National and Big Eight recap – 1984

In 1984, Brigham Young University became the fourth Division 1-A football team in succession to win its first-ever national championship, capturing the 1984 crown with a 13-0 season. Despite its unblemished record, BYU had its share of critics. The naysayers arguments were only enhanced when BYU just got by an average (6-5) Michigan squad in the Holiday Bowl. Bound by contract to the Holiday Bowl, the Cougars had no option as to bowl or opponent. To its credit, though, BYU did go through 1984 as the only undefeated college team. Led by quarterback Robbie Bosco and Coach of the Year LaVell Edwards, BYU utilized a potent air attack to bring national attention to the Western Athletic Conference. The Heisman trophy in 1984 was won by Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie, whose “Hail Mary” pass to Gerard Phelan to beat Miami 47-45 was witnessed by millions Thanksgiving weekend.

In the Big Eight, it was the return of the southern partner of the “Big Two”. For five consecutive seasons, 1979-83, either Oklahoma or Nebraska completed conference play undefeated. For the previous three seasons, though, it had been Nebraska which had accomplished the feat. In 1984, the Sooners and Cornhuskers shared the Big Eight crown with identical 6-1 records. Oklahoma beat Nebraska 17-7, but lost to Kansas for the first time since 1975, 28-11. Oklahoma finished the season 9-2-1 overall, tying Texas and losing to Washington, 28-17, in the Orange Bowl. Despite the bowl loss and three blemishes on their record, the Sooners still finished sixth in the polls. Nebraska faired somewhat better, finishing 4th in the final poll, capping a 10-2 campaign with a 28-10 win over LSU in the Sugar Bowl.

Oklahoma State also finished 10-2, losing only to the Big Two. With Oklahoma State’s final ranking of #7 in the nation, the Big Eight could boast three top ten teams.

For there to be so much success at the top of the Big Eight, someone below had to pay.

Enter the 1984 University of Colorado Buffaloes.

One L

Author Scott Turow has written several famous works, including “Presumed Innocent” and “Burden of Proof”. His first work, though, is my favorite.

“One L”, as Turow’s book is titled, refers to the name given to first year law school students at Harvard Law School. Turow’s book chronicles his trials and tribulations as he suffers through his first year. I read “One L” many years before I made it to the University of Colorado Law School, and the story it told scared the hell out of me. “One L”, combined with the movie “The Paper Chase”, made for many restless nights as the fall of 1984 approached.

Virtually my entire life, or at least since fifth grade, I had been preparing myself for law school. My majors in undergrad, political science and history, prepared me for little other than to teach or to go to law school. I had even gone so far in my preparations for attending law school as to take two years of Latin in high school, and two more years of Latin in college.

For those readers who do not understand the rigors of law school, or the fear which the Socratic method of teaching (from Webster’s, and I quote: “philosophical method of systematic doubt and questioning of another to reveal his hidden ignorance”) generates, or feel that law school is no more difficult than any other graduate school, please read “One L”, and see the “Paper Chase” featuring John Houseman. You may then begin to understand the fog under which I existed during the fall of 1984. Perhaps in sympathy, the University of Colorado football team seemed to wander through the a similar fog that very same fall.

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