Kirk Bohls

American-Statesman Staff

Column

Vince proved many (ahem, me) wrong

Posted August 29th, 2015

(Ralph Barrera / American-Statesman)
(Ralph Barrera / American-Statesman)

Beware, Southern Cal.

Beware of the slighted one, the one with the scowl, the unforgiving. Be on the lookout in just more than three weeks for a man possessed.

That would be Vince Young.

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Those are the words written in this column space on Dec. 10, 2005, after the Texas quarterback finished a hugely deflating second in the Heisman Trophy voting. (Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m sorry.)

Young was visibly miffed that night in New York City. No, more than miffed. He was ticked off.

Standing on the stage in front of about 100 reporters at the Hard Rock Cafe in Manhattan for a quick, impromptu press conference, the distraught, albeit angry, Young talked about how “disappointed” he was that he had let down his teammates, the entire city of Austin and his hometown of Houston. Everybody but the water boy.

USC’s Reggie Bush (left) won the 2005 Heisman Trophy over Texas’ Vince Young (right), but it was Young who ended up besting Bush a month later to win the national championship.
USC’s Reggie Bush (left) won the 2005 Heisman Trophy over Texas’ Vince Young, but it was Young who ended up besting Bush a month later to win the national championship.

“I remember that he was respectful and appreciative of the opportunity to be in New York for the Heisman,” recalled Tim Henning, the Heisman coordinator. “I also remember him enjoying the time with his family on the Friday night bus tour that we do of New York City.”

Still, Young wanted that 25-pound bronze statue. Wanted it badly. But then he wants to win everything there is to win.

And yes, a certain columnist who has apologized about 13,526 times — or is 13,527? — for voting Reggie Bush first instead of Young was sure that night that the junior Longhorn would be so motivated, so driven by the Heisman slight that he would channel all of that energy and anger into a quintessential performance in the Rose Bowl against Bush’s No. 1-ranked USC team. That’s what I wrote.

And I’ll continue to apologize for the vote as my ears get singed regularly about it, whether it’s at a Spurs playoff game or in the HEB fresh produce aisle. Young declined to be interviewed for our tribute to that team and glance back at that USC game. Had I the chance to re-vote, I would have definitely voted for Vince.

A month after the Heisman outcome, Vince did exactly what I thought he would do.

He out-USC-ed USC.

He didn’t beat the unbeatable Trojans singlehandedly. No, he had help from future NFLers like Jamaal Charles and Michael Griffin and Justin Blalock.

USC had its share of all-stars as well. Consider that every Trojans starter that night eventually played in the NFL except for three in the defensive backfield and the punter and the kicker. That’s pretty solid. An amazing 14 players, six that season, would be selected as first-team All-Americans. Names like Matt Leinart and LenDale White and Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews. Oh, and Bush.

But Texas had eight consensus All-Americans of their own on that team, four of them starters. So Vince didn’t do it alone.

Mack Brown and Vince Young. (Ralph Barrera / American-Statesman)
Mack Brown and Vince Young. (Ralph Barrera / American-Statesman)

However, his Heisman snub might have been just the extra fuel to propel Young into that jaw-dropping, 467-yard game that brought Texas its fourth national championship. He seemed supercharged after losing to Bush in a Heisman landslide — Young had just 79 first-place votes to Bush’s 784.

Bush announced in September 2010 that he had decided to forfeit the trophy because of extra benefits he and his family received. He returned it shortly thereafter; Henning said the trophy is kept at a location outside the Heisman Trust offices. “We do not disclose the exact location,” he said.

The Heisman Trust chose to vacate the award although I think it should have been given to Vince. I think he would have loved to have had it.

No one knows for sure the effect of that ceremony that December night. Maybe if Young had won, he’d have gotten fat and content on the banquet circuit. Maybe not, but he might not have had that extra zip, that special burst that separated him from most mortals on Jan. 4, 2006.

At Big 12 media days in Dallas last month, I ran into Leinart at the Omni Hotel and asked for his thoughts on that game a decade ago.

“I get asked about it all the time,” the USC quarterback said plaintively.

And your memories?

“It’s just too painful to talk about it.”

Understandably.

The Statesman's 2005 Heisman votes

Four American-Statesman staffers had Heisman votes in 2005 — Kirk Bohls, Olin Buchanan, Randy Riggs and Mark Rosner. How did they all vote?
Bohls(1) Bush(2) Young(3) Leinart
Buchanan(1) Young,(2) Bush(3) Leinart
Riggs(1) Young,(2) Bush(3) Leinart
Rosner(1) Bush(2) Young(3) Leinart

That memorable Rose Bowl game turned any number of times with huge momentum swings.

