Before Steve Young cemented his football legacy at BYU, he was sitting on the bench at BYU basketball games — next to the visiting team.

Young reminisced on those days during the 1980s as a guest on “BYU Sports Nation” on Friday, describing his side gig for BYU basketball.

“It was my freshman year and Floyd Johnson was the equipment manager. He had been there since Brigham Young, I think,” Young joked. “I went to him and said, ‘Look, I wanna watch the basketball team. What can I do to help you so I could go up and watch?’”

Johnson said Young could be the visiting team’s club manager, an opportunity Young jumped all over. As part of the job, Young was tasked with bringing towels into the visiting team’s locker room.

“That whole basketball season, you can go back and watch the video, I’m sitting at the end of the visiting bench with towels and handing them out to the visiting team,” he said.

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As a young student-athlete, the Hall of Fame quarterback was inspired by the BYU basketball players.

He agreed with “Sports Nation” hosts Jarom Jordan and Spencer Linton on the 1980-81 athletic season being BYU’s best ever. That’s when the men’s golf team won the national championship, BYU basketball made it to the Elite Eight and BYU football capped off their one-loss season with an upset of SMU in the Holiday Bowl.

“I watched Danny Ainge, Greg Kite and Scott Runia and Fred Roberts,” he said. “I was thrilled as just a young, kinda aspirational athlete to watch the greatness of that team and who they were. Obviously, I watched all of what Jim (McMahon) had done, so how could you beat that? I don’t know how we’d beat that year.”

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Young called BYU’s 1980 team “nutty” with how they were able to play and revolutionize the game of football.

“They were beating people 70-2, you know. I mean like Jim was throwing the ball thousands and thousands of yards, and the rest of college football was still running the Split-T or veer,” he said. “We were so far ahead of everybody else, and we were just abusing the system because we were so far ahead of it. It felt very familiar when I got to the 49ers with the West Coast offense and what they were doing and abusing the league because they were so far ahead as well. There’s real resonance between what we were doing in the late ’70s and ‘80s.”

Young believes his predecessor at BYU, Jim McMahon, shouldn’t be excluded from the praise of the BYU teams in the ‘80s. He considers McMahon one of the best quarterbacks technically, alongside his San Francisco 49ers predecessor Joe Montana.

“He technically was the most sound quarterback that I’ve ever been around and maybe ever was,” he said. “For all of his craziness, he was technically right down the middle, man. He was amazing, and I don’t know if there was anyone that threw the ball like he did as early as he did in pros or college.”

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