It was the morning after and BYU football players were packing up and leaving San Diego. After beating Michigan in Holiday Bowl VII the previous night to complete an unbeaten season and lay claim to the 1984 national championship, many of the players had returned to Provo on a midnight charter. But many others had remained behind, celebrating and recounting the game and season late into the night with family and friends.
The next morning the players and their families were hustling to leave. They were loading suitcases into cars and shuttle buses and asking for directions. They were checking out of the Mission Bay Hilton and saying their good-byes. They were driving off in all directions, to home and Christmas vacation - and, in a much broader sense, on to the rest of their lives.Watching all this from the lobby, tight end David Mills was struck by the scene.
"Suddenly, I knew it was over," he recalls. "There would be no more games, no more challenges. This was it. It really sank in. It was sad. The last five years we had been playing ball, and we always had next year. Now we didn't. Suddenly, I had to reevaluate, find new personal goals. What else was I going to do with my life? What would I do when I grow up?"
That was 10 years ago, and now Mills and his teammates know the answer. They've become fathers, husbands, doctors, lawyers, coaches, teachers, CPAs, NFL players, sheriffs, radio talk-show hosts, baseball players, plumbers, ministers, businessmen and insurance brokers - but always they are members of that 1984 national championship team.
Here is a look at the lives of 20 of the top players from that team on the 10th anniversary of that championship season (separate profiles on quarterback Robbie Bosco and guard Craig Garrick will run Thursday).
KELLY SMITH (halfback) People remember. Most of them will say, Kelly's the one who caught that last pass that won the national championship. The neighbors were watching the Michigan game on TV the other day, and one of the women said, `Wouldn't that be fun if that was the same Kelly Smith?' Her husband said, `It is the same Kelly Smith.' Smith, 32, who has three kids, with another one on the way, coaches quarterbacks and receivers at Dixie College and teaches physical education.
As a high school senior, Smith scored 36 touchdowns and kicked 51 extra points and seven field goals, and recruiters couldn't have cared less. Smith's flaw: He was from tiny Beaver, one in a graduating class of 54.
He walked on at BYU and, after tries at defensive back and wide receiver, became a starting halfback in 1984. "I was just hoping to get in on one play at BYU, and I end up playing and winning a national championship," he says.
The following year Smith suffered a knee injury that sidelined him most of his senior year and caused him to fail his physical with the New York Giants.
Smith wears his national championship ring occasionally and his wedding ring never, because he doesn't like jewelry. "I told my wife, `It's harder to win a national championship than to get married.' "
CARY WHITTINGHAM (linebacker) At 30, Whittingham is still trying to begin a career, but in the meantime he has been content to be Mr. Mom. His wife has been the breadwinner, while Whittingham has stayed home with their twin boys, now 3 1/2.
"What's been important is that one of us watch our kids," says Whittingham. "I've done things I've never thought I'd be able to do, like change diapers. I really enjoy my kids. I've kind of raised them. I've grown closer to my kids than most fathers."
With the boys nearing preschool age, he has been taking examinations to qualify for police work.
Whittingham, the second of three brothers to star at BYU and the son of a former NFL player and coach, was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1986, but didn't survive training-camp cuts. He played with the Rams during the '87 strike season and then returned to BYU and earned a master's degree.
I don't look back a lot. It's painful to think about it. I miss football, but you've got to be realistic and mature enough to let it go.
KYLE MORRELL (safety) One game that stands out (in the '84 season) is Hawaii, says BYU head coach LaVell Edwards. That was the night of the infamous Kyle Morrell play. It was third down and inches (from the goal line), and they ran a quarterback sneak. Kyle said that he just - and it's amazing what kids think of at times - but he just reasoned that they couldn't penalize it any closer to the goal line than it already was. So he thought it might be a quarterback sneak and took a chance. He timed it and he was actually off the ground and in the air when the ball was snapped. The quarterback got the ball and Kyle came right over the top of him and got a hold of the back of his jersey and just pulled him back.
