of putting a full starting line-up on the field, given that Jason Glenn of the Miami Dolphins and Warrick Holdman of the Washington are the only two Texas A&M linebackers on an NFL roster (of course, Texas only makes the cut if you count Minnesota long-snapper Cullen Loeffler as a center). Essentially anyone who was a letterman for either team would be eligible to play. That's a lot of eligible players, so a tryout or roster selection would be necessary…or maybe not.

Maybe everyone could be on the roster, even if they don't play in the game. Imagine 300 former Longhorn lettermen running through the tunnel and onto the field at DKR through a giant ‘T' formed by the 700-member Longhorn Alumni Band. Imagine Jerry Sisemore donning the burnt orange one more time and trotting out of the tunnel. Imagine James Street coming in to take the final kneel.

Every single year might be too much. There would be the issue of participation. Players making millions of dollars in NFL wouldn't want to risk getting hurt playing in an exhibition game every year and it wouldn't be quite as special if it was a yearly thing.

Here's my proposition: Every four years Texas and Texas A&M play a charity alumni game. They would alternate between Kyle Field and Royal-Memorial Stadium. Even playing it every four years would generate an incredible amount of revenue in ticket sales, advertising, TV contracts and more. All of the proceeds would go to a joint charity founded by the two schools. Winning the game would be a point of pride for each team's fans and anticipation that would exist for the event is almost unimaginable.

Am I dreaming too big? Is it impossible? Perhaps. But still, just imagine…

What do you think?

Old-School Offense
Bill Frisbie - Jul 5, 2006

How much of the record-breaking success of the 2005 offense should be attributed to Vince Young, and how much credit should go to Coordinator Greg Davis? And what can we expect from the offense this season?

On the surface, the question presents a chicken-or-the-egg scenario just because there's no discounting the season-defining impact VY had on the offense. There have been so many superlatives directed at Vince, but the word I would choose to describe his overall effect is 'transcendent.' In other words, everything changed -- and anything could happen -- by his mere presence on the field. Run the same plays without Vince, and the offense (in all probability) doesn't shatter school records that stood for 35 years. At the same time, Texas probably doesn't run those same plays without Vince.

Or will it?

An underlying concern among the fan-base has to do with whether Texas will revert to the play-not-to-lose offenses that we often saw against quality teams before Mack Brown and Davis learned to trust Vince.

The pre-season rhetoric has indicated that there won't be a seismic shift from last year's schemes, but that the play selection may be noticeably expanded by season's end. The buzz is that Colt McCoy has Major Applewhite-smarts and that strong-armed Jevan Snead is at least far enough ahead of the learning curve so that his head is no longer spinning. In other words, there's little reason to anticipate a mid-season massive makeover in offensive philosophy predicated by indecision at quarterback and a couple of ugly losses (as was the case in 2003).

Brown believes it is a widespread misperception that Vince ran the ball more in 2005. It just seemed that way, he believes.

"We didn't run Vince as much last year as we did the year before," Brown said. "It went kind-of unnoticed because there were games where he'd run quite a bit and then there were four or five games where we didn't run him at all because we didn't need to. What we have to decide now is what the quarterbacks will run. The Zone Read will be part of it. These quarterbacks are quick and athletic, and we feel like they can run some. We're not going to do a lot of changing in our offense."

Davis has said the offense won't be as explosive as last year, but that both quarterbacks can run the 2005 game plan. An emphasis in August camp is figuring out what each QB does best in order to incorporate it as the "feature play" in the game plan. But just because Texas can run those plays doesn't mean Texas will run those plays.

At times, Davis has resembled a freewheeling Mountain West offensive coordinator when facing the Rices and Missouris of the college football world. At times, his close-to-the-vest schemes against Oklahoma were enough to make Fred Akers look like a riverboat gambler. Does the sheer fact of three freshman QBs on campus indicate that the playcalling will become so conservative that it becomes a liability against, say, Ohio State?

My partner-in-crime Clendon Ross believes this year's offense won't so much be 'conservative' but rather 'deliberate.' In other words, we're looking at a high-percentage passing game that focuses on shorter and intermediate routes (in most games, a five-yard hitch becomes an explosive play with Texas' speed at WR) while the committee of running backs will pick up the slack in a rushing offense in which the QB was the program's leading ground-gainer in 2005.

I believe Davis will try to have the QBs playing so within themselves that both will look interchangeable in the early going. I think Texas will try to occasionally surprise a defense when the QB keeps on the zone read but, by and large, Davis will want the ball out of the hands of his freshman QB (and into the hands of his weapons) as quickly as possible. We'll see more emphasis on the RBs and FBs as receiving targets, and I think TE Jermichael Finley will be money. There will be at least one game where the most explosive running play will belong to FL Jordan Shipley on the end-around, but I've got my fingers crossed that the depth, experience and speed Texas has among its pass catchers (Limas Sweed, Quan Cosby, Billy Pittman, Nate Jones) will elevate the play of the QBs and, by extension, Davis' confidence in them.

Davis has to know that there isn't a game on the schedule that Texas can't win IF it doesn't shoot itself in the foot with costly turnovers. He has to know that Texas will field what should be its finest defense in nearly a quarter of a century, and that's part of why he continues to tell his QBs to "give us the chance to kick." That's why one of the primary criterion for getting separation in the quarterback derby is which freshman can move the chains while also protecting the football. We're not going back to three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust, but a Texas team that wins with a powerful running game and a Top 10 defense does have an old-school feel about it.

And if there is an old-school winning percentage, or even as old as last season, there will be few gripes about the offense, conservative or otherwise.

What do you think?

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