Let me preface this post by saying that I'm a huge Major Applewhite fan. Let me also preface this post by saying that I'm a huge Chris Simms fan. This post is not intended to denigrate or exalt either one of them. It is not intended to apologize for or justify either of their careers. It is not intended to delve into our offensive scheme and whether that scheme made the most of their respective talents.It is certainly not intended to show that either player is any better than the other.It is intended only to examine their history at UT, both individually and collectively. And to examine what I consider to be a decision that critically impacted on both of their careers.Let's begin...1998 In the summer of 1998, Major Applewhite is a redshirt freshman QB competing for the backup role with Greg Cicero. The decision becomes moot when Cicero goes down with a knee injury during one of the summer drills. Major's first game: In Game 2 of the season, starter Richard Walton breaks a bone in the hand while playing at UCLA. In his first game, Major Applewhite enters the game down 42-17 and does admirably "winning" for the remainder of the game 14-7, with the final score 49-31. It should be noted for anyone who likes to bemoan Applewhite's losing his starting position due to injury later in his career that Walton recovered well enough to play later in the season but was not returned to his starting role. Major's first start: Major's first start was rather a "sink or swim" experience, facing #5 Kansas State at Manhattan with no true QB to back him up. He did have to stick out all four quarters of the game. The Wildcats stuff Ricky Williams all day. Major has marginal success throwing for 239 yards, but has 2 interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Texas falls to K-State 48-7. The remainder of the year: Major continues to improve with each game. He leads the team to a 34-3 victory over an unranked OU. The most impressive game is the win in Lincoln over #7 Nebraska, ending the longest home winning streak in the nation. Despite a disappointing 42-35 loss to Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas fans are thrilled to end the season #15 in the nation with Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams. Major Applewhite: 8-2 as a starter, 9-3 on the year 1999 With USA Today's #1 Offensive Player headed to Texas, RS QB Adam Dunn moves on to the greener pastures of professional baseball, where he has thrived and continues to be a huge Longhorn fan. The graduation of former starter Richard Walton leaves only one veteran scholarship QB on the roster in Major Applewhite and two incoming freshmen, Chris Simms and Adam Hall. Mack Brown had to take the redshirt off of one or the other, thus redshirting was never an option for Chris Simms. Critics might argue that Mack should have "saved" Chris and wasted a year of Hall's elibility, but that is just not the kind of coach that Brown is. Hall later transferred with an unconditional release and went on to a successful career at San Diego State. Major's first start of the year: Chris Simms does not see the field in his first game as a Longhorn as #17 falls at home to North Carolina State in a game lost pretty much singlehandedly due to punt blocks (one for a safety, two returned for touchdowns) Applewhite appears perfectly capable. Chris' first game: When Major Applewhite leads the team to a 55-10 lead over Stanford, Chris comes in for mop up duty early in the fourth and leads the offense to another 14 points for a final score of 69-17. Major goes 17 of 27 with 0 INTs for 353 yards and 3 touchdowns in his 12th start. Chris is 3 of 7 for 27 yards, no ints, and 1 TD in his first time on the field. Major Applewhite as the undisputed starter cruises through the next three games over Rutgers, Rice and Baylor. Chris Simms gets marginal mop up time in each game, throwing only in one of them going 3-4 (0 INTs) against Baylor.Kansas State: Texas hits a stumbling block against #13 K-State at home. They fall to the Wildcats 35-17 with a hard day for seasoned veteran Major Applewhite in his 17th start going 19 for 37 with 3 interceptions, one returned for a touchdown. He also had two, and I think even 3, fumbles on the day. I read that Major once told Chris not to even hang his head until he is responsible for 6 turnovers in a single game. It was to this game that he was referring. Needless to say, even with such a dismal performance by the proven QB, Chris Simms was not called upon to replace Applewhite. Still the undisputed starter, Major Applewhite leads the team to 5 consecutive victories, including a 38-28 victory over unranked OU and its first year coach, Bob Stoops, and over #3 Nebraska to extend UT's record to 3-0 over the Cornhuskers since 1996. Chris' first start: Following the tragedy that took 12 young lives when the Texas A&M bonfire collapsed and after unity rally and blood drives promoted by the UT staff, the