Thursday, January 5, 2006

"The Drive": College Edition?

Rich Karlis kicks the game winning field goal for Denver in the '87 AFC title game (Tony Tomsic/Sports Illustrated)Vince Young celebrates the National Championship at the Rose Bowl.
Top: Rich Karlis's OT field goal in the '86 AFC championship game never would have happened without John Elway's "Drive"(Tony Tomsic/Sports Illustrated) Bottom: Vince Young authored his own drive last night (Deborah Cannon/Austin American Statesman)

Broncos fans will probably argue that the end of the Rose Bowl was more like "The Fumble": Pete Carroll Edition than "The Drive": College Edition.

Plus, no one would confuse the slightly damp field and unseasonably humid conditions of the Rose Bowl for old Municipal Stadium in the January cold with the wind coming of Lake Erie

And, yeah, Vince Young had a shorter field than John Elway.

But the singular-minded determination of the winning quarterback is the same. Like John Elway in the AFC championship game almost two decades ago, Vince Young willed the Texas Longhorns to victory last night in the Rose Bowl.

And in Young's defense, he willed them to the score that set up the game winning drive as well.

Also, just like the 1987 AFC Championship catapulted Elway to legend status, the 2006 Rose Bowl may have done the same for Young.

For those of you old enough to remember, Elway was perceived as a million-dollar brat who got to choose his team prior to "The Drive." Afterward, well, he was on his way to the Hall of Fame.

Young wasn't given his due by a lot of media people and bloggers (myself included), but it was for more on-field reasons. He was always second to someone before then. Second to Cedric Benson in importance last year, second to Oklahoma in the Big 12 prior to this year, Second-best QB in the nation behind Matt Leinart coming into this year.

This year, while he finally emerged from all the other "seconds", he still was percieved by a lot of people as the second best player in the country, as evidenced by the Heisman vote.

Reggie Bush was supposed to be the next legend in the making, not Vince Young.

Now, Vince Young is the legend in the making.

And he needs to go pro now to take advantage of it. His draft stock will never be higher than it is now and Vince's hometown Houston Texans have the first pick in the draft. Can you imagine what it would be like if he took the Texans to the Super Bowl? Or if he had an Elway-esque career in Houston where he wins a couple Super Bowls and is the face of that franchise for a decade or more?

I know, as a Cowboys fan, I can already picture him in the Ring of Honor, but I don't think he'd be around by the time the Cowboys are picking this year.

Wherever he goes, Vince Young is going to be great, and we're going to look back on this Rose Bowl as the place where it started.
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