When asked to name the most memorable moment of the '84 season, almost all BYU players and coaches point to Morrell's wonderfully unprecedented and spontaneous leap over the Hawaii line. Trevor Matich, a 10-year NFL veteran, calls it, "the most spectacular play I've seen in my life at any level." Mark Allen named his son Kyle, after Morrell.
Morrell's play was a gamble - when coaches graded the film the next day, he was given a minus for the play because he was out of position - but it forced Hawaii to settle for a field goal and set the stage for a last-second BYU win.
Morrell has heard all this before and, frankly, he's tired of it.
"Everywhere I go people want to talk about it, and it's kind of monotonous," he says. "The questions are the same. The answers are the same. But at least they remember me for something."
Morrell, 30, returned to BYU last year and has nearly completed a degree in recreation administration. His schooling was interrupted by a brief pro football career. He has worked since then in his father's clothing business.
Morrell, an All-American, was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings, the first pick of the fourth round. He made the starting lineup, but blew out his knee in an exhibition game. The following year he made the starting lineup again, but was released near the end of the season. Indianapolis signed Morrell in the off-season, but he retired after injuring his back in exhibition play.
It was good while it lasted, but football slowed Morrell's start on the rest of his life. "I lived my whole life for football," he says. "It was a big shock when it was over. What do I do now? I'm not ashamed to say that. I was 17 years old as a freshman. I was 20 when I left BYU. I was really young and thought I knew everything. But I have no regrets."
Morrell, who at 185 pounds is 10 under his playing weight, has continued to stay in shape, but he can feel the battle scars. "I've got ruptured quads from two-a-days," he begins. "My knee still bothers me. My right shoulder has a damaged nerve. I can't throw. I have to throw underhand when I play softball."
I remember when Marv Allen intercepted a pass at the end of the Michigan game with a few seconds left. I wanted to hit someone. Marv got tackled, but I took maybe 10 extra steps and ran over the running back. It was kind of a cheap shot. I just wanted to hit someone. I got ejected from the game, and Coach Edwards was very upset. He was so mad.
Then the celebration began. I was nervous. I didn't want to end my career with him mad at me. I would never want to disappoint him. So afterward I'm standing at my locker and Coach Edwards came up behind me and tackled me. Took me right down to the floor. And he's laughing and saying, `It's OK, I'm sorry I got upset. You're one of my favorite players ever. I love you.' It was fun to see him that way, you know what I mean?
A decade later, Morrell, who is going through a divorce, still clearly misses football and a simpler time in his life. "I was watching the Hawaii game on TV one night and wishing I could go back," he says. "It sounds juvenile to say that. But life was so structured and simple. You were told what classes to go to, what time meetings were, when to eat, when to practice. You just played football and that was it. I loved going to practice, hanging out at training table, the whole college life. BYU treated me like a king, and I'm as thankful as I can be. I love all the coaches."
All this withstanding, Morrell says, "I always hated to hear guys talking about things they did. I never bring up football to anybody. If anyone wants to talk about it, I'll do it a little, but then I'll change the subject."
My favorite play was against Air Force. I came up and hit the quarterback with a full head of steam. I heard the crowd oooh. That was fun. We used to call them toe jobs, where they had to drag them off with their feet dragging.
STEVE HAYMOND (safety) My kids were watching the replays on Channel 11 one night, and one of them said, Daddy, you're on TV. It hadn't sunk in that that's what I had done.
Haymond, married and the father of three, is a CPA in Salt Lake City ("Kyle took risks," he says. "I was more controlled. I didn't make mistakes, but I didn't make the spectacular plays. That's why I'm an accountant").
A walk-on, Haymond had to wait six years to be a starter (including two mission years), but his persistence paid off. His senior season turned into a championship season. "I was sixth on the depth chart at one time," he remembers. "For two years I was on the meat squad. I went in for an interview with Coach Edwards, and he said I needed to work on my speed. I had run a 4.4 40. He didn't really know. I had this stigma of being a walk-on."
