Texas vs Alabama: How an injury changed the course of two College Football programs

Colt McCoy’s injury in the 2009-10 season BCS National Championship changed the trajectory of the two programs for the foreseeable future

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Cam Meyer, Sports Editor

This college football season, Texas fans were experiencing deja vu as starting Quarterback Quinn Ewers was significantly injured on a dirty hit by Alabama Defensiveman Dallas Turner. That situation happened well over a month ago and Ewers is back with the Longhorns as they just came off of a 49-0 win against Red River rival Oklahoma, but what if Ewers did not have a month to recover and was in the biggest game of his career in the National Championship.

This was the exact situation for a young, up-and-coming Colt McCoy back in January 2010. Texas finished with a 12-0 regular season record, winning the Big 12, finishing 2nd overall in the final AP poll, and ranked 3rd of 120 teams. Texas went into the BCS Championship game against another undefeated team, the Crimson Tide. 

Alabama had a start-studded offense that consisted of Mark Ingram II, who won game MVP after scoring two touchdowns on 22 carries for 116 yards, Trent Richardson, Julio Jones, Rolando McClain – Defensive MVP, Mark Barron, and Dont’a Hightower, all of which ended up drafted to the NFL in following years. Texas’ offense on the other hand didn’t have as many stars as the Crimson Tide did, but they had one man and he went on to be, in my opinion, the greatest player of all time at his position, and that man was Kicker Justin Tucker.

McCoy’s injury occurred in the first three and a half minutes of the first quarter. Alabama Defensive Lineman Marcell Darius stated in an ESPN College Gameday video package that he knew it was a hard hit because “He could feel the effects of it a week later.” Alabama went on to win the National Championship, but what was the effect of this outcome over the next decade?

Let’s take a look back because up until this National Title win, Alabama had not won a National Championship in over 20 years. How did this program that was just getting on its feet turn into one of the most prominent dynasties that rivals the best in all of sports? 

While Legendary Head Coach Nick Saban was just starting his run at Alabama, historic Texas Head Coach Mack Brown’s tenure in Austin was coming to a close. Since his first BCS Championship appearance and win in 2009-10, Saban has turned into College Footballs Bill Belichick. With an excellent recruitment class year in and year out, Saban has racked up achievements such as eight bowl wins, two BCS Championship wins, and most importantly five College Football Championship appearances with three wins to show for it.

Texas has been lackluster to say the least. While the Longhorns are still respected as a Power 5 program, there has been very little success since the 2009-10 season BCS Championship loss. Since that loss, five of their twelve seasons have ended with a losing record, and while they are 6-2 in bowl games, only one of them was a part of the New Year’s Six, when they played in the 2019 Sugar Bowl against Georgia, where they achieved their only double-digit win during that timespan. Also since 2009, the Longhorns have only had eight All-Americans, none since 2020, while the Crimson Tide have had 33 total selections, including three on their 2021 team.

Just three years after Texas’ BCS Championship appearance, Head Coach Mack Brown would resign with the team, just to realize that the winning culture he helped create was no longer present in Austin.

McCoy’s injury, Texas’ loss, and Alabama’s dynasty becoming established changed the trajectory for the two programs going into the seasons ahead. With recruits that might have gone to Texas ending up with the powerhouse Bama, it just raises the question of “What if.”