BYU football: Faith in program’s direction, leadership a key to success
"It was a great experience and I think often about that season," Dye said. "Hopefully we’ll continue to live in that moment but we should hopefully be experiencing bigger and better from here on out. I expect for that season, sometime soon, to be eclipsed by another great."
Dye continues to have a vested interest in the program, in addition to being an alumni. His son, Trey, will join the Cougars this fall.
"I want him to relish this moment, to enjoy the opportunity to be in it. This is why you do it at this level — the fanfare, the expectations," Dye said about his son, who will play wide receiver. "But also remember that people do look up to you and you have a great responsibility to protect the brand."
White, a linebacker at BYU from 1981-85, finished his four-year Cougar career with 249 tackles, 17 sacks and seven forced fumbles. During the 1984 national championship season, he had 90 tackles, 13 quarterback hurries and a team-best 10 pass breakups.
In the Holiday Bowl win over Michigan, White finished with nine tackles, two sacks and a tackle for loss.
He was also a winner. White played a pivotal role in the program-best 25-game winning streak that occurred during his time at the school and helped set up the national championship run.
"Thirty years is a long time. For people to remember one of the greatest teams is really exciting," White said as the 30th anniversary of the national championship approaches. "It's exciting for me to see the younger generation remember what we did back then and I think it helps the program as a whole. I think today's players learn a lot from it and it can help them in their upcoming season."
Both the 1984 and 1996 teams had their share of challenges to overcome as well — many of those dealt with public perception.
In 1984, NBC announcer Bryant Gumbel said BYU played a "Bo-Diddley Tech" schedule. The Cougars matched up a Michigan team in the Holiday Bowl that finished the year 6-6. Yet, BYU was the lone undefeated team at the end of the year, climbing through the rankings that season and earned the sport's top prize.
White cited the team's depth, with many players moving on to the pros, as a big reason for one of the greatest eras of BYU football during the early 1980s. He parlayed that collegiate success into an eight-year NFL career.
"It was just an amazing time for BYU, an amazing time for our team," White said. "It definitely put BYU on the map. That is part of why BYU is so successful today."
The 1996 team, despite a 13-1 regular-season record, was snubbed by the Bowl Alliance and had its share of naysayers. Dye cited the team's ability to excel consistently in the day-to-day grind and stay relatively healthy while having strong depth as reasons why BYU had such a memorable year.
"That was one of the most beautiful things about the 14-1 season was being able to go out there every week and someone would say something, 'Well, they’re not serious, they lost to Washington. Look where Washington is at. What are they going to do this week? They’re going to fail, they’re going to stumble,'" Dye said. "And we just continued to pick up speed and gain momentum."
Dye said he loosely recalled reading a couple of writers' opinions, after the Cougars' 1984 national championship, that BYU would not win another national title.
"Sometimes you feel like there’s a power out there that doesn’t really want to see us on that landscape because if we do get to that landscape, that says something about them," Dye said. "No, that says something about us. Let us say what we want to say."
Winning, like the teams Dye and White were a part of, says a lot.
"There are a lot of obstacles, but winning overcomes all the obstacles," White said. "BYU has to stay relevant by winning games."
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @brandonljudd
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