WELCOME TO COUGARTOWN
By Jeff Call, ’94
In the tradition of Cooperstown and Canton, BYUs new Legacy Hall celebrates the blue and whites trail to fame and glory.
SO, where were you when Clay L. Brown, 81, with Southern Methodist defenders draped all over him, latched onto the 41-yard, Hail Mary touchdown pass as time expired in the 1980 Holiday Bowl? That play, and the ensuing extra point, capped an astonishing 21-point rally in the games final four minutes, securing the Cougars first-ever bowl victory. To BYU fans, the game is known simply as The Miracle Bowl and Browns heroic feat is The Catch. And if youre a true-blue fan, you remember that event better than you remember what you ate for breakfast this morning.
Where were you that next March, during the NCAA basketball tournament, when Danny R. Ainge, 92, received an in-bounds pass with less than 10 seconds remaining, dribbled coast-to-coast through the entire Notre Dame team, and lofted the ball softly into the net, propelling the Cougars to the Elite Eight?
Inexplicably, two of the greatest and most memorable moments in BYU sports history transpired just a few months apart.
Now, more than two decades later, you can relive them.
Ever wonder what happened to the football Brown caught and the basketball Ainge dribbled in those historic games? Youll find them, and much more, inside Legacy Hall, a new 7,400-square-foot, chillbump-inducing BYU sports treasury, a one-stop location for devout Cougar fans to bask in the athletic programs rich tradition. And if that werent enough, admission is free.
If youre a BYU sports junkie, says associate athletic director of external relations D. Duff Tittle, 90, with a broad smile, its great.
Within the three-level atrium in the new Student Athlete Building, hundreds of pieces of memorabilia are on display, including trophies, game balls, jerseys, shoes, and tributes to great athletes, teams, and coaches.
Among other triumphs, the hall honors the greatest continuing victory story BYU fans have cheered for, the dynastic dominance of the womens cross country team. In November 1997 the Cougar harriers rose to the top of their world, where they have stayed for seven years, winning four national championships and logging three second-place finishes.
It also showcases perhaps the most famous piece of sports hardware at BYU: the 1990 Heisman Trophy, won by quarterback Ty H. Detmer, 92.
For the first time, our fans wont have to ask, Where are you guys hiding the Heisman? Tittle says. You walk in the building, and its right there.
The hallowed walls of Legacy Hall, which opens this summer with 34 display cases and 21 wall displays, are certain to unleash a tidal wave of memories for Cougar fans. Simply put, this is BYUs version of Cooperstown.
The assignment of collecting the memorabilia to fill the vast space was charged to Tittle, who grew up a rabid BYU fan in Orem, Utah. For several months Tittle played the role of museum curator, hunting for rare, tough-to-find Cougar relics from every sport BYU plays. Although the task has required plenty of hard work and networking, there have been some serendipitous moments. Like the time Tittle got a phone call from a BYU fan who received an original Ainge home basketball uniform as a birthday gift years ago. Someone else sent Tittle a piece of the goal post that was torn down following BYUs first-ever football victory over archrival Utahin 1942.
More than 100 former athletes, from various eras and representing 21 sports, have generously donated items to Legacy Hall. J. Eldon Fortie, 63, BYUs first All-America selection in football, contributed the helmet he wore in 1961. Former BYU golf star Mike R. Weir, 93, sent the bag that held his clubs when he won the Masters in 2003. Quarterback Steve Young, 84, loaned his 1995 NFL MVP trophy and a game ball from his MVP performance in the 1995 Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers. Weve had some big-time people step up to the plate, Tittle says.
Other pieces of history include the Team USA 2000 Summer Olympic jersey of mens volleyball All-American Ryan M. Millar, 03; Major League Baseball jerseys worn by Wally K. Joyner, 84, Cory Snyder, 87, and 1991 World Series MVP Jack Morris, 77; jerseys belonging to former womens basketball star and current WNBA player Erin Thorn, 03; the BYU golf bag owned by Carrie Summerhays Roberts, 02, who became the first Utahn to qualify for the LPGA Tour; and a tennis racket that was used by Tracy Tanner-MacDonald, 87, BYUs first tennis All-America selection.
Still, Tittles goal goes beyond gee-whiz souvenirs.
I dont want you to just come in and look at the Heisman Trophy and say, Wow, thats cool, he says. I want you to be able to see Ty Detmers jersey and his helmet. Then I want you to learn what Tys all about. He came here as an 18-year-old kid out of Texas and left as a man who embraced the gospel, met his wife, and it just so happened he won the Heisman Trophy along the way.
To help instill that message, Legacy Hall features 13 interactive kiosks with video touch screens to allow visitors to watch or listen to highlights of some of the greatest moments in BYU sports history. Included are in-depth player biographies as well as video presentations documenting each of BYUs 12 national championship teamsmens basketball (1951 and 1966), mens track (1970), mens golf (1981), football (1984), womens cross country (1997, 1999, 2001, and 2002), and mens volleyball (1999, 2001, and 2004).
Tittle hopes Legacy Hall will both entertain and educate any campus visitor. Maybe theyre a sports fan, maybe theyre not, he says. Maybe theyre an alumnus, maybe theyre not. But everyone that visits Legacy Hall will learn what BYU is all about. Its more than just championships and trophies.
Jeff Call is a sports writer for the Deseret Morning News.
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