Texas team had a player go into seizures on the bus drive down to College Station, were subject to harassing phone calls all night at the Ramada, and then did not receive breakfast when the cooks failed to show up the morning of the game. Major Applewhite fell ill and was literally vomiting on the sidelines minutes before the game at which point Chris Simms was informed that he'd be making his first start in College Station. Chris leads the team to a 16-6 lead but when the offense stalls in the second half and the Aggies get a touchdown to close the gap to 16-13, a weakened Major Applewhite enters the game to try to hold off the Aggies. His efforts fail and the Aggies win the game 20-16. Big XII Championship Game: #12 Texas enters the Big XII Championship with a conference championship and BCS berth on the line. Veteran Major Applewhite, recovered from his illness, has the start. In a game where the Texas offense netted only 178 yards (172 passing), Texas falls to a determined Nebraska 22-6 with Applewhite going 15 for 42 with 3 interceptions. Applewhite, in his 23rd start, opens the Cotton Bowl against Arkansas. In a lackluster performance by many facets of the team, Applewhite goes down with a torn ACL with 12 minutes remaining in the game trailing 17-6. Chris Simms orchestrates a 73 yard drive in the waning minutes, but is unable to get into the endzone. Texas loses 27-6. Applewhite is 15 of 21 with 0 INTS and 121 yards on the day. Simms is 9 of 18 with 0 INTs and 91 yards in his 7th game to see the field. Major Applewhite: 17-6 career as a starter, 9-4 on the year Chris Simms: 0-1 as a starter, although he left the game with a lead, 4-2 in games played (mop up duty in 4 wins, loss in start, loss when entering the game late due to injury down 11 points) At this point in his career, Chris has thrown 1 interception. This is just my recollection, but I don't recall there being any strong opinions regarding Chris Simms at this point in his career. I don't recall anyone being overly disappointed by his performance against A&M or blaming him for that loss. I don't recall anyone blaming him for not coming back against Arkansas. Likewise, I do not recall Major Applewhite being booed or his car being vandalized or people leaving obscene messages on his cell phone after the loss in the Big XII Championship to Nebraska. I do recall that the fans were somewhat disappointed by a 9-5 season which ended with 3 losses, but blame was not being assigned to either QB. 2000 With Major Applewhite recovering from a torn ACL and a still green but reasonably successful Chris Simms going into fall practice, Coach Brown makes what I consider to be a watershed decision that dramatically impacts both QBs careers. Coach Brown decides to name them "co-starters" heading into the 2000 season.At this point, there were some fans who felt that Major Applewhite, the proven starter, should not lose his starting role to injury, no matter how serious. There were others that felt that Major Applewhite had reached the pinnacle of his potential as a player and that Chris Simms should be given the chance to develop as a starter. Thus the genesis of the Applewhite vs. Simms debate. The beginning of the season did not provide any clear answers... only disappointment.The two-headed monster known as "co-starters" lasts for 5 games.First Game: In his 2nd start and 7th game, Chris Simms gets the nod against the University of Louisiana-LaFayette. He throws an interception returned for a touchdown in the first quarter that puts the Cajuns up 10-0. Brown invokes the "co-starter" rule and puts in Major who goes 18-26 with 4 TDs before Chris reenters the game halfway through the third and goes on to complete 7-14 with 1 TD. Texas wins 52-10, but fans already grumbling about Applewhite not getting the first start latch on to Chris' early mistake and subsequent benching as reason to lose confidence in him. Ironically, Simms gets a mark in the win column as a starter moving his career record to 1-1. Stanford: Applewhite gets the nod this time as the 'horns go out to Palo Alto. He started out poorly and Coach Brown also switched QBs early in this game. Chris orchestrates two drives, one ending in a touchdown, going 3 of 6 with 0 interceptions. Brown decides to switch back to Major. In the end, Major went 18 of 40 with 2 INTs. Major nearly engineers a comeback victory with 2 TDs in the fourth, but falls short 27-24. Co-Starter record falls to 1-1. Houston: Simms takes the first snap in this one, but has a rocky game going 9 of 16 but 2 INTs, the first one coming on the first play from scrimmage. He passes for a touchdown but is pulled again after the second INT and Applewhite comes in and proceeds to go 13 of 21 for 140 yards also with 1 INT. Texas rolls to a 48-0 victory. Co-Starter goes to 2-1, Simms gets another "starter" victory to go to 2-1, but fan grumbling grows louder. Oklahoma State: For whatever reason, Simms again takes