Says Haymond, who has dropped 17 pounds since his playing days, "I coached for a few years at Olympus High, and when I heard kids say, I can't do this, or that, it bothered me. I know if you work hard you can do what you want."
MARK BELLINI (wide receiver) Last night I spoke at a fireside and afterward a bunch of girls came up and talked to me. As we were talking I realized they didn't know anything about (the 1984 season). I asked them if they knew BYU had won the national championship. Not one of them knew it. That put it all in perspective.
Bellini, 30, a bachelor, is pursuing a graduate degree in environmental engineering, with a special interest in environmental cleanup. "I like education," he says. "I like learning. It's a noble thing to do. People hassle you because you don't have a job, as if that legitimizes you, but as long as provide for yourself and family, it's good. Being in school keeps me sharp."
Bellini spent two years with the Indianapolis Colts as a third-down receiver and a subsequent tryout with the Phoenix Cardinals was hampered by an injury. He might have continued his career if he hadn't witnessed the chronic knee injuries of his younger brother, Matt, who also starred at BYU.
"He can't even walk a golf course," says Mark. "I'm lucky to be healthy."
Bellini's pro career was remarkable for a player who came to BYU without a scholarship. "My goal was to be able to play as a senior, and as a sophomore I was playing for the team that won the national championship," he recalls. "It was incredible."
Looking at football now, Bellini says, "It's ridiculous how much emphasis is placed on it. It's just a bunch of guys running around on a field. It's gotten way out of hand. People immortalize this game and these players. They're just players. But I liked playing. It was a way to challenge myself."
LAKEI HEIMULI (fullback) Heimuli, who lives with his wife and three children in Salt Lake City, is a production manager for Easton, the sporting goods manufacturer. His weight has climbed to 250 pounds (35 over his playing weight), but that's not what bothers him most.
"I want to finish my degree," he says. "It's just something I always wanted to get."
Heimuli, whose family emigrated from Tonga to Hawaii when he was a boy, is two semesters short of a degree. Every time they meet, Edwards reminds Heimuli to get back in school.
Heimuli's schooling was delayed by a brief pro career. He signed with the Chicago Bears as a free agent in 1987, and saw action during the players' strike. He tried out for the Eagles and Rams, but didn't make either club.
DAVID MILLS (tight end) Mills, married and the father of three children, recently moved from Sandy to Cedar City, where he will pursue a second bachelor's degree and coach linemen at Southern Utah University. A former sales rep, he plans to become a prep coach.
Mills, who failed to catch on as a free agent with Washington and New England, got one chance to play at BYU and he made the most of it in '84, leading the Cougars in receiving in their run to the national title. If he had had his way he might have missed it all.
Stuck in a reserve role behind All-American Gordon Hudson for most of his career, Mills nearly transferred after his sophomore season. After he discussed the matter with his wife Wendy one night in their apartment, she sneaked into another room and made a call to BYU coaches, warning them that Mills was considering a transfer. They talked him into staying.
"I don't know what would have happened if she hadn't made that call," he recalls. "She didn't want me to quit and regret it . . . It was the only year I started and we won the national championship. It made all the years of backing up and special teams worth it."
LOUIS WONG (offensive tackle) After the Michigan game I walked to the other side of the field and sat on my helmet and watched the whole celebration. I was just trying to soak it in. I'm glad I did that. It would have been hard to take it all in if I had been in the middle of it. I did the same thing when they had the parade for the team in Provo. I stood on the curb and watched the team go by.
Wong, an introspective, gentle giant, lives in Highland with his wife and two children. He heads the substance-abuse prevention program at Alta High School and coaches the football team.
"It's kind of a payback," he says.
Wong's father died when he was 12, leaving his mother to raise nine children alone. She worked two or three jobs to support the family, and Louis was left "to learn from my own mistakes." He found help and guidance in a local youth program, and he has never forgotten it.
