'It all came together': 30 years later, BYU players reflect on winning the 1984 national championship
Mark Philbrick, BYU
PROVO — Because of the controversy and drama surrounding BYU's national championship in 1984, Trevor Matich, an ESPN college football analyst and an offensive lineman on that '84 team, believes many observers frequently overlook the talent level the Cougars had that season.
At the same time, Matich admits "the power of miracles" played a key role in that championship campaign.
This year, BYU is commemorating the 30th anniversary of its national championship season, and the ’84 team will be honored Thursday, Sept. 11, during the home game against Houston. On Sept. 12, BYU will host a dinner and reunion for members of the 1984 team.
Matich and former linebacker Leon White were invited to participate in BYU's media day on June 23 to talk about that magical season.
When BYU opened its Legacy Hall a decade ago, Matich remembers watching a DVD of the 1984 highlights on a TV screen there.
“I own that DVD, but I had never watched it,” Matich said. “That was after I had played 12 years in the NFL and was in broadcasting. So I had a lot of football behind me and I was someone who evaluates football. (Then) I went back and watched that for the first time, and I saw it through those eyes.”
And what did he see?
“I saw a defensive line that played with low pad level and drove the offensive line back to create a new line of scrimmage. I saw the linebackers fly downhill and when they hit ballcarriers, it shocked them,” Matich said. “I saw a secondary that played as smart as any secondary I’ve ever been around at any level. They were smart, they were aggressive. They were never in the wrong spot and when they got to you, they made their presence known. Our offensive line, all five guys were in NFL training camps when they left BYU. We had a deep group of skill players and our quarterback is rightly in his place as one of the top quarterbacks ever to play here.
"So when you look at just the talent on that team, it was strong.”
The 1984 Cougars produced a host of players that became NFL draft picks, including Matich, White, safety Kyle Morrell, punter/placekicker Lee Johnson, offensive lineman Louis Wong, defensive back Jeff Sprowls, wide receiver Glen Kozlowski, running back Vai Sikahema, linebacker Kurt Gouveia and quarterback Robbie Bosco.
Matich, White, Johnson, Kozlowski, Sikahema and Gouveia were among those that enjoyed productive NFL careers.
“We were solid in every phase. Our special teams could return punts and kickoffs for touchdowns. We had one of the best punters in the country, who was also our field goal kicker,” said Sikahema, who played in two NFL Pro Bowls. “Our defense — I love reading about how great BYU’s defenses have been — but there were more players on that defense that went on to the NFL than any other team BYU has produced. There were a bunch of guys that played in the NFL. And just didn’t play a couple of years, but double-digit years. At almost every position, we had guys that played in the NFL. We were loaded at every position — offense, defense and special teams. I think the true test of how good a team is what happens to its players when they’re done (with college).”
That ’84 team, which finished with a 13-0 record, also featured plenty of intangible qualities.
“You add camaraderie, and miracles, and it ended up being a perfect storm in favor of BYU,” Matich said. “I don’t want to say we were the most talented team ever to play here, but we were the team where it all came together. We feel very fortunate and blessed to be the recipient of that.”
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