10/9/99 Ralph Barrera/AA-S; Texas' QB Major Applewhite celebrates with the fans in the stands after Texas' come from behind victory over rival Oklahoma in their Cotton Bowl matchup Saturday October 9, 1999 in Dallas, TX. (Wangrin story)


Daily Longhorn football history: The 1999 season

Posted August 16th, 2017


The Texas football program dates back to 1893. Each day, we look at a little piece of Longhorn history. We’re starting by looking at each Longhorn football season. 

With Ricky Williams moving to the NFL, the Longhorns and second-year coach Mack Brown began a new era at Texas.

It started with a heck of a recruiting class.


The 1999 class featured the top quarterback recruit in the nation, Chris Simms, along with standouts like offensive lineman Derrick Dockery, receiver O.J. McClintock, tight end Bo Scaife and defensive linemen Cole Pittman, Cory Redding and Marcus Tubbs.

University of Texas freshman Chris Simms prepares to check into Jester Dormitory Monday, August 2, 1999. Simms, USA Today’s offensive player of the year, is a quarterback who is part of UT football’s highly touted freshman class. (Brian K. Diggs/American-Statesman)

The deep, talented roster went 9-5 in 1999, on paper a great season, but this squad had a bumpier time than Brown’s first team despite winning more games.

Hodges Mitchell stepped into Ricky Williams’ role as the lead back and rushed for 1,343 yards and nine touchdowns. Major Applewhite threw for 3,357 yards (then a team record) and 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Kwame Cavil set a then Longhorn record with 100 catches, shattering the previous record set the year before by Wane McGarity, who had 58 catches. Cavil had 1,188 yards and six touchdowns in 1999.

Texas wide receiver Kwame Cavil is tackled by Texas Tech linebacker Jonathan Hawkins in the first quarter at Royal-Memorial Stadium Saturday, Nov. 13, 1999. (Brian K. Diggs/American-Statesman)

Ryan Nunez would have threatened McGarity’s record also– he caught 56 passes for 600 yards.

The Darrell Royal offensive philosophy was never coming back to Texas.

Defensively, now being led by coordinator Carl Reese, Texas started seeing the defensive line develop. Casey Hampton is a big reason why. The future All-Pro defensive nose tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers teamed with Shaun Rogers to form one of the best defensive tackle tandem in college football. Hampton recorded 101 tackles. Rogers had 80. Aaron Humphrey recorded 10 sacks.

The defense had improved from Brown’s first season, and the numbers showed.

Texas’ Shaun Rogers makes sure Nebraska QB Eric Crouch did not make any yards on this option keeper during second half action in the Horns’ 24-20 victory before a sellout crowd of 84,084 Saturday October 23, 1999. (Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman)

Texas lost its first game of the season 23-20 to North Carolina State, then reeled off four straight wins.

Brown fell to 0-2 against Kansas State to snap that run, falling 35-17. This would be a trend for Brown’s teams, who struggled mightily to solve the Bill Snyder conundrum.

The Longhorns bounced back to win five more games in a row, including a 38-28 win over Oklahoma and first-year coach Bob Stoops. The native of Ohio had been hired away from Florida, where he had been the defensive coordinator, in the offseason. “Big Game Bob” would beat Texas many times with the Sooners, but his first crack at the Longhorns would belong to Brown.

The Sooners opened a 17-3 lead on Texas after the first quarter, but Texas outscored Oklahoma 28-11 in the second and third quarters and went on to win 38-28. Applewhite finished with 328 yards, while Mitchell rushed for 204 yards.

That win was followed by a third straight victory over a top-10 ranked Nebraska team. Texas rallied from 10 points down to take the lead with 5:51 left in the game, 24-20, and kept Eric Crouch and the Huskers from scoring again to clinch the win.

Rising to No. 7 in the AP pol l– the highest ranking since 1996 –Texas entered its match up with No. 24 Texas A&M having already booked a spot to the 1999 Big 12 Championship Game.

The Longhorns lost 20-16 as the Aggies scored two second half touchdowns to take the lead. Ja’Mar Toombs rushed for 126 yards on a whooping 37 carries.

The next week Texas faced Nebraska in a rematch. This time the Huskers made sure they won. They led the Longhorns 22-0 before Ahmad Brooks scooped a fumble and ran it for a touchdown with 13:26 left to play. The Longhorns couldn’t convert for two and never scored again, losing 22-6.

Texas QB Major Applewhite cannot elude the grasp of Nebraska’s Jason Lohr as he is sacked during third quarter action of the Cornhuskers domination over the Horns in the Big 12 Championship game at the Alamodome in San Antonio Saturday December 4, 1999. (Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman)

Texas accepted an invite to the Cotton Bowl where the Longhorns would play longtime rival Arkansas.

It would be the first game against the Razorbacks since Arkansas left for the Southeastern Conference following the 1991 season.

Texas failed to score a touchdown in the game, settling for two Kris Stockton field goals. Arkansas won 27-6.

Arkansas Coach Houston Nutt gives the horns down sign after Texas’ loss to Arkansas in the 2000 Cotton Bowl. (Fox Television)

In the end, Texas finished 9-5 for the year, but lost three straight games to end the season.

Were they changes needed? Mack Brown was safe, but despite a historic passing season at Texas, would a quarterback change be needed?

Next on Daily Longhorn: The Major Applewhite-Chris Simms debate.