"I've always wanted to work with kids," says Wong, who taught at a private school for troubled teenagers before taking the Alta job.
Wong, who runs and lifts weights (he has carried his 290 pounds through a half-marathon), was drafted in the fifth round by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1985, but he was slowed by injury and cut from the team.
"When I didn't make it (in pro football), I thought there must be something else for me," he says. "I've found my niche in life, and I'm real content . . . I've tried to move on and have success elsewhere. People can get stuck in the past and not move forward."
LARRY HAMILTON (defensive tackle) Hamilton, who lives in Provo with his wife and four children, owns a consulting firm, which "helps businesses to work as a team." He also commutes to California to teach classes at a junior college.
"Winning the national championship showed what you can do as a team and what it takes to be a team," he says. "I use it as an example all the time in my business. People get excited when you tell them you played on a national championship team. I put it on my resume. I even use it in my brochures."
ROBERT ANAE (guard) Anae is an assistant coach at Ricks College, where he is also nearing completion of a doctorate degree. He aspires to coach at the major college level.
"The (championship) has opened doors, no doubt about it," says Anae, who is married and has two children. "Especially at the coaches' convention. Coaches ask about it. They see the ring and say, Oh, you were on that team."
People ask about it. They want to see the ring. They want to know, what was it like? It's kind of amazing. People tell me things I had forgotten. Like winning in the closing seconds against Wyoming. I didn't remember it.
LEON WHITE (linebacker) During the Michigan game my father was on the sideline. He was bedridden. He had cancer. They fixed up a gurney and brought him down on the sideline. After every series I went back to the sideline and talked to him just to check on him. To have (the national championship) game in my hometown . . . it was a storybook finish. If anything went wrong, it lifted me to see him there. I got the defensive MVP award that game. He died the following april.
After six years with the Cincinnati Bengals and two more with the L.A. Rams, White finally retired from football this year. He started at linebacker for three years with the Bengals, including one start in the Super Bowl.
"I've been looking forward to retirement the past few years," says White, who lives in San Diego with his wife and two children.
One reason White looked forward to retirement was so he could pursue his first love. "Football was never my No. 1 love," he says. "I just played it because I was good at it. I loved baseball. St. Louis was going to draft me out of high school until they found out I was going to BYU."
White began playing in a 30-and-over baseball league this year. He also owns a stereo business and plans (with occasional reminders from Edwards) to finish his college degree through home study.
Every year when the national championship game comes up, the (pro) players still bring up the subject (of BYU's championship). Some guys still don't think we deserved it. (The debate) stays alive. There are always arguments.
JIM HERRMANN (defensive tackle) Herrmann, 31, recently graduated from BYU law school, along with his buddy Steve Young ("He talked me into it," says Herm). The father of two children, he is weighing offers from law firms and planning business ventures with Young.
He'd rather be playing football. "When I see my friends go to training camp, well, I'd die to be playing now," he says.
Drafted by Dallas in the sixth round in 1985, he survived the last cut only to be released when Randy White was retrieved from injured reserve just before the season began. He signed with Cincinnati the following year and made the team, but in the first game of the season he blew out his knee against Kansas City. After two knee surgeries and two years of recovery, he failed a physical with the L.A. Raiders and retired.
"After that, I lived off my savings," he says. "I lived with Steve. I had no expenses. Just food. I just screwed around for a couple of years, played golf, biked, skied. Then I thought, I'm 29, it's time to get on with life. Within four months, I went from being a vagabond to getting married, going to law school and having my wife get pregnant."
BRAD SMITH (noseguard) Smith has settled in Jacksonville, Fla, with his wife and daughter and helps manage his father-in-law's plumbing business. People are quick to size him up as a former football player.
"I weigh 330 pounds," he says. "I wish I was kidding. I played at 250 . . . Working out is something I need to do, but I've been saying that for years."
Smith, who never took a degree, had several free-agent tryouts in the NFL, but never made a club.
