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Bill Little: The Dreamwagon Sputters at the Finish Line

PASADENA, Calif. – Almost since the beginning of time, there has been a great debate over "why bad things happen to good people."

Coming this spring from Bevo TV: The Existentialist.

There have been books written about it, sermons preached about it, philosophical discussions about it. The great preacher Gerald Mann once said that if he made it to a place called heaven, he wanted to sit on the front row and ask God a lot of questions.

Starting with: Why does HenryJames touch himself at work?

One of them would be about the 2009 BCS National Championship game played Thursday in the Rose Bowl.


On a bright, seemingly perfect day in Southern California, Texas and Alabama met for college football’s National Championship game.

For me, the article really begins here: A pileup of clichéd adjectives preceding a geographic destination where the latest titanic clash for the Texas Men’s Football Team will take place in history.

And perhaps never in the history of the sport has a game of such magnitude witnessed such a dramatic turn of events, or a catastrophic change.

I’m not one for hyperbole, but Colt’s injury will go down with Pearl Harbor as one of the unfairest things ever.

Throughout the marketing leading up to the game, the Rose Bowl Parade folks who (lavish us folksy administrators with caviar, drugs, and women) do such a great job of hosting a big game had used four words to banner the game: Passion. Tradition. Strength. Honor. From the moment the teams rolled into the stadium, Texas seemed to hold the edge in all of those.

Yeah, but Fate fucked us in the ass. It trumps all other time-honored traditions in the Bill Little catalogue when it wants to.

First, its passion was unsurpassed.

Yes, the Texas fans banging in the port-o-potty at the ESPN Tailgate brought it alright.

The Longhorns and their quarterback Colt McCoy were prepared for this game as perhaps never before.

Not since all the way back in 2006!

With two coaches who had worked closely with Alabama’s coach Nick Saban, they had a good idea of what to expect from Alabama. McCoy has spent hours watching video, getting ready for the game he had dreamed of playing in his whole life.

Jesus decided he wasn’t ready. It happens.

Tradition began arriving just about the time the Longhorns’ team buses made their way through an orange throng of thousands at the Rose Bowl games a little more than two hours before the game.

Tradition. Began. Arriving. Then it veni vidi vicid it’s way into the locker room before finally passing out in a nearby sand trap with a tallboy in hand just before kickoff.

The "big guns" had come in support of their little brothers. Around 20 former players, all now stars in the NFL, made their way down the ramp to the field. Ricky Williams, who won the Heisman Trophy was there, along with Jamaal Charles and David Thomas. Jonathan Scott towered his way down, wishing he could suit up and block along with Kasey Studdard one more time. There were Derrick Johnson, Michael Huff, Brian Orakpo, Michael Griffin, Aaron Ross, Ahmard Hall – the list went on.

Let’s be honest, they came for VY’s party.

And every quarterback who had ever had a significant number of starts for Mack Brown at Texas was on that field. Not only was Colt McCoy taking his warm-up throws, but Chris Simms had come coast to coast for the game, and perhaps the greatest player in Rose Bowl history, Vince Young was there. So, too, of course, was Longhorn assistant coach Major Applewhite.

Just throw Chance Mock under the Dreamwagon and slam it in reverse!

"I would have settled," Major would say the morning after the game, "for just one."

Before his self-edit, this sentence originally read: "I", Major started to say, "would have settled", before drifting off misty-eyed with forlorn freckles, "for just one."

And that is where our story begins.

How I wish it were so, Bill …

Colt McCoy had been the feel good story in college football over the last couple of years.

Losing to Tech on the last play of the game and watching the Sooners collect a Heisman, Big 12 Title, and national championship berth felt good in ways that only Danish masochists, Bill Little, and Trips Right are familiar with.

He had told the Texas coaches, as a 170-pound-wringing-wet skinny kid, that he wanted to lead them to a National Championship. Now, he was about to play that game. He had said he was playing it for the little kids he worked with in Peru, and for his late cousin, a Marine who gave his life after fighting for his country. It was for all the Texas fans as well, but it was more than that. Colt McCoy had stood for everything that was right about being a student-athlete. He had touched people in ways too many to describe.

