Horn Blowers

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January 13, 2006
Horn Blowers

by Ric Sweeney

It was going to be soooooo easy. Hire an offensive-minded coach. Draft Reggie Bush. Stock up on offensive linemen in the draft and free agency. Jettison Charley Casserly to some remote peninsula on some undiscovered string of islands in some long-forgotten body of water and viola! With just a few tweaks this offseason, our 2-14 train wreck of a team was going to get back on the road to respectability.

And then Vince Young had to throw a monkey wrench into the proceedings.

Now the Texans’ offseason is being threatened by a tidal wave of burnt-orange rhetoric. Joining the committee to appoint Vince Young the Greatest Human Being in the Universe of Ever is the Houston Better Draft Vince Young (heretofore, the Greatest Human Being in the Universe of Ever) Or Else campaign.

If you haven’t yet noticed, Longhorn alumni tend to be vociferous, opinionated and quite passionate about their alma mater. They’re also endlessly obnoxious and insufferable. They’re obnoxiously insufferable. And you’re going to hear from them a lot in the months leading up to the draft now that their savior has decided to go pro. And I mean a lot.

I know this because it won’t be the first time they’ve made their presence known concerning the local football team. They seem hell-bent on turning the Texans’ roster into some kind of postgraduate extension of their university.

I first came upon their lot in 2002 when more than a few of them were convinced taking a seventh round flier on their Rudy-like quarterback, Major Applewhite, would help generate interest in the NFL’s newest franchise, as if generating interest was a concern for the team back in those waywardly innocent times. They were back at last year’s draft, in much greater numbers, jumping up and down when Longhorn Derrick Johnson fell into the Texans’ lap and the team passed, making Charley Casserly public enemy number one within Austin city limits.

While the Applewhite nattering bordered on asinine, I’ll be the first to admit that their seemingly endless rants about Johnson had more than a twinge of legitimacy, considering he had been a really productive college linebacker, and the Texans’ linebacking corps remains, to this day, one of the worst units in the entire history of football. Or the world. But they wouldn’t let it go. They then roared back to life months later when Houston had the audacity to release former Texas wideout Sloan Thomas, marking the first time in NFL history that any fan had ever debated how to fill the 53rd spot on a team’s roster.

But those were mere tune-ups for the Vince Young onslaught. Like a band of PETA zealots, they’re threatening to spill burnt orange all over our swanky proceedings in an attempt to drown out all rational thought and debate. Vince Young is the pick. Period. End of discussion.

Of course, what’s funny about all their blathering is that while they wage an endless campaign to make Young the Texans’ second franchise quarterback in four years, they seem completely oblivious to the fact that Young’s departure from their beloved campus makes defense of their cherished national title about as likely as Johnny Carson guest-hosting The Tonight Show this year. But they’ll jump off that bridge and sink to the bottom on the Brazos River later. For now, they have a quarterback to over hype, and they will stop at nothing to see Young validate their own existence by being the first pick in this year’s draft, using any and all means necessary to make it happen: intimidation, hyperbole, lying, belittling.

Already, they’ve threatened to cancel their season tickets. I’ve seen others declare that passing on Young would rank as the single greatest blunder of all-time. Doing so will haunt the franchise for years, lump Bob McNair into the same category as Bud Adams, and doom the franchise to a lifelong second class existence.

They’ve also conveniently recast Young’s great season as the greatest single individual accomplishment in the history of mankind. Move over, Guttenberg! They’ll try and convince you that Young routinely runs up 467 yards of total offense each and every weekend as he did in the Rose Bowl (when, in fact, he averaged 290 the past two years) and that those numbers will, of course, translate entirely to the NFL. Oh, and don’t you dare make the mistake of comparing Young to Michael Vick – did Michael Vick ever win a national championship?!

Also, this just in: Apparently Reggie Bush is overrated, primarily because he played in the weak Pac-10, not the mighty Big 12, where he would have faced powerhouses like Kansas and Baylor. By the way, that Young’s crowning moment came against USC, which just happens to call the previously dis’ed Pac-10 home, is irrelevant because, well, if you haven’t yet figured it out, Vince Young is the Greatest Human Being in the Universe of Ever and the ‘85 Chicago Bears could have lined up last Wednesday night and Young would not have been stopped.

In other words, Longhorn fans have replaced Cowboy fans as the most infuriating, unbearable group around.

Which is not to say Young isn’t the best choice for the Texans; he may very well be. Choosing between him and Bush is like being offered $1.39M or $1.4M – one is obviously more than the other… but the bottom line is that no matter which amount you choose, you’re still going to be a millionaire. So the Texans are in a win-win situation, choosing between Young and Bush, which is why it’s imperative they don’t allow the avalanche of Young supporters to sway them.

They have to work these guys out, put them through every conceivable motion, and pick the right guy. When Paul Tagliabue steps to the podium in April, there cannot be any doubt about their selection. If it takes them every single minute up until their deadline to decide, they need to proactively use that time. The Texans can’t miss on this pick.

Which means it has to come down to what’s best for the franchise, not the fan base. Young will, all good-natured ribbing aside, initially generate a walth of excitement; no doubt. And the Texans could use a jolt in that department. But Bush would do the same– I mean, he’s not exactly Justin Vargas. The guy won a Hesiman Trophy and generated the single best film of 2005 – his jaw-dropping high school greatest hits reel.

Because whoever they pick, in the end, even the mighty Vince Young won’t be immune to frustration and anger if they don’t live up to expectations. Like the team when it started, Young may be given a free pass up front. But local boy done good only goes so far. W’s, not zip codes, mean a lot more. Remember, Hakeem Olajuwon was local (relatively speaking) and fans turned on him until he Dream Shaked his way to consecutive championships. Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell, while not natives, have lived in Houston almost as long as Vince Young, and we’ve been trying to run them out of town this entire decade.

Bottom line: We want a winning product, not a feel good story, even if it comes with a side of Matthew McConaughey. Fortunately, it looks like an Aggie will have the final say in the Vince Young saga. And you know there’s not a chance Gary Kubiak’s going to enlist in Longhorn Nation.

Yes, Ric Sweeney went to Texas A&M. No, he doesn’t think Reggie McNeal would be a better pick than Vince Young. Much. (Just kidding).

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