the first snap. Chris went 3 for 6, with an interception that was returned to the Texas 5 which was called back on a penalty. In what had become a tragic pattern, Simms was pulled and Applewhite came in to lead the team going 15 for 28 with no interceptions in a 42-7 victory. Co-Starter now 3-1, Simms up to 3-1, but the fan bitching has now become intense. Oklahoma: What is there to say? Applewhite starts. Nobody playes. Applewhite is 9-18-1 on the day, Simms is 11-23-1. We are either 28 or 35 points down when Simms enters the game. The score ends up 63-14. Pretty equal suckage. The one bright spot is that it ends the Co-Starter debacle. The coaches see that this farce is not working for the team. The more productive QB to date is clearly Applewhite, and although many fans today seem to forget this point, Applewhite gets the job over Simms. Co-Starter mercifully ends at 3-2, Simms starting record continues to be 3-1, Major's starting record falls to 17-8 even though he is largely responsible for several victories on the year. Frankly, I think the fairest thing to do is to treat the Co-Starter as its own beast and not credit or debit either QB during its reign of terror. Major's starting career: 17-6 Chris's starting career: 0-1* (I will forever put an asterisk by the 1998 game for Chris. Too many bizarre circumstances surrounded that game and he still left the game with a lead) Co-Starter: 3-2 So, our now backup QB is in the middle of his sophomore year, having played in 11 games, been the sole starter in 1 under unbelievably difficult circumstances in which he left the game with a lead, and been subject to the co-starter thing for five which crushed any sort of confidence that a young QB should be building at that stage of his career.Our starter has had his career somewhat derailed by the co-starter monster, with his overall record taking at least 3 marks off his total win column that should rightfully be there. But the job is his and our gutty QB goes forth knowing that he once again is the undisputed leader of the team.Next 3 games: Applewhite leads the team to 3 consecutive victories, the first being a critical win at Colorado after the OU debacle. Texas rolls over Missouri and Baylor and heads into Lubbock. Applewhite plays well in all 3 games. Simms does well in a backup role in both the Missouri and Baylor games. Texas Tech: On that fateful day in Lubbock, Applewhite engineers a come-from-behind drive in the 3rd quarter to put the Longhorns up 20-17, but once again he goes down with a knee injury. Simms brings the team home going 2 for 2 for 18 yards in the 29-17 victory. Kansas: I'll never forget this game. Damn, it was cold. Robert and I and about 50 other Longhorns most of whom where parents go up to Lawrence. I think of it now as Simms' "Come to Jesus" game. There is no Applewhite looking over his shoulder. No way we pull Chance Mock's redshirt should Simms fall apart. Much like Applewhite's "sink or swim" game vs. K-State as a redshirt freshman, Simms now walks out on the field with no safety net. It starts just as we had all come to expect from a Simms start. He throws an interception -- for a touchdown. And then he throws another one. Texas goes down 16-0, I believe, in the first quarter. And Simms has his epiphany. He goes on to throw for 240 yards and 2 touchdowns in the 51-16 trouncing of the Jayhawks. One will always wonder what would have happened if Simms had been given the opportunity to redeem himself after a difficult start back in the Lousiana-LaFayette game. Texas A&M: Simms begins what would become dominance over the Aggies for the remainder of his career in a 43-17 victory which sees him throw 16 of 24 for 383 yards and 3 TDs with 0 interceptions, including a 3rd quarter that is frankly perfection. Holiday Bowl: Simms goes 17 of 33 with 4 interceptions in what some like to point back to as another of his failures in "the big game", although the Longhorns were in a position to win up until the very last but unfortunately with 3 dropped TD passes Simms was unable to pull off an Applewhite-like comeback to win. Co-Starter: 3-2 Major Applewhite: 21-6 as a starter (actual 21-8), 24-8 in games played Chris Simms: 2-2 as a starter (actual 5-2), 12-5 in games played The year ends 9-3 for the Longhorns. The OU loss grates on everyone, especially when the Sooners go on to win the National Championship under second-year coach Bob Stoops. Its impossible to say what the record would have been had Major Applewhite been declared the starter from the beginning of the year. Its impossible to say if Simms would have positively benefitted from more time in a traditional backup role. Two years into his playing career, Applewhite had 23 starts and his record was 17-6. Two years into his playing career, Simms had 4 real starts and was 2-2 (including the bonfire game). One start prior to the co-starter role, which as it played out was detriment to Simms development and Applewhite's career, and 3 afterwards. After four consecutive starts, Applewhite was 3-1. 