This is bordering on Tebow levels of akward.

And he was totally prepared with an excellent game plan to face the Crimson Tide.

Greg Davis was about to p3wn Nick Saban. Again.

So when he took the field after the Longhorns special teams had picked off an Alabama pass in Tide territory, he was ready. And from the first snap, he could see the future.

"I shall lose all nerve sensation in my right arm on the fourth play of the game."

Everything that he had expected and anticipated was right there in front of him.

Except that whole freak hit numb arm thingy.

And then four plays into the game, everything changed.

But he saw it coming!!

McCoy ran a simple option play and was tackled. He felt no pain.

I did.BRU-TAL.

He wasn’t in a pile. But when he stood up, he knew that he was hurt. He took himself out of the game, and headed to the sidelines with an injured shoulder. He went to the locker room and took off his pads and thought the numbness would go away, like when you hit your funny bone or something. He watched the television sets in frustration at what he saw.

Garrett Gilbert had worked every day with the first-team offense, and he, too, was prepared – although nothing, absolutely nothing

(except perhaps more snaps during the regular season while padding a 30 point lead…)

... could prepare a true freshman backup quarterback with limited playing time for assuming the responsibility of trying to lead his team in a National Championship game. Suddenly, a coaching staff that had crafted a game plan for the winningest starting quarterback in the history of college football

See what he did there?

... were having to adjust one for a young man whose last start came at Lake Travis High School a year before.

Strength, the most ironic of the Bowl words,

We have a winner! My Bill Little Non-Sequitur Lost Analogy Decoder Ring just went berserk.

... became a wicked wild card in the Longhorns search for a national title. With McCoy’s strength sapped, the Texas defense played heroically. Kickers Justin Tucker and John Gold did their work valiantly to keep the Crimson Tide at bay. And the Longhorns offense slowly began to find a new direction behind their unexpected new leader.

Fate joined the fray, but not on the Longhorns side.

Ahh … the uninvited fifth word!

Just before half, a shovel pass that traveled no more than four feet bounced off the hands of D.J. Monroe. Beyond his was an open field that the speedster might have created something very special in.

Or on top of.

Instead, the ball popped up twice, and an Alabama player grabbed it and ran it in for a touchdown.

Can we just go ahead and call it like it is? Marcel Dareus is the fucking devil. That atheist Scipio Tex saw this coming.

On the first two possessions, without McCoy, Texas had scored two field goals. Now, at intermission, it was 24-6.

Intermission? What is this, a broadway play? Strength. Honor. Tradition. Gays. Chris Hall wins the Toney Award!

It was then that the final word of the 2009 BCS National Championship game emerged – honor. More than anything, this team had earned that. They had won 17 straight games, and hadn’t lost in two years. They had marched with class through college football in a decade unmatched in Texas history. Now, down by 18 points to the nation’s number one team, they came back on to the field for one final 30 minutes of football in the 2009 season. Gilbert began finding Jordan Shipley and Marquise Goodwin. Tre’ Newton and Monroe turned in key runs. And the defense, led by Lamarr Houston, Sergio Kindle and Roddrick Muckelroy just kept making stops. An onsides kick by Tucker worked.

It WORKED? That’s all you got, Bill? No superlative for the Best.Kickoff.Ever? At the very least, it was stunningly brilliant against a backdrop of palm trees and orange painted happy faces. Dude kicked it off the Bama player and it bounced right back to us. I was apoplectic with special teams pride and honor.

Twice Gilbert found the courageous Shipley for touchdowns, and then for a two-point conversion.

Buckner, imo.

With a little over six minutes left in the game, it was 24-21. Gilbert had found a rhythm, and Shipley, with 10 catches for 122 yards, had every reason to be chosen the offensive player of the game.

It was a photo finish between Shipley and Malcolm Williams.

On the sidelines, Lt. Col. Greg Gadson, the soldier who had been an inspiration to the country and the Longhorns, watched. It was Gadson who had said, "you can’t control your circumstances, you only get to choose how you deal with them."