"I missed football for a while, but I have a happy life and don't miss it much now," he says. "I work with youth in church, and they think it's neat. Every time BYU loses I've got to tell them why."
GLEN KOZLOWSKI (wide receiver) After the Michigan game, LaVell shooed everyone out of locker room and had the door closed. He got on his knees and thanked the Lord for this opportunity. It was humbling to see a man during his greatest moment humble himself. I've carried that with me. I've always remembered that anytime I accomplish something to humble myself and to appreciate what has happened. He didn't let it go to his head. It was touching to a lot of guys."
Kozlowski, the loud and outrageous receiver, returned his call to the Deseret News from the back of a stretch limo, doing a Barry White imitation. Having recently retired from an eight-year career as a reserve wide receiver and special teams player with the Chicago Bears, he is now a radio personality on WGN in Chicago - which is somewhat ironic for a man who never finished his degree in speech therapy.
Koz fills in for the station's regular talk-show host, leading discussions about "abortion, sex, everything," says Koz, who also will handle pregame, post-game and sideline coverage of Bears games.
"I have a face for radio!" Koz says. And a gift for gab. He got the radio job largely because the local media has long deemed him a "great interview."
Koz was a tough, sticky-fingered receiver for the Cougars, but his collegiate career was cut short with a knee injury during his senior season in '85. He originally hurt the knee in the fourth game, and when he returned to action five weeks later he hurt the knee again, causing more serious and permanent damage.
"I shouldn't have come back," he says. "I tore one ligament the first time, and then I tore all the ligaments against Wyoming. It was my decision."
The knee limited Koz's entire professional career and finally forced his retirement. "I was the greatest one-legged player ever in the NFL," he says. "I had a hard time cutting right. The way I survived was special teams. I made a career out of it."
Koz's hard-nosed, aggressive style of play made him a favorite of coach Mike Ditka. "The players called him Ditka's son," says Koz's wife, Julie.
The left knee continues to bother Kozlowski, which partly accounts for his current weight - 250 pounds, about 30 over his pro playing weight. "I can't run anymore," he says. "I can't even walk a golf course without my knee swelling up. I'll need an artificial knee. I went out the way I wanted to. I left it all on the field. If I could die, I'd die on a football field."
Koz, 31, who plans to move to Utah someday and coach high school football, is active in charitable work with children. He and Julie have four children - all boys and all football players. The former wild man of BYU football (he was once kicked out of BYU for a year for his off-the-field activities) has been domesticated.
"He has settled down," says Julie. "People who meet him can't believe he doesn't drink or do drugs, because he's so wound up."
"I went to BYU a punk and left a young man, a father and husband," says Koz.
ADAM HAYSBERT (wide receiver) Haysbert, a bachelor at 32, never completed his communications degree, but he communicates anyway. He is a licensed (non-denominational) minister in Philadelphia. He also is a courier for an office supply company and owns and bakes for his gourmet cookie and muffin business.
"During the latter part of my football career, when I was recovering from knee surgery, I baked cookies," he explains. "I experimented a lot. A friend said we can make something out of this. We came up with eight types of cookies and five types of muffins. The cookies are gourmet, very unusual. My cookies are totally different from anything out there and very tasty."
Signed as a free agent by Seattle in '85, Haysbert was waived near the end of training camp. During the next couple of years he tried out with other NFL teams, but never made a roster.
DAVE WRIGHT (offensive tackle) I argued with a guy one night that we deserved the championship. I had to sit down and explain it to him. I'm still defending it.
Wright, 30 and married, is a deputy sheriff in Petaluma, Calif., but still regrets never finishing school. "I was young and stupid," he says. "I wish I had gotten my degree."
He had several free-agent tryouts in the NFL and CFL, but failed to make a club. He worked odd jobs for a time before turning to police work.
