- The Washington Times - Friday, January 6, 2006

Boot heels nationwide are still stomping with glee after the University of Texas Longhorns whupped the USC Trojans at the Rose Bowl — garnering accolades from the White House and spot on a Wheaties box.

“Congratulations on a wonderful moment,” President Bush told Texas head coach Mack Brown around dawn yesterday, only hours after the Longhorns beat the University of Southern California, 41-38.

“Tell the team congratulations. We’re proud of them,” said Mr. Bush, a former Texas governor, promising a White House visit for the team.

Brown said in the aftermath that “you know your life is different when the first call you receive is from President Bush at 6 in the morning.”

But support for the Longhorns did not end with a phone call.

The president was still so tickled later in the day that he sported a tie in signature Longhorn burnt orange. Mr. Bush also faced journalists assembled for a press briefing in the Roosevelt Room and proclaimed, “Hook ‘em horns,” complete with the appropriate hand gesture.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, meanwhile, got poetic over it all.

“As a Texan, I am proud of the tremendous poise and perseverance the Longhorns showed, even as many national observers proclaimed the game to be over before it began,” Mr. Perry said from Austin yesterday.

Almost every starter on the team, Mr. Perry pointed out, was born and raised in Texas — making the state just one happy family.

“Even an Aggie like me can be proud of Texas’ historic win,” added the graduate of Texas A&M; University.

Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, agreed.

“It feels great to have this well deserved title in Austin,” he said yesterday. “Their victory is just one more accomplishment of our great state that every Texan can be proud of.”

Additional jubilation, no doubt, could be found in the Bush household over the Longhorns first outright national championship win in 36 years. First lady Laura Bush earned her master’s degree from Texas in 1973, and daughter Jenna graduated from the university in May 2004. Both White House press secretary Scott McClellan and presidential aide Dan Bartlett are alumni.

Mr. McClellan, in fact, gave the press corps a second dose of Texas pride at his briefing yesterday.

“An amazing game. Hook ‘em horns,” he told reporters.

A good chunk of the nation witnessed the dramatic game in Pasadena, Calif. About 34 million viewers tuned into ABC on Wednesday night, according to Nielsen.

And about that breakfast of champions. General Mills announced yesterday that it will produce a commemorative Wheaties cereal box to honor the Longhorns, showcasing Brown and a team helmet. The box will appear on Texas shelves in two weeks and nationwide in February.

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