UPDATE FROM PASADENA: Texas finds similarities to 2006 national championship

Jason Galloway

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. | On Jan. 4, 2006, Texas quarterback Vince Young took the Rose Bowl field with a chip on his shoulder. Having recently lost the Heisman Trophy to USC running back Reggie Bush, Young wanted nothing more than to hoist the trophy that really mattered by beating Bush’s Trojans for the national title.

Not only was Young successful, he put together one of the most spectacular bowl performances college football has ever seen.

Thursday’s BCS National Championship game is the first played in the Rose Bowl since Young’s heroic performance, but the venue is not the only thing in common from that 2006 game.

In this year’s game, Colt McCoy replaces Young, while another Heisman-winning running back, Mark Ingram, leads a No. 1 team into Pasadena to face the Longhorns.

According to Texas head coach Mack Brown, however, losing the Heisman is not something that motivates his players for a national championship game.

“If you ask Colt if he’d have rather won the Heisman or lost it, if you asked Vince, both of them would say I’d rather won it,” Brown said. “But I think when you go back and look at it, what motivation would you need to play a team like Alabama, a team like SC more than just to play for a national championship?”

Brown said McCoy was expecting to win the Heisman more last season when he broke the NCAA record for pass completion percentage in a season (77.6 percent), and so he was not as disappointed this year for being named a finalist and not receiving the award.

“Colt was more disappointed last year than he was this year because I think he felt like he had better numbers and had a better year,” Brown said. “I really don’t think with Colt as positive as he is, I don’t think that he would use a negative to motivate.”

Tradition a big part of national championship

What better of a venue to play this year’s BCS National Championship game than the Rose Bowl when the game’s opponents have combined for 16 national championships and 54 conference titles?

“This game is very important to both teams,” Brown said. “They’re historic programs in both cases. The history of the game is so important to both. Coach Royal is still alive and has things named after him. Coach Bryant still walks the halls at Tuscaloosa and he has things named after him.”

Brown said the tradition of the programs involved in this game sets it apart from some past championship games.

“Everybody that sees the ‘A’ and sees the Longhorns knows the programs, and that’s what makes this game so special,” he said.

Brown praises Saban

Brown praised Alabama head coach Nick Saban during his Wednesday morning press conference.

“He wins at everything he touches,” Brown said. “He gets it. He’s driven. He works very hard. His teams are very disciplined; they’re well-coached.”

Brown was impressed at how quickly Saban was able to turn around the Crimson Tide football program, taking a 6-6 team and turning it into a national title contender after just two seasons.

“I really admire what Nick has done,” Brown said. “I just think when you see what he does, you just admire the way he handles his business, the way he runs his program. He’s in charge. He’s confident, and his teams play like that.”