"I work the graveyard shift," says the 275-pound Wright. "I'd rather work nights than days. You get a different breed of people at night. More things are going on. There's less of the petty stuff you get during the day. I'm working the area I went to high school in. I run into guys I went to school with . . . My size helps, but sometimes it's a hinderance. If someone starts something with me, he's not normal. He may be dangerous."
Wright coaches and plays on a full-contact football team that is comprised of sheriffs. "I play defense because I never got to in college," he says.
KURT GOUVEIA (linebacker) Judged to be too small and too slow, Gouveia wasn't drafted until the eighth round by Washington. BYU coaches were baffled. "He's only the best we've ever had around here," Edwards said at the time. Nine years and two Super Bowl appearances later, Gouveia is still playing for the Redskins. One month shy of his 30th birthday, he's led the NFL in tackles for two years.
"My goal is to play 10 years and to get out while I can walk and talk," he says.
Gouveia, who has a wife and four children, owns a graphics and events management businesses and does charity work in his native Hawaii and Washington. He also plans to return to BYU to finish his degree.
"It's a promise I made to my dad," he says. "I'll probably enroll at BYU. I'm really considering moving out there. My career's coming to an end."
TREVOR MATICH (center) A surprise No. 1 draft pick of the New England Patriots in 1985, Matich is still playing in the NFL. In the last five years he has played for the Lions, Jets and Colts and this year joined the Redskins.
Matich's biggest asset is his versatility. He has played all six line positions, including extended time (and one starting assignment) at tight end, and works as a no-look long-snapper. He's never started more than six consecutive games at the same position.
"That's what's kept me in the league," says Matich, who, at 32, says he'll play "as long as they let me."
His weight has climbed 30 pounds to 294 since his collegiate days. ("I eat everything that's slower than me. Fortunately, I get slower as I get older.") Meanwhile, Matich, a bachelor, is a hustling entrepreneur. He owns his own business - The Resource Network - which "utilizes and prepares corporations and consumer networks to tap into the most efficient technology that's available." In his dorm room at training camp, Matich surrounded himself with a computer, printer and a fax machine.
"Business is booming," he said. "When I'm done with football, they're going to stop paying me . . . I've given away a lot of the money I've made. That's fine. I'll make a lot of money in my life. I helped my family do some things that needed being done. I'm glad I had the resources to do it."
Matich left school before he finished his communications degree, but he vows to remedy that ("But my degree will have little to do with what I do for a living").
MARV ALLEN (linebacker) Allen, who lives with his wife and four children in Rochester, Minn., finished medical school at Georgetown in 1990 and completed his residency in 1993. He is now training for a specialty in cardiology at the prestigious Mayo Clinic. He has three remaining years of training, and then he plans to open a private practice somewhere in the Intermountain West.
Allen spent the '84 season both winning a national championship and preparing for med school. "I was determined to do both," he says. "The thought of dropping either never came up. I studied hard on weekends and tried to get things done on road trips. I stayed until the library closed and I got up early."
MARK ALLEN (cornerback) Allen, 33, who has three children, runs his own mortgage broker business in Orange County and oversees the budding gymnastics careers of his two daughters.
"The only things that matter to me are my family and being happy," he says. "Business is not exciting. It's the same thing day to day."
Allen always was a family man. At BYU he wore a towel on his uniform that had pictures of his kids and wife on it. "I've still got the towel," he says.
Allen was another underdog who made it big at BYU. Unrecruited out of high school (probably because of his rail-thin body), he attended junior college. He lived in his car and showered in the P.E. building until he met his future wife.
He planned to be a high school coach, but left BYU 10 credits shy of a degree. He left school to try out for the Green Bay Packers, but didn't make the team. He has considered returning to BYU for his degree.
When people argue we shouldn't have won it, I just say, You're right. We shouldn't have. But we did.
Tomorrow: Whatever happened to Robbie Bosco and his arm? In a candid interview, Bosco explains what went wrong after the brilliant '84 season. Also profiled: A horribly deformed knee, drug rehab and divorce have dogged former guard Craig Garrick since his playing days at BYU.