Ford, Campbell, Clemens, and Williams. All were Players-of-the-Year in their respective sports. Four years after retiring its first ever basketball jersey number, The University of Texas will find itself in a position next season to retire another.
Like football, men's basketball has numerous organizations at season's end awarding player-of-the-year trophies. In 2007, Kevin Durant made it a clean sweep, picking up the hardware from each of the six major associations. Durant became the first freshman to ever accomplish the accolade feat, but surprised few in Austin (or Suitland, MD) in doing so. After all, No. 35 set so many new standards that he somehow made the incredible appear to be nothing more than merely routine.
Just as Durant elevated Texas' name, it is likely Texas will return in kind...ascending up in to the rafters.
Durant's individual success on the 40 acres began less than a year after another Longhorn departed campus, following a career that captured the hearts of fans and lifted the football program to the pinnacle of the sport. The question now is who will have their number retired first? And can the University even consider withholding the honor altogether from one or both of the athletes?
Vince Young won the Maxwell but (for now) fell short of the Heisman. Of those honored, only Roger Clemens enjoyed POY honors coupled with a National Championship. When it comes to honoring individuals, the University's track record so far reflects a focus on individual accomplishments. Ricky stayed all four years and ran past Dorsett, but as an upperclassman his Horns fell shy of winning the Southern Division, let alone Big Twelve Conference or National Championship. T.J. in his two years at least led his team to a groundbreaking Final Four appearance, only to lose to the eventual champions.
Durant's success is hard to truly define. He dominated the stat columns, appeared to dominate the opposing five, and yet never quite dominated the game, unable to lift up his fellow (young) teammates and will them to victory. Is that enough? Is that more than enough? Again, the Texas standard appears to be guided by the national recognition as player of the year. We're inclined to believe No. 35 is a lock to sway high above the Erwin Center court.
Meanwhile, the argument for Young's #10 is that the Maxwell is a POY award (one which Williams paired with his Heisman in '98). In fact, Tommy Nobis joins the two as the only other Longhorn to win the award, and his #60 is often left unworn.
Young's #10 may similarly go unofficially off the market but perhaps his ability to take over a field of twenty-one other men and lead Texas to it's first BCS bowl and title will strengthen his case.
Momentarily ignoring the free pass seemingly acquired via receiving POY honors and debating which trophies count, does will future "dominance" in the NBA or NFL affect a latter decision to retire the numbers?