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BYU football: Cougars captured attention of the nation in 1984

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the seventh in an eight-part series celebrating the 25th anniversary of BYU's 1984 national college football championship.

TODAY: From around the country, here are the most memorable quotes from the most memorable season in BYU's football history.

SUNDAY: Winning a national championship creates high expectations — can BYU ever win another national title?

During the 1984 season, BYU captured the imagination of the college football world with its undefeated season, capped by the national championship.

The Cougars were thrust into the spotlight like never before. They were both derided and praised on the national landscape as the media descended on Provo to figure out what was going on with this team from the Western Athletic Conference.

After sifting through the archives, the Deseret News has unearthed dozens of memorable quotes from that memorable season.

What follows is a recap of the 1984 campaign in the words of those who observed it, experienced it or commented on it.

"At last, BYU is in a rebuilding year. Quarterback Steve Young and tight end Gordon Hudson have moved on, along with the rest of the backfield and three all-WAC defenders."

— Sports Illustrated, in its 1984 College Football Preview. SI picked BYU to finish No. 3 in the WAC, behind New Mexico and Hawaii.

"Before this year's season-opener, BYU players were very aware that fabled Pitt lineman Bill Fralic had gone public with a list of his favorite activities — drinking, fornication, and golf. At least two of those activities are greatly at odds with the Code of Honor. Was Fralic indirectly mocking BYU values a week before the big game? 'I think everybody thought it was kinda cute,' says Trevor Matich, the Cougars' starting center. 'I like it when other teams try to intimidate us by growling at us and saying things, because it never works. It's like, You can growl all you want. We're going to throw the ball over you and score a touchdown and go drink some Gatorade.' "

— Sport Magazine

"We played both of them, lucky me, and I think BYU is better. We felt we had a chance against Oklahoma, but against BYU all I wanted to do was get the game over with and get out of there."

— Baylor coach Grant Teaff

"I just had a feeling. Something told me to do it. I held on for dear life."

— Kyle Morrell, describing his amazing tackle against Hawaii, when he dove over the top of the opposing offensive line and tackled the quarterback at the goal line and preventing a touchdown late in the game.

"Sometimes we'd win by 20 and just pray on Monday we didn't drop in the polls. You'd think, man, I wish we would have won by 40, just to be sure."

— Defensive lineman

Jim Herrmann

"Everybody knows they're going to pass. Nobody can stop them. And give BYU some points for being a winner with a clean program, something in contrast to, ah, some other teams. The only way an NCAA investigator would show up in Provo was if he took a wrong turn in Albuquerque."

— Gannett News Service

"There's the Big Ten, the Big Eight, and the Big One — BYU."

— Wyoming coach

Al Kincaid

"BYU ought to go to the Pac-10, like Arizona and Arizona State a few years back."

— UTEP coach Bill Yung

"People who don't think we play anybody ought to go to Hawaii with us once and see some of their players wearing war paint under their helmets. Everybody shoots for us in our conference. This year we were like the bowl game for Utah and Utah State."

— BYU tight end

David Mills

"Since I've been here, I've seen every conceivable defense. Rush two, drop nine; rush nine, drop two; man-to-man; double-zone; double man-to-man ... but the beauty of our offense is we can change just like that."

— Wide receiver

Glen Kozlowski

"In those rare frustrating moments, as coach LaVell Edwards strolls quietly around this immaculate campus of blue and white, he can take consolation from this: no one can deprive BYU of its rightful place in college quarterback lore."

— Sporting News

"The Mormon Church, thanks to an aggressive missionary program, is one of the fastest-growing religions in the world, and whenever BYU's football team plays nowadays, the crowd includes a solid contingent of the flock. It's a religion-and-football package to rival Notre Dame's."

— Sport Magazine

"How can you rank BYU No. 1? Who'd they play — Bo Diddley Tech?"

— Today Show host

Bryant Gumbel

"This is the type of scenario we've been trying to build here for six years. It's nice to know that we have a team in our game capable of generating national publicity, publicity we didn't ask for. What they (the media) didn't realize is, if we would have accepted cash and allowed BYU to leave, it would have defeated everything we've been trying to build here. There was a lot of speculation that BYU was trying to get out of its commitment. That's absolutely not true. They've been super. They have a contract, and they will honor it."

— Holiday Bowl

President John Reid

"Win or lose against Michigan, the uproar will increase from the critics, led by the Orange Bowl, promoting its game between No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 4 Washington for the national title."

— USA Today

"I hate to say this, but when BYU committed to the passing game several years ago, they just outcoached a lot of people."

— Michigan coach Bo Schembechler before the Holiday Bowl

"I think we have as legitimate a claim on it as anyone. More than anyone, for that matter. I'm sure Nebraska would love to go back and play Syracuse, Oklahoma would love to go back and play Kansas and South Carolina would like to play Navy, and so on down the line. We had our Kansases, our Syracuses, and our Navies, and this particular group of guys has always come out winners."

— LaVell Edwards

"People think we shouldn't be any good because we're just Mormons. If we were 0-12, everybody would say it's because we're Mormons. But if we're 12-0, nobody will say it's because we're Mormons."

