KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mack Brown thinks the term "legend” is tossed around too loosely in reference to college football players these days.
But the Texas coach doesn't hesitate to label his former quarterback, Vince Young, as a legend. Of course, it's rightfully earned from Brown's perspective; his only national championship came with Young at the helm in 2005.
Now Brown must prove he can get his team back among the nation's elite — or even back to the Big 12 title game — without Young.
"Vince was an unbelievable football player,” Texas Tech senior defensive back Daniel Charbonnet said. "When Texas had Vince, there was a different feeling about that team. You knew they were special and he was special.”
Outside of the 2004 and 2005 seasons, Young's sophomore and junior seasons, Brown's Texas teams won between nine and 11 games every year. But they never won a Big 12 title or went to a BCS game, instead making regular trips to the Cotton and Holiday Bowls.
And this season doesn't look to be set up for Texas' return to the top.
"It's tough to get there, but we have those expectations for ourselves,” Longhorn quarterback Colt McCoy said. "We have a ridiculously hard schedule.”
And that's accurate. The ‘Horns host Arkansas and visit upstart Colorado before facing Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl the second Saturday in October.
The Red River Rivalry is followed by a visit from Big 12 North favorite Missouri, then road trips to face Texas Tech and Kansas. That makes several tough tests for the Longhorns' young, inexperienced secondary.
Offensively, McCoy has limited experience around him at the skill positions, where Limas Sweed and Jamaal Charles have moved on to the NFL, and an offensive line that was battered by injuries and opponents last year.
But Brown still doesn't feel his team is too far off.
"I think in modern-day college football, the good teams are really close, always,” the coach said.