The doctors and trainers had told McCoy that he had played his last down as a college player. They wanted him to take off his pads, and his uniform. But warriors don’t go down that easily. "No," he said. "I will go back to the sideline with my pads on and wear a headset and try to help Garrett and be a cheerleader."

TMZ: Colt McCoy wishes he could have been a cheerleader.

With a little over three minutes left, Texas got a final chance. On the Texas side of the field, every person believed there was one miracle left for this magical team that had won 26 of its last 27 games. But it was not to be.

F that! Who exactly is driving this Dreamwagon?!

As Gilbert looked for a receiver and started to throw, he was hit, fumbled, and Alabama recovered at the three.

Still, it wasn’t over.

When your wife reaches in her cowboy boot and pulls out a secret, undisclosed whisky stash, it’s fucking over.

Will Muschamp’s defense stopped the Tide twice outside the goal, and it wasn’t until a TV replay confirmed that running back Mark Ingram had gotten the ball across the goal line plane, that the dream ended. Another interception sealed the final score of 37-21. For the first time in three trips, Texas had lost on the Rose Bowl field.
Passion. Tradition. Strength. Honor.

'Fate' says Ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha!

What we are left with is the burning question at the beginning.

What causes hemmorhoids?

When you lose, you lose.

Skip Bayless' epitaph?

It can be because you weren’t prepared, or because somebody is simply better. There are often a myriad of reasons.

My computer machine is officially smoking in contempt. THERE CAN BE MYRIAD REASONS. Strength. Tradition. GRAMMAR.

But in this one, everything was in place for a victory until McCoy inexplicably was injured on the fourth offensive play of the game for Texas.

Dreamwagon sputtering ... insert TV stats!

The game was viewed by a crowd in the Rose Bowl of almost 95,000 and a television audience approaching 31 million viewers. The final rankings showed respect for the Longhorns as both polls ranked them second in the country. But whatever team loses in a National Championship game or a Super Bowl, it hurts a lot.

Scipio brings Spider Man band-aids to every Rose Bowl.

When you are so close to the prize, you want it desperately. So sure, it hurts to lose. But in this one, you hurt more for the guy who never got to play the game he had so dreamed of.

Yes, this helped defer the pain and tripled the bar tab. You couldn't convince me we lost just a few hours after the game.

He had earned the right to stand there on that field, a winner, with confetti and all the aura of a champion all around. Most of all, he had earned the right to ride off into the sunset, just like the heroes in the old western movies.

Greg McElroy was awesome in The Great Train Robbery.

Colt’s great faith has sustained him to this place, and it will, in time, comfort him again.

If Tebow is willing to heal him …

It is hard to understand why bad things happen to good people. In the book of Deuteronomy, in the Bible,

Actually it’s from The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown but whatever.

you read the story of Moses, who was one of the greatest of God’s servants. As the people he had led from the wilderness approached the Promised Land, God takes Moses to a place where he can see the Promised Land – he can see it, but he never gets to go there.

It’s like the seventh level of Call of Duty 2: Modern Warfare. Shit is hard.

Hard to understand why Moses, one of the greatest figures in the Old Testament, didn’t get to finish like he wanted. There is really not a good answer. What we know is, a guy named Joshua took over and did it. Let’s not go overboard here with analogies of similar stories.

Whoa! I think the editor’s comments accidentally got published. NOT COOL. When it comes to going overboard for analogies, we’re Mel Gibson with a perma-boner for Goldy.

But if you want to work on that bad-things-to-good people, maybe that’s the plan for Gilbert, or one of those who will follow.


But Moses is remembered as a great and righteous man, a man of God who was the best at what he did. Kind of like a skinny little kid from the Callahan Divide country of West Texas. A guy named Colt McCoy.

Good call. When the flock is thoroughly confused, quote the Bible.

When the game was over, and the celebration for Alabama had ended, the lights on the historic stadium glistened against the press box with the huge banner of the marketing words that had been all over Los Angeles.

Guns. Traffic. Pollution. Deficit. Assholes.

But for the Texas Longhorns of 2009, those were not the only things that would make a fan base love them and a nation come to respect them.

In the end, it would certainly be about "passion, tradition, strength and honor." But most of all, it would be about their heart.

A-fucking-men, Billy.