Defining a champion: 30 memories of BYU's national championship, 30 years later

Published: Saturday, July 26 2014 6:38 p.m. MDT

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In early January 1985, Edwards, accompanied by Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, goes to Washington and meets with President Ronald Reagan at the White House in honor of BYU's national title. Edwards presents Reagan with a signed football and a BYU jacket.

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Danbury, CT

Hey, I was there in S. Diego that night and a student at BYU that year. I cheered as long and loud as anyone and was excited to see the Cougs reach nr. 1.

However, after 30 years, I'm sad to see that was our pinnacle of success. A victory vs. a 6-4 Michigan team on a non New Year's Day bowl. We started '85 with a bang and were in contention to repeat as NC's in mid October before falling to (ahem) UTEP and getting beat on one lousy play by UCLA at home. Yes, we beat Miami in '90 (I was there too) but lost to Oregon in the weeks following. We never went to any BCS bowls while Utah, TCU and Boise all went and won twice.

In short, our glory days are all in the distant past and I'm kind of tired of the hype. I don't think there's any excuse with an expanding church membership base. We hire mediocre coaches with no experience in their role (Bronco, Doman, et al) and just don't play with any spirit or drive. The Virginia game was an absolute low last year.

Let's live for the future and step it up, rather than live in the past...

Santa Monica, CA

I understand why so few people are commenting about this. Few outside of Provo consider this to have been real. I'm sorry Cougar fans, it's seen as an blip on the NC list by almost every knowledgable sports fan and writer in the nation. This team had the stars line up in the right way and it should be congratulated for a wonderful run against a weak schedule. But you played a 6-4 Michigan team that was ranked 19th and finished the year unranked. I have talked to so many diehard BYU fans who will admit as much. No TCU-Boise State-or U of Utah fan would trade any of their BCS Busters seasons for this. The greatest thing about the '84 season and the resulting disputed championship trophy is that it set the wheels in motion for never allowing the same thing to happen again. Without this aberration, Utah's '04 and '08 BCS Bowl appearances could never have happened. So you see, BYU? In many ways you are relevant.

provo, UT

Yes, BYU's title run was controversial, and I have no problem with people claiming they didn't deserve it, but there are a couple of things I would like to clarify:

First, Michigan played 2 games in 1984 where their opponent was ranked number one at the time of the game - they beat Miami and lost to BYU. Michigan was a much better team than people give them credit for. They were decimated by injuries during the season and lost several games, but they were much healthier and were playing much better at the end of the season. In fact, many prognosticators were positive the Wolverines would destroy BYU. Of course they were wrong.

Secondly, Washington, who complained very loudly about BYU being ranked ahead of them, was offered the opportunity to play BYU in a bowl game and they declined. Then, when almost everyone predicted a Washington victory, BYU absolutely destroyed the Huskies in 1985.

Was BYU the best team in the nation in 1984? That is certainly debatable, but they were clearly one of the very best, won every game they played, and were voted as the national champions by coaches and members of the media.

Glendale, AZ

I see merit in @eastcoastcoug and @xert's comments. It was still a fun season and a fun win.

Farmington, UT

"No TCU-Boise State-or U of Utah fan would trade any of their BCS Busters seasons for this"

I agree that the U would proudly hold onto a 2nd place finish over an NC. Then they could throw a parade!!

South Jordan, UT

Wendell: I am not a BYU hater and know they weren't the best team that year but BYU controlled what they had to control. It actually changed college football. Well said in your article.

Genola, UT

Apparently the article has caused a small stir in Santa Monica.

Draper, UT

Is anyone else tired of hearing about this? It was a great accomplishment when it happened but to continually dredge it up makes it appear that this is all BYU was or ever will be. Then again...

Spanish Fork, Ut

"Panther lineman Bill Fralic indirectly mocks BYU’s honor code and values, bragging about his three favorite hobbies: drinking, fornication and golf". Golf!? Golf!? No wonder the cougars were upset.

Orange County, CA

Enjoyed seeing Jim Murray's quote - one of the greatest sportswriters of all time.

Spanish Fork, UT


Finally, a down to Earth Y fan. As a HUGE Utes fan, I fully agree with what you say. BYU really hasn't done much of anything in 30 years. Sure the Utes have two awesome seasons in the BCS era('04,'08) but are struggling mightily in the PAC 12. I don't hate on the Y, nor do I camp on their boards with negativity like some. "Fans" on both sides do it. I have too many good friends and family who are huge Y fans to be that way. I hate it when Utah and BYU play at the same time, because I like to watch both...live, not DVR. I also try to catch some Aggie games as well. BYU REALLY needs to get into a conference. I would much rather have them in the PAC 12 than Colorado.

Here's to hoping all schools have a solid bright future ahead of them, Utah State as well. Life is way too short to hate on each other and point out all the negativity from each school all the time. Go Utes, Cougs and Aggies!!

Columbus, OH

No, not tired of hearing about it. Why would you be tired of hearing about it unless you don't like BYU? It's the thirty year anniversary. This is a local newspaper. It is fitting for it to do a piece on BYU's championship year. If you don't like it, don't read it. It's great. It was a great accomplishment, worthy of recollection and I hope it is something BYU football coaches and players will reflect on for vision and motivation in years to come.

Farmington, UT

Controversy seems to follow BYU. It was ever so, and I suspect ever will be. All I know is that my boys and I have had great fun over the years watching BYU played against and beat nearly all of the great college football programs as an underdog, many of them when they were highly ranked. I don't lose a lot of sleep over BYU's current slump. All programs go through cycles. What goes around comes around. Go Cougars!

Moses Lake, WA

Who cares? BYU won the the national championship in 84. Get over it.

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