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Texas fans celebrate championship, send off Young

1/15/2006 - Texas Longhorns

AUSTIN, Texas -- With fireworks and a final send-off for
quarterback Vince Young, more than 50,000 Texas fans turned out
Sunday night to celebrate the Longhorns' national championship.

Texas' 41-38 win over Southern California in the Rose Bowl gave
the Longhorns their first outright title since 1969. Stepping up to
the podium on the field at Royal Memorial Stadium, coach Mack Brown
flashed the two-fingered "Hook 'em" sign as fans cheered.

"This is one night we can hook 'em and hold down the little
finger, because we're No. 1," Brown said.

The ceremonies included highlights of the undefeated 2005
season, plus the national championship seasons of 1963 and 1969.
Brown also paid tribute to the coach of those championship teams,
Darrell Royal.

Young, named MVP of the Rose Bowl for his 200 yards rushing, 267
yards passing and three touchdowns, used the 1-hour event as a
chance to thank fans who watched him compile a 30-2 record as a
starter.

Young, who announced four days after the Rose Bowl that he'll
skip his senior season to enter the NFL draft, cradled the crystal
Bowl Championship Series trophy before thanking Texas'
"beautiful" fans and his teammates.

"We thank you a lot," Young said as the crowd chanted his
name. "I love y'all and thank you for your support."

Joining Brown and players on stage were U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey
Hutchison, R-Texas, and Gov. Rick Perry. Hutchison was a
cheerleader at Texas when the Longhorns won the 1963 title, while
Perry was a yell leader at rival Texas A&M when he was a student.

Perry, who wore a burnt orange shirt beneath his blazer, told
the crowd that even an Aggie like him could be proud of the
championship.

"University of Texas went to California and beat the hell out
of Southern California," Perry said. "Mack Brown, you are the
man."

The UT campus took on a game-day atmosphere hours before the
event, with thousands of fans arriving early to tailgate and stake
out a place in line outside the stadium.

At least 3,000 fans began the "Texas Fight" chant more than
two hours before the official party started. Lines quickly grew so
long that officials opened the gates earlier than expected because
the revelers were impeding traffic.

Gayle Shannon, 42, of Bastrop, arrived with her friends five
hours early and set up a spread of wings, chips, sandwiches, hot
dogs and beer in the bed of a pickup truck.

"We were worried that we wouldn't be able to see our beloved
Longhorns," Shannon said.

Many fans around the stadium wore white T-shirts with "Texans
for Vince" in orange lettering. Many others, such as 10-year-old
Darrell Limuel Jr., of Round Rock, wore Young's No. 10 jersey.

Limuel's father, Darrell, said Young was making the right
decision by going pro.

"I'd like to see him stay here and win another championship,
but I respect him and sure appreciate what he's done," he said.

But unlike Young, offensive lineman Justin Blalock is coming
back to the Longhorns. Blalock used his time at the podium to
announce he'd return for his senior year, whipping the crowd into
more applause.

That gave Brown a chance to address next season. The Longhorns,
who have the nation's longest winning streak at 20 games, return to
spring practice on Feb. 24.

"We're not going to rebuild, we're going to reload," Brown
said.

The Bowl Championship Series title game next season is the
Fiesta Bowl. Senior nose tackle Rod Wright told the returning
Longhorns he'd like a reason to attend.

"I better be on the sideline of the Fiesta Bowl next year,"
Wright said.