2001 Applewhite had clearly been the more successful quarterback through the year, but is again rehabbing from a serious injury. There is no question that going into 2001, Simms is the less experienced QB. Coach Brown apparently sees that the co-starter thing was a bust, and declares Simms the starter before spring practice begins.Going into the fall, the expectations are enormous. The Longhorns are ranked #5 preseason and are expected to make a run at the brass ring. Many fans are not happy with Mack Brown's decision to make Simms the starter before the season even begins.The first 4 games: Simms leads the team through the first four games with victories over New Mexico State (41-7, 17 of 33, 0 INT), North Carolina (44-14, 17 of 35, 0 INT), Houston (53-26, 20 of 35, 1 INT), and Texas Tech (42-7, 21 of 26, 1 INT). Applewhite has mop-up duty in these games and always performs well (6 of 9, 0 INT through these 4 games). Simms career starts (minus co-starter record) is now 6-2. OU: Simms faces the #2 Oklahoma Sooners, defending National Champions in a game where the year before the Longhorns had been embarassed 63-14. It is his ninth real start. The Longhorns trail 7-3 at the end of the 3rd quarter, having missed two field goals. While the Texas offense outdistances the OU offense 225 yards to 206, 198 of which were in the air, Simms commits 4 INTs, one of which turns into the final OU score on the now famous flying Roy Williams (LB for OU) play in which Simms pass ends up in Teddy Lehman's hands where he scores on a 2 yard run. Rest of the regular season: Simms goes on to dominate the remaining competition, including a 41-7 drubbing of #14 Colorado. Big XII Championship Game: In his 17th start (not including the co-starter), Simms has the worst game of his career against Colorado, throwing 3 INTs and a fumble in the first half. Applewhite comes in and nearly pulls off the miracle in the 39-37 loss which cost the Longhorns a Big XII Championship and a shot at the national title. Ironically, in Applewhite's 17th start, he suffered the 35-17 loss to K-State at home in which he was responsible for 6 turnovers. Holiday Bowl: After a very rocky start, including 3 interceptions, Applewhite stays in the game and engineers a come-from-behind last minute victory over Washington 47-43 in his final game. Major Applewhite: 22-6 as a sole starter (actual 22-8) Chris Simms: 13-3 as a sole starter (actual 16-3) 2002 No need to review the entire season other than to note Simms 11-2 record. Obviously, the one loss to OU in which he went 12 of 26 with 3 interceptions. And the loss to Texas Tech which I don't think even the harshest of Simms' critics place blame on his shoulders in his masterful 24 of 37 for 345 yard performance (1 INT). Chris Simms: 23-5 as a sole starter (actual 26-5) To summarize, since I know you skipped most of this War And Peace novel, take a moment to consider the development of each QB taking out the co-starter mess, which arguably was detrimental to both of their careers. As Starters: Major: 22-6 Chris: 23-5 Vs. ranked teams: Major: 5-4 Chris: 3-4 Vs. OU/A&M Major: 3-0 Chris: 3-3 Bowl/Big XII Championship Games: Major: 2-2 Chris: 1-2 Major threw 3 interceptions in his Big XII championship game, and then lost the bowl game to Arkansas in his 20th and 21st starts. Chris threw 3 interceptions in his Big XII championship game (his 17th start) and was benched for the bowl game. Their careers were actually quite similar in record and performance in many ways. Chris slightly behind in both record vs. ranked teams as well as rivals (although these tend to be one in the same, as OU was ranked during Chris' starts against them and not Major's). Don't forget that Chris is also saddled with the loss in the bonfire game which he left with a lead. Major somewhat behind with 2 losses to unranked teams compared to Chris' 1 loss (the Tech game this year). Its the perception of their careers that is so widely disparate, not the records themselves. One wonders what Applewhite's career would have been had he been named the starter at the beginning of 2000 or 2001. One wonders what Simms career would have been had he had the opportunity to redshirt or develop in a more traditional backup role. We'll never know. We do know that the co-starter deal hurt both of them. We do know that both of their careers were cut short -- one by a coaching decision based on two severe injuries, the other by a lack of depth which prevented a redshirt season. Perhaps we as fans can learn something from their careers -- hopefully something about unfair expectations and picking sides and patience. We'll have need of all of those as our new QBs find their roles on this team. NOTE: Obviously, this post focuses on each QBs win/loss record. This is in no way intended to mean that the QB is solely responsible for any win or loss.