— Quarterback Robbie Bosco, to Sports Illustrated

"For years, people said we couldn't win because we're a church school, because of the missions, when the kids go off to teach love and compassion, because it's a restrictive environment, because of the school's location, because there aren't many good players in Utah and four Division I schools are trying to get the few there are. But you can find guys who'll accept this environment. Rather than worry about what we couldn't do, I set out to concentrate on what we could."

— Edwards, to Sports Illustrated

"For the entire first half of the Orange Bowl (between Oklahoma and Washington), BYU was never mentioned. And when (NBC play-by-play announcer) Don Criqui finally intoned the name of the Cougars, late in the third quarter, he referred to their coach, LaVell Edwards, as 'Ladell Anderson,' who makes his living as BYU's basketball coach. Not only did he make no effort to correct himself, but he repeated the same glaring gaffe at the end of the telecast."

— Bill Lyon, Knight-Ridder Newspapers

"I've seen BYU on film against Pitt and Baylor. They're fun to watch. I made the remarks earlier in the year about how much I enjoyed watching their offense, though it probably wouldn't be any fun playing against it."

— Oklahoma coach

Barry Switzer

"We are pleased, very proud and highly honored that the 1984 Cougars have been recognized as the No. 1 football team in America. Winning a national championship is a remarkable accomplishment — an accomplishment earned through very hard work and deep personal dedication on the part of those involved in our athletic program. We congratulate Coach LaVell Edwards, his coaching associates and all the players on this most significant achievement — truly a milestone in the history of BYU athletics."

— BYU President Jeffrey R. Holland

"Consider that playing Michigan in the Holiday Bowl certainly wasn't BYU's first choice. It's not the Cougars' fault that all the bigwig teams took the money and ran to bigger bowls where they called press conferences to brag about how they'd bloody BYU's noses if only they could get at 'em."

— Orlando Sentinal's Larry Guest

"BYU isn't No.1 by default. They're No. 1 by winning week in and week out."

— ESPN's Bob Ley

"Sounds like a No. 1 Team to me. Sounds like a team Grantland Rice would have scrolled a poem about."

— Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray

"I think a real championship team wins at its worst moment. ... and with Robbie Bosco half-crippled, the Cougars still won the Holiday Bowl."

— Syracuse Herald-America writer Rick Bonnell

"Pay no attention to the final score. Margin of victory is as irrelevant here as comparative schedules. Size of heart, fighting spirit, and the will as well as talent to win are more important indicators of championship mettle, and BYU passed the toughest test."

— San Diego Union sports editor Barry Lorge after the Holiday Bowl

"I feel we're No. 1, but it is out of our hands now. I know I'm going to celebrate — I'm going to take some non-alcoholic cider and dump it over my head."

— Kozlowski after winning the Holiday Bowl

"I don't put a whole lot of stock in polls. Polls are just opinions. On a given weekend, any of the top 15 teams could be beaten. LaVell is a great coach and he has a great program. I want to congratulate LaVell and BYU."

— Miami coach

Jimmy Johnson

"Those who throw stones at the Cougars for playing stiffs and derelicts (New Mexico, Utah State, Colorado State, et al.) do so from glass houses. No one was safe. Oklahoma lost to Kansas, which lost to Vanderbilt, which lost to Tulane, which lost to Pittsburgh — which lost to BYU. Washington lost to USC, which lost to Notre Dame, which lost to Air Force — which lost to BYU. Florida lost to Miami, which lost to Boston College, which lost to Penn State, which lost to Pittsburgh — which lost to BYU. The bottom line is, as one bemused professor noted in charting the above, was that 'everybody has lost to somebody who has lost to somebody ... who has lost to BYU.' But nobody beat anybody who beat BYU. Case dismissed."

— Sports Illustrated's John Underwood

"Consider that at BYU every student — a term that also includes the football players — signed a Code of Honor upon applying for admission. The applicant had to answer a number of questions affirmatively, including: 'Do you live the law of chastity?' This includes the abstinence from all sexual relations outside the bonds of marriage. 'Do you observe the Word of Wisdom?' This includes abstinence from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea and coffee. 'Do you observe high standards of taste and decency?' This includes refraining from disorderly, lewd, indecent or obscene conduct or expression. OK, now that you know the rules, go out and recruit yourself a football team."

— Douglas S. Looney, Sports Illustrated

"BYU won 'em all. It's like a bunch of kids on a playground. If one boy whips everybody else, he gets to say he's the champ. Now if somebody doesn't like it, he's got to go fight the champ. BYU whipped everybody. If Barry Switzer has a problem with that, hey, Provo's on most road maps. Rev up the bus, or zip it."

— Los Angeles Times'

Jim Murray

"Washington is the best football team we've played this year. They deserve to be number one. They are better than BYU, I guarantee you that."

— Switzer after his team's loss to Washington in the

Orange Bowl

"It is poetic justice that Barry Switzer's Oklahoma team should play like Bo Diddley Tech on national TV after so much rhetoric about BYU's struggle against a 6-5 team in the Holiday Bowl, weak schedules and the like. However, this is a special moment in time for BYU football and perhaps all Division I teams in general. We have entered into an era where football championships can no longer be won on tradition or intimidation, but must be won by the old fashioned way of honest effort and hard work."

— Cougar Club

President Dale McCann

e-mail: jeffc@desnews.com