By Todd Michaelis, ’90
THE score: Brigham Young University 46, Southern Methodist University 45.
The dramatic conclusion to the “Miracle Bowl,” which once commanded sports headlines, has faded to a memory. But for 39 players from that year’s team, the sweetness of that victory 20 years ago was rejuvenated at a Homecoming 2000 reunion.
“Reunions are designed to bring back the spirit that was felt while attending BYU,” says DyAnn Houston, administrator of alumni activities. More than 1,250 people came to BYU in October 2000 to reminisce with fellow alumni.
Memories came flooding back to Ray M. Linford, an offensive tackle for BYU in the 1980 Holiday Bowl, when he saw a replay of the game’s final play. “There I was watching myself on the big screen blocking and blocking this guy who was determined to get to Jim [McMahon]. With the help of his teammates, Jim got the pass off that won the game,” Linford says. Verlyn Linford, Ray’s wife, remembers the intense emotions that night. “All I could do was cry when we won. The feelings are just as strong now.”
As members of the 1980 Miracle Bowl football team reunion committee, Ray and Verlyn spent months planning the event but said they had not expected many alumni to come.
“I was amazed at who walked through the door,” Ray says. “Players, coaches, trainers, and even the equipment manager came. They, too, wanted to relive the miracle that took place Dec. 19, 1980.”
The Miracle Bowl team, however, was just one of the groups that reunited during Homecoming 2000. And for many the memories stretch further back than 20 years. David A. Schulthess, ’50, reflects on his graduation year: “It was a good time, there was simplicity. There were only five buildings on upper campus. The mode of transportation was walking. If a fella had a car, he had many friends.” Schulthess sees reunions as an opportunity to talk with classmates and to learn about where people are and what they are doing. He notes that a sobering aspect of reunions is becoming aware of those who are no longer living. “This draws those who are still alive even closer,” he adds.
Whether by witnessing the “miracle” catch of the 1980 Holiday Bowl, renewing old acquaintances, or just strolling through campus, reunions 2000 gave alumni a chance to reexperience their days at BYU.