For college football aficionados, especially those who are BYU fans, The Miracle Bowl represents one of the finest comebacks ever in the history of the college football—engineered by the great Jim McMahon. The Cougars had never won a bowl game coming into the 1980 Holiday Bowl, and the “experts” seemed sure they wouldn’t get this one either.
They were matched up against the Mustangs of SMU who boasted two of the best running backs in the game. Nicknamed the “Pony Express,” Eric Dickerson and Craig James were picked to run roughshod over Brigham Young.
With four minutes left in the game, everything was turning out just as it was supposed to. BYU’s defense couldn’t handle SMU’s offense, and the Mustangs scored to take a commanding 45-25 lead over the Cougars.
But, like all miracles, the undoable found a way to get done. Over the next four minutes, BYU found a way back. Then, in the final minute of the game, now just down by six, The Cougs blocked a punt, and with 13 seconds left, ended up with the ball on the 41-yard line. After two incompletions, McMahon threw a “Hail Mary” pass as time expired. Due to an amazing catch, the ball found its way into Clay Brown’s hands for the touchdown. With no time left, the miracle was completed as the extra point was good. BYU took their first bowl win with a 46-45 victory. (To see a piece done on The Miracle Bowl, click here—or watch it at the end of this post)
This year, I had my own Miracle Bowl. It was twice as amazing, and took my breath away in a way the 1980 Holiday Bowl never could.
It was the first weekend in November and BYU was playing at home against UNLV. The night before, I had decided that I wasn’t going to use my season tickets, and just watch the game on TV. It was supposed to be pretty cold, and UNLV was on a down year to say the least.
But, when I woke up the next morning, the weatherman was all wrong (big shock…right?!) It was a beautiful day, with temperatures you expected to see in mid September—not the first of November. Feeling like I couldn’t pass on such a beautiful day, I got on the phone and started making the rounds to see if I could find a second (Ko’s my usual game day gal, but things have been a little off this year…OK maybe more than just a little).
I called my brother, my brother in law, my buddy—all the usual suspects, and because of the late notice no one could join me. Finally, sitting at the counter, I looked over at Cole and asked him. He didn’t say no—frankly, he didn’t really say anything, I took that as a yes, and we were off.
We made the hour and a half trip brilliantly. I was in the front of the van doing my pregame prep by listening to the pre-game on 1160 AM, while Cole was in the back getting all he needed from Donald Duck (said like it’s all one word, “Donalduck”). We prepare for games very differently, but different strokes and all that
We got to the stadium where Cousin Jessie, who’s going to the Y, met us, and unloaded The Cole Man from his car seat.
Before I knew it, there we were, Cole and I taking in our first Cougar game together. We sat there, got some pics together, and with Cosmo the mascot, Cole saw his first touchdown (which we happened to get on video—you can see that below too) and even somehow enjoyed a hot dog together. Which, I know may not seem like much, but when you have no use of your hands, partial use of your arms, and have your left hand side unable to help since it’s being used holding Cole, buying, unwrapping, and sharing a hot dog with a 22 month old takes real skill!
Then, in the middle of all the cheering and fun (BYU won big), it hit me.
I’ve had those same seats for a long time; since ’89 when I was a freshman; since before I knew Kolette. I’ve been watching BYU play football from those same seats for 21 seasons now, and during those seasons I’ve seen a lot—a lot of football, a lot of fun, and a lot of fathers taking their sons to football games. Through nearly all those seasons, I wondered if I would ever get to be one of those fathers.
Then, on the 6th of November, there I was—watching a game with my boy. I was now the father. I now got to make sure my boy could see the ball, meet the mascot and get a hot dog.
Tears welled up in my eyes, and streamed down my face, as I saw my Miracle Bowl. For, I was reminded again, as I so often am, that Cole is just that—a miracle—the real thing. Just like the BYU vs. SMU game, Cole proves that the undoable is doable, and that the “experts” don’t always know as much as they think they do. It made me grateful to my Father in Heaven for this supreme blessing; for this incredible kindness.
It may not be the best game I’ve ever seen, but it was the most beautiful.
I love you son,
THE MIRACLE BOWL