Young in his Longhorns cap (Photo: Frederick Breedon IV)If you happen to be a country music artist, it's pretty hard to top a week in which you discover you've been nominated for four American Country Awards--as Chris Young learned a couple days ago. It's also pretty difficult to top a fall season overall that sees the start of your first headlining tour (a milestone Young says was definitely on his "bucket list"). However, there is something that has Young pumped up nearly as much as these career highlights. What could that be? Football, of course!
Young's a dedicated sports fan who can talk stat lines, spreads, and replacement refs ("A bunch of my friends are from Wisconsin," he deadpans) with the aplomb of a Fox NFL Sunday panelist (move over, Terry!), and he's in a particularly jazzed mood for the weekend, which includes a legendary matchup between his favorite NCAAF team and its main rival. Yup, you guessed it--I'm talking about the Texas vs. Oklahoma game.
Sooner fans may just want to click away now, because Young is all for the Longhorns. When asked why a Murfreesboro, Tennessee native is a Texas fan (he didn't attend the school), Young has a humorous explanation. "The easiest way to explain it is my cousin is a way over-the top--like named her dog 'Smokey'--[Tennessee] Volunteers fan, and I was just like, no, I gotta be something different." Being a big Emmitt Smith admirer, as well as having relatives in Texas, Young decided to pledge allegiance to the Dallas Cowboys--and, as long as he was at it, the University of Texas's football team as well.
"The Longhorns--I liked their logo. As a kid that was a big part of it," he laughs.
At any rate, Young is looking forward to the famed Red River Rivalry, which will take place Saturday in Dallas. The teams are on a fairly even playing ground (Oklahoma is No. 13, Texas 15). OU has won the past two years' standoffs.
Young is pretty sure that Texas has a fighting chance, although they're smarting from a particularly close brush with West Virginia last weekend ("I thought we had a shot to win that game...obviously I was a little depressed," Young says dryly). Although the game has remote significance in the national championship race, Young reminds everyone that it's sure to be a bloody matchup.
"I definitely think we've got a shot," he says, adding that he really likes Texas quarterback David Ash. "I think Oklahoma and Texas are pretty evenly matched this year. Both teams play up to that game, and it's a huge bragging rights deal for all year. As many people as I know that are from OU or are OU fans, I definitely want to win that game," he laughs.
He'll be dressed for the occasion, as well. "I've got the jersey out here on the bus; I'll be wearing the jersey that day for sure."
Will work get in the way of watching the big game? "Oh, no no no, we will see that game," he asserts with a laugh. "It's gonna have to be seen."
Luckily, it's a morning matchup, so Young will have plenty of time before taking the stage at the Alabama National Fair that evening. Obviously, he's rooting for the Horns: "I'll go Texas by 3," he bets.
As for the NFL, Young is also looking foward to Sunday's Dallas at Baltimore game, although he admits that he has to give his prediction to the Ravens, lamenting that last week's game against Chicago didn't make the Cowboys look too great.
When asked where his confidence level is in Tony Romo, Young defends the oft-maligned QB. "Look, everybody says he's not any good. But if you look at his stats, he is. He gets preyed on--two or three moments people zero in on. I just don't think he's ever as bad as people like to point at him."
Still, despite that--and a discussion of some of Dallas's other powerhouses such as Dez Bryant, Kevin Ogletree, Miles Austin, Jason Witten, and DeMarco Murray--he's got to hand it to Baltimore for this weekend. "They're favored pretty heavily, and I don't blame 'em. I will root for the Cowboys, but the Ravens are my pick," he notes.
However, he refuses to give any spread. "I don't even want to say, that hurts my heart so bad to think they won't win. I'm gonna root for them, anything can happen!"
Truer words were never spoken: Young already has good luck escorting him into this weekend's game roster. We spoke just prior to Thursday night's match between another one of his favorites, the Tennessee Titans, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. After a chat about veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck and the team's overall struggles this season, we both admitted that Pittsburgh was the clear pick. That evening, the Titans pulled off an upset, beating the Steelers 26-23.