What if Bush hadn’t tried to lateral downfield and lost the fumble to Texas? What if Bush had been on the field, even as a decoy, when White was stuffed by Brian Robison, Aaron Ross and Michael Griffin on that crucial fourth-and-2? What if Pete Carroll hadn’t wasted USC’s final timeout on the 2-point conversion after Young’s go-ahead touchdown, and maybe had another down or two in the waning seconds? What if Vince had been a mortal that night?

On Heisman night in New York City, I wrote the following:

“It should be extremely interesting to see how Vince turns this rejection into motivation to show his best side in Pasadena. The best athletes do that. Turn defeat into victory, despair into delirium.

“The guess here is that Vince Young will play either the game of his life against the Trojans in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 4 or the nation could see a repeat of his performance against Texas A&M.

“I’m betting on the best.”

And Vince proved he was the best.

BUSH VS. YOUNG: HEAD TO HEAD

Comparing Bush’s and Young’s 2005 season stats — and national championship game performances:

Bush: Rushed for 1,740 yards and 16 TDs and 39 catches for 481 yards and 2 TDs. His average of 222.3 all-purpose yards a game led the nation, and the AP’s player of the year also won the Heisman Trophy, the Walter Camp Trophy and the Doak Walker Award.

Young: Passed for 3,036 yards and 26 TDs, and rushed for 1,050 yards and 12 more TDs to become the first player in UT history to pass and rush for more than 1,000 yards in the same season — and the first player in NCAA Division I history to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in the same season. Set a BCS title game record with 467 total yards. Also won that year’s Davey O’Brien Award.

Title game: In the national championship game, Bush had 13 carries for 82 yards and a TD and finished with 279 total yards and the one score. Young had 19 carries for 200 yards and 3 TDs (including the game-winner) and finished with a record 467 total yards and the 3 TDs. Young was the game’s MVP.

The 2005 Heisman Trophy vote

How the final ballots sorted out. Voting was conducted prior to the bowl season.
PlayerSchoolPositionYearTotalFirstSecondThird
Reggie BushUSCRBJr.2,5417848911
Vince YoungTexasQBJr.1,60879613145
Matt LeinartUSCQBSr.79718147449
Brady QuinnNotre DameQBJr.191721128
Michael RobinsonPenn StateQBSr.492729
A.J. HawkOhio StateLBSr.290323
DeAngelo WilliamsMemphisRBSr.261219
Drew OlsonUCLAQBJr.211214
Jerome HarrisonWashington StateRBSr.200412
Elvis DumervilLouisvilleDLJr. 9009

BOHLS ON THE HEISMAN (THROUGH THE YEARS)

Kirk Bohls’ thoughts on the 2005 Heisman Trophy vote — 10 years ago, five years ago and today.

Bohls, Dec. 2005: ‘All three are Heisman-worthy’

What Kirk Bohls wrote on Dec. 7, 2005 — the day of Bush’s Heisman victory — in regards to his ballot:

“It is with considerable anguish and more than a little discomfort that the top line of my 2005 Heisman Trophy ballot began with a name other than Vince Young.

“I’m sad to report that I penciled in Reggie Bush.

“For Longhorn fans, let me point out that it is not the same as writing in Saddam Hussein or, even worse, Brian Bosworth.

“My ballot read Bush-Young-Leinart. Those three could easily be interchanged in any order without fear of embarrassment. All three are Heisman-worthy

“But the meticulous Heisman folks frown upon ties and insist that just one name appear on the top line, and I went with Bush. In my opinion, the Southern California scoring machine will pry the trophy away from the equally deserving Young for one reason: Performance down the stretch.”

Bohls, Sept. 2010: ‘Give the little bronze man to Young’

What Bohls had to say after Bush’s Heisman was vacated by the Heisman Trust in September 2010:

“I’ve long maintained the Heisman Trophy is the most recognized and coveted award in all sports. As such, the eight-person board is doing college football and runner-up Vince Young a disservice by not declaring a winner for 2005.

“We are presuming Vince, Bush teammate Matt Leinart and every other collegian who received Heisman votes that season didn’t accept a single benefit from a booster or agent, and accepting that notion may require a huge, if troubling, leap of faith.

“The more responsible options were clear: Give the little bronze man to Young or at the very least, allow Heisman voters to recast their ballots.”

Bohls, Aug. 2015: ‘Had I the chance at a re-vote …’

What Bohls is saying now, looking back and at the big picture:

“Had I the chance at a re-vote, I would have definitely voted for Vince. A month after the Heisman outcome, Vince did exactly what I thought he would do. He out-USC-ed USC.”

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