National champions make big plays and smart calls at critical times and the Trojans didn’t do either Wednesday evening when the magic they displayed so often the past four seasons disappeared in a haze of self-destructive miscalculations. … While the Trojans have no one to blame for their plight but themselves, the Longhorns created their own good fortune, or at least Vince Young did with his wizardry that upstaged the two USC Heisman Trophy winners, Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart. … I couldn’t believe how feeble the Trojan defense looked against Young, who should opt for the NFL and take the $20 million bonus he would doubtless receive from the Houston Texans, who have the first NFL pick and would almost certainly select home state hero Young and trade away their current quarterback occupant, David Carr. … The Longhorns’ secondary was as good as advertised, and the Trojan receivers, unlike their counterparts, always had defenders draped over them even though the accurate-throwing Leinart was able to complete 29 of 40 for 365 yards. … It wasn’t supposed to unfold that way, but, clearly, Mack Brown outcoached Pete Carroll in this one. … Trojan insiders tell me it’s a certainty that LenDale White will be joining Reggie Bush in the NFL draft. … The feeling here is that a couple of Poly High graduates, safety Darnell Bing and offensive tackle Winston Justice, would be better off if they came back for their senior seasons, but who am I to tell a couple of guys barely out of their teens to turn down an opportunity to become instantly wealthy. … Matt Leinart’s caddy, John David Booty, is supposed to succeed Leinart, but a lot of people close to the Trojan program believe the freshman from Mater Dei, Mark Sanchez, who redshirted this season, eventually will unseat Booty. … Where Are You Jerry Miller, Frank Colonna, Doug Drummond, Les Robbins, Ad Nauseam, When I Need You Dept.: Recently, I was pinched 35 bucks for a parking violation on Shoreline Drive, and I promptly paid it. But a few weeks later, I received a memo from the city of Long Beach claiming I hadn’t, and that the fine would be doubled if I didn’t meet the deadline. Figuring my first $35 check had been lost in the mail, I sent in another one. And guess what? The city of Long Beach cashed both of the checks! If they need that extra 35 bucks to pay off the debts on their red ink-splattered fish tank, they certainly can have it. But one does wonder idly how many other yokels like myself are being double-billed in such a manner. … Just got back from Europe, and didn’t realize that Kobe Bryant showed his stellar leadership ability once again by getting himself suspended for two games for a flagrant foul against the Memphis Grizzlies’ Mike Miller. What a great role model Mr. Bryant is. … I haven’t seen a guy smoke a pipe in years, and yet I spotted two of them puffing contentedly away in a Vienna restaurant. Wonder how I’d look smoking a pipe. … I’ve been to a few beautiful, scenic venues in my life, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything more panoramic than I did the day after Christmas when my Lady Friend and I drove from Munich to the snow-covered Bavarian Alps and then stopped for a time and walked around Lake Konigssee near Berchtesgaden. Gently falling snow flakes only heightened the gladness of the experience. … One of the favorite times I have in my feeble life always comes during the 10-hour railroad trip between Vienna and Berlin. I enjoy sitting in the dining car, and engaging in conversation with people I know I’ll never see again. But, alas, this time the car was out of order and for 10 agonizing hours I didn’t have anything to eat, which I easily was able to endure, and didn’t have anything to drink, a harrowing hardship beyond comprehension. … During my stay at the Berlin Hilton in the Gendarmenmarkt district of the old east part of the city near Checkpoint Charlie, I befriended the ambassador to Germany from the embassy of the Republic of Rwanda, a Mr. Eugene-Richard Gasana, a nice man with harrowing stories to relate about the terrible genocide that afflicted his country a few years back. … I shouldn’t be writing this column, and wouldn’t be if I weren’t blessed by Somebody Up There looking out for me. I came thisclose from the taxman at the gate finally collecting his due from me. I was waiting anxiously late one afternoon to cross what I thought was a one-way street in Salzburg, Austria, and was set to dash across so I could mock my Lady Friend, who never jaywalks and always waits patiently for the green pedestrian light. Well, just as I got set to bolt, a car whizzed past me, missing me by about three inches. And several other cars followed. I didn’t realize there was a single lane going in the other direction, but I do realize how close I came to extinction and do realize once again how fragile life is. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson National champions don’t allow an opposing quarterback to torment them for 200 yards rushing and one almost could swear the Trojans were shying away in fear from Vince Young when he went on his merry, lengthy jaunts. National champions always harass an opposing quarterback into at least one or two or many sacks and the Trojans never came faintly close to such an achievement against Young, who easily picked them apart with his passes on those occasions when he wasn’t on one of his unmolested excursions. National champions don’t dispense adolescent antics commonplace in pickup games in playgrounds and the cerebral meltdown Reggie Bush suffered in the second quarter with his misguided lateral that was recovered by the Longhorns not only kept his team from a probable touchdown and 14-0 lead but also set the untidy Trojan tenor for the remainder of the proceedings. National champions make sound judgments at important junctures and Pete Carroll and his coaching staff twice notably failed in this regard on fourth down situations, one in the first half when logic dictated a field goal attempt and another late in the game when logic dictated a punt. National champions relentlessly exploit an advantage and one wonders why the Trojans didn’t persist in pounding the tiring Longhorn defense with LenDale White (124 yards on 20 carries) instead of too often resorting to some trick play that didn’t work. The Longhorns played like national champions by overcoming a 12-point deficit in the final minutes, by making vital fourth down stops, by making sure tackles, by not making bumble-brained decisions that, ultimately, turned out to be the difference in their being able to bring down the USC dynasty. The Trojans, well, national champions don’t allow the opposition’s receivers to roam around in the secondary unimpeded and I’ve never seen a slow-footed tight end like the Longhorns’ Dave Thomas (10 catches for 88 yards) able to be as wide open as he was throughout the game, as was teammate Limas Sweed (8 for 65). In retrospect, the USC Trojans Wednesday evening took a pratfall on their fawning press reviews and their haughty sense of entitlement. As painful as it must be for them to accept their 41-38 BCS title loss to Texas on an 8-yard touchdown run by Vince Young with a mere 19 seconds remaining in the game Matt Leinart crassly refused to by insisting afterward he still thought his team was better the unvarnished reality is that they richly deserved their fate.