Dick Harmon: Hall of Fame BYU quarterback Marc Wilson talks about Jim McMahon, his days in Provo
Mark A. Philbrick, BYU
Former BYU quarterback Marc Wilson, a College Football Hall of Fame inductee and consensus All-American, sat down with Deseret News columnist Dick Harmon during BYU's media day last week. It was a reunion of sorts. Harmon’s first nationally published sports article was a feature on Wilson that ran in the Sporting News in 1979.
Q: Could you give us an update on what you are doing these days?
Wilson: I’ve actually started a startup company six months ago. I started it here in Utah. We have the rights to a brain health product out of Canada. It has about 20 clinical health studies behind it. It’s something for everybody. It’s all about calming, clarity and coping, and it's called 'Q Sciences.' My wife and I have four kids and we’ve been married for 36 years. Three of them are married. All have graduated from BYU and they are spread out, which makes it harder. We have three grandchildren. Life is good.
Q: How much do you keep track of your old team? Has BYU’s independence increased exposure from your perspective?
Wilson: BYU or the Raiders? I don’t follow (BYU) religiously, but after the games I pick up the paper and read about the games and the stats and see how everyone did. It’s not as easy in Seattle as it is here to follow. (Independence) is interesting, but I’m an old-school guy who misses rivalries and all that history. Now we don’t talk about that stuff. It's different schools. They are great schools, but schools we don’t have much history with.
Q: You and fellow College Football Hall of Fame quarterback Jim McMahon shared playing time in 1978. What do you remember about playing with McMahon?
Wilson: I loved playing with McMahon. Jim was a great player and teammate. The thing I love the most about Jim is during my junior year (in 1978), Wally English was coordinator, (and) it was a rough year. I don’t talk about it much. We had been so prolific with our offense and Wally came and changed everything and I don’t know if we even led the WAC in passing that year. Doug Scovil came back the next year and we got back to leading the nation. The interesting thing about Wally is he wanted to change everything offensively because, if he didn’t, he wouldn't be given credit. And he wouldn’t be given credit if it were the same players Doug had and system Doug used. One thing he wanted to do is change the quarterback. I’ve often thought about it. Jim was a young guy and he didn’t want to sit on the bench. It would have been so easy for Jim to fall into that, but he’d have nothing to do with it; he recognized it for what it was and he didn’t want any part of it. I’ve always loved him for that.
Q: What do you remember most about your seven-touchdown performance in your first college start at Colorado State?
Wilson: I remember a lot of things about that. The night before that game — well the whole week before that game — I was a nervous wreck. It’s one thing to be a backup and play the last minutes of the final quarter when you are up 50 points on everybody and then actually start. I got to play late in games because we were up by a lot and Gifford Nielsen led the nation in about every category you could imagine. The night before the game I was wandering around the hotel nervous as heck, going in and out of my room and saw one of these postcards and decided I’d write my dad a postcard. I wrote him, ‘Dad, I’m dedicating this game to you because most likely I’ll never start another college game.’ He’s kept that card to this day.”
Q: In 1979 at San Diego State in your last regular-season game as a senior you threw three touchdown passes in your first three passes on national TV. What’s one of your best memories of that day?
Wilson: I remember in warm-ups, I couldn’t throw a spiral. A football is oblong and sometimes when you throw it spirals and other times it doesn’t. In warm-ups, I couldn’t complete a pass. I couldn’t do it. Doug Scovil didn’t want to take the team into the locker room until his quarterback had at least completed one pass, so he kept us out there forever until I completed one. When I finally did, he said, ‘OK, great. Let’s go in the locker room.’ The whole time before the game, I’m sitting there in the locker room thinking this is really a great time to forget how to throw the football. We’re on national TV and I forgot how to throw a pass and that’s with no defense and San Diego State is going to bring out a defense. It was crazy.”
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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