PROVO — Turns out that donning royal blue uniforms wasn't a one-time thing for BYU, after all.
The school announced Friday the Cougars will wear royal blue for the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 22 against Oregon State — just as they did in their 26-23 overtime victory over Utah on Nov. 28 — as one more tribute to BYU's 1984 national championship team.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall said playing in those throwback uniforms marks another way for his team to honor that '84 squad on the 25th anniversary of claiming the national title. BYU defeated Michigan in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 21, 1984, capping a perfect season.
"The seniors were so passionate after the (Utah) game — not only before the game with the chance to wear them — they wanted a chance to wear them one more time," said Mendenhall. "The motive was simply that if they could draw attention to the national championship team on even a broader scale and broader perspective, that would be a great thing for the program."
Mendenhall added that team leaders wrote a "formal request" to school administrators asking for an opportunity to wear the royal blue jerseys again.
"With the increased exposure of the bowl game (which will be televised by ESPN), I think this is a fantastic way to continue our tribute to the accomplishments of a remarkable team," Mendenhall said.
"It was unanimous," senior linebacker Matt Bauman said of the players' request to wear royal blue. "Everybody on the team loved it. It was something that brought us together. It was an opportunity to represent the history of this program and bring the tradition back. It was kind of symbolic of our team having four 10-win seasons. That winning tradition, symbolized by that color, is back. We want that winning tradition to be here to stay."
Although arrangements to wear the royal blue uniforms were made last summer, the players did not know about the uniform tribute until the day of the Utah game.
Prior to that contest, BYU hadn't worn royal blue since the final game of the 1998 season, in the Liberty Bowl.
Don't plan on seeing the Cougars wear royal blue in the future, however.
"It is important to note that the team will not be wearing the royal blue uniforms beyond this year's bowl game," said athletic director Tom Holmoe. "We would only consider wearing them again for a very special and unique occasion — every once in a royal blue moon. With this being the final game of the 25-year anniversary season, we think this is a fitting final tribute."
BACK AT PRACTICE: Friday's session marked the first time Mendenhall had been at practice in a couple of days. He's been on the road recruiting and attending a bowl press conference in Las Vegas.
"It's good to be back," said Mendenhall, who explained that he was visiting recruits who have already committed to the program as well as some junior college prospects.
"There really hasn't been anything that's changed (with commitments)," Mendenhall said. "The same guys are committed that were at the beginning of the year. We have a number (of players) that are considering coming mid-year. I thought it was important to do a home visit with those guys."
LANDING A PLANE: Apparently, there's a shortage of charter planes as a number of college teams around the country are struggling to schedule that mode of transportation to their various bowl games.
The Cougars were in that category until Friday.
"We've been looking (for a charter plane) since the Utah game finished and we finally landed one today," Mendenhall said. "I don't know how many seats are on the plane, I don't know if it's a propeller, I don't know if it's one of those with the skis on the bottom."
Maaco Bowl Las Vegas
No. 15 BYU (10-2) vs. No. 16 Oregon State (8-4)
Dec. 22, 6 p.m.
Sam Boyd Stadium
TV: ESPN Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
e-mail: [email protected]