They had four minutes and 36 seconds to travel 83 yards.

At stake was the national collegiate football championship.And the guy leading the way was hobbling around like he had rocks in his shoes. Actually, Robbie Bosco had a badly sprained left ankle, strained ligaments in his knee and a cracked rib - courtesy of the Michigan Wolverines.

Somehow, he pulled himself and the team together to march into history on that December night in 1984 in San Diego's Jack Murphy Stadium. The 13-yard touchdown pass he drilled to Kelly Smith with 1:23 left to play may have been the most important in Brigham Young University annals. It gave the Cougars a 24-17 victory, an undefeated season and the national title.

The ESPN announcers, Paul Maguire and Howard David, were impressed.

"The guts of this young man is unbelievable," chimed Maguire.

"One of the most courageous young men I've seen," added David.

It seems fitting that the highlight of Bosco's career was mirrored with pain, because for the following four years that's what dominated his college and brief pro experience.

A shoulder injury that bothered him most of his senior season kept him from ever getting a genuine shot at pro football. It also made his last hurrah in college in 1985 a topsy-turvy one and one of mental as well as physical anguish. He was booed and blamed for much of the team's lackluster performance during a peaks-and-valleys 11-3 season.

He never really got a chance in the pros. He missed his first two seasons entirely because of the shoulder problem and tried to make a comeback this year, his arm progressing to the point where he could once again spiral the ball downfield. But a back injury forced him to miss numerous practices and scrimmages and he was cut after seeing just spot duty in one exhibition game.

He decided that overcoming the injuries and rustiness from missing two years just wasn't worth the hassle of trying to hook on with another team _ his situation was akin to having a third and 39 with the opponent playing prevent defense.

And so, Robbie Bosco the quarterback student is now Robbie Bosco the quarterback teacher. He has accepted a contract to be the quarterback coach at Idaho State University, where he rejoins former BYU assistant coach Garth Hall, the new Idaho State head coach. Guess what system they're going to use?

Bosco's still in his chosen profession, just in another capacity than the one he envisioned four years ago when he was chewing up Bo Schembechler's Wolverines.

And while the more heralded quarterbacks he succeeded are still reading defenses in the NFL and have had their share of glory, it's fitting to remember that none of them, not Mr. hard-as-nails Jim McMahon, steady Marc Wilson or the NCAA's all-time single season total offense leader, Steve Young, ever did what Robbie Bosco did - lead the BYU Cougars to an undefeated season and the national championship.

It arguably was the Cougars' finest hour. And the man making the biggest contribution to it was arguably Robbie Bosco.