Anxious times. It had been 30 years since someone other than LaVell Edwards roamed the sidelines as BYU's head coach. The Cougars sent the legend off with a rather disappointing 6-6, non-bowl season. BYU won its last two games of 2000 after Brandon Doman was inserted as starter, and 2001 wasn't just a new chapter in BYU history, it was the start of a whole new book. Gary Crowton came to town with promises of a big offense. On a hot August afternoon, BYU welcomed Tulane to Provo.
Let's take it to ESPN's Mark Jones, shall we? (And again, I recommend opening two windows - one for the video, one for the commentary - for simultaneous viewing.)
August 25, 2001, season opener, Black Coaches Association Classic. (A little bizarre to think that the world would forever change in 2 weeks.)
Man, what an intro. It's crazy to look back on this. I attended this game with Zach, so I have never seen this intro or got the "TV take" on the end of the LaVell / beginning of the Crowton era.
"A paragon of perfection and prolific offense," Jones says of LaVell Edwards. 257 wins. "A monument to everything that was good about college football."
On the call is Mark Jones and ... OMG THAT'S TODD CHRISTENSEN'S MUSIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
For Tulane, looks like they expect big things from Patrick Ramsey - a solid college quarterback....and based on this year's BYU defense, Ramsey should have a decent game.
Also full disclosure - Zach and I weren't able to reach the stadium until the end of the first quarter. So I've NEVER seen this next part. The stadium corners were empty, in large part due to fall semester being a week away from starting. Also, it might be a little hard to get excited about a team returning from a 6-6 year after your legendary coach retires and it's set to be in the 90's.
Kickoff - There's Mewelde Moore. Tulane wasn't great, but Ramsey and Moore were a good tandem. Moore is a great athlete, we actually saw him play rookie-league baseball for the Idaho Falls Padres the following summer.
14:20 - Man, did you see Brett Keisel? Weird with no beard. Solid NFL career.
14:19 - Paul Walkenhorst in the midst of one of his 9 seasons at BYU.
Tulane's uniforms are a tad plain, but a nice classic look. I can't believe I at one point I liked (or even didn't hate) BYU's threads. Yuck.
13:56 - Uh oh! Mewelde Moore! That was some prolific tackling on the edge. Fans already crapping on LaVell Edwards Stadium benches about the Crowton Era.
TULANE 7 BYU 0
Oh, now they talk about Idaho Falls for Moore, makes it look like I cheated. Watched him play in Ogden, I promise - because it's Rookie League, not single-A, Todd. (Geez, get your minor league baseball straight.)
13:41 - Oh man, first look at Crowton's offense is a shotgun keeper for Doman for over 20 yards. That's excellent.
Christensen mentions Reno Mahe and Dixie State. I often forget we once knew him as Junior Mahe the running back. To me, he's Reno who plays 4 days after having his appendix removed. He's also Reno who steals gasoline.
11:56 - Graphic shows the 2000 Cougars converted on 35% of 3rd downs. WOW. That puts the Max Hall era of 3rd down conversions (50+%) into perspective.
Coming back from break, Christensen shows why Tulane called timeout. "You would have expected to see a goalline offense on 3rd and inches." This is Gary Crowton, son! Get acquainted!
BYU comes back in the same formation and runs Doman on a power QB sweep with Staley leading. All of your dads and grandfathers probably thought about cursing. "What the hell is this? Damn this Crowton character."
11:42 - A toss left and Staley walks in. So far, BYU's offensive line looks fantastic - a big reason BYU's offense will do so well this year.
TULANE 7 BYU 7
It's almost strange to look back and see BYU running a 4-3 defense. Mendenhall would come soon with Rocky Long's 3-3-5, eventually moving to the 3-4.
There's LaVell! "No second thoughts. Great run, but time for somebody else to take over." Todd asks "Could you ever mistake LaVell Edwards for anybody else?" LaVell is closely related to my wife's grandfather. She tells me her grandfather had that scowl just like LaVell, it definitely ran in the family.
9:33 - Man, BYU's defense is ... interesting.
Wisconsin ran a spread back then? For the love of Bret Bielema!
8:54 - Roydell Williams is majoring in Humanities. That's not a subject, bro. That's a broad genre of study.
8:27 - After a great play by Jernaro Gilford, Tulane scores again. Cougars better hope for some turnovers, because this defense is butter.
TULANE 14 BYU 7
Todd Christensen mocks Tulane's kick formation as high-schoolish. Haha. Oh yeah Todd? Your haircut is stuck in high school ... and it will still be 10 years later when you grace the standard definition airwaves of The Mtn.
7:33 - Nice zone route from Staley. A lot of times Crowton would forget who his best offensive player was, but when BYU put effort into getting the ball to Staley in space, man was it great. Apparently Staley predicted a 42-21 win in some online chat. Yeah ... way off. Haha. It is interesting to hear them talk about Staley in game one of this season, with no idea what kind of season he will have. (It involves THE running back award.)
5:51 - More QB running! At BYU! APOCALYPSE! Also, a sign says "BYU [hearts] ESPN." You have no idea, buddy.
5:13 - Not even 10 minutes into the game, Doman has 42 passing yards and 65 rushing.
4:41 - Oh there it is. Staley in the open field. A beautiful stride.
TULANE 14 BYU 14
4:28 - Obligatory "That's why you play defense!"
3:50 - Oh that's cute. The crowd getting loud in hopes the defense will make a 3rd down stop.
3:42 - Justin Ena gets his name called for the first time. He'll be known later this season for the linebacker who gets absolutely trucked by Bradlee Van Pelt at the goalline. (Yes, BVP, the Colorado State quarterback.)
The first possession that doesn't lead to a score, and Rigell is lucky he didn't just give Tulane a 15-yard field. I sure hope fumbles don't become a problem under Crowton's tenure.
2:54 - If people were texting in 2001, Luke Staley would say LOL to your tackling angles, Tulane. Not keeping running stats, but both Doman and Staley are approaching 100 rushing yards in the first quarter.
BYU 21 TULANE 14
0:57 - "Hey, we're just going to practice this little vertical route, okay BYU?" Tulane scores on the next play. I think the coaches agreed to go for the record for most scoring drives under 2 minutes.
TULANE 21 BYU 21
0:38 - Wooop! Mahe on the reverse, and BYU finishes the first quarter 10 yards away from scoring 28. (Don't worry, I think they'll get to it.)
BYU rushed for 172 yards in the quarter (so says Christensen in a little bit).
14:56 -Nobody was even covering Spencer Nead. TuLOLane. This offense looks great with a smart QB, solid O line, and some athletes. National Championship, here we come!
BYU 28 TULANE 21
14:10 - Todd says Tulane should fake punt. I'm thinking he's right.
Out of the break, Jones calls Christensen "Todd Blackledge." Poor, poor Todd.
12:52 - A lot of Staley, Doman, and Mahe so far. As the game goes on, I think we'll hear a variety of names for the Cougars. It's a long game in the hot sun. Wilkerson is a "converted defensive back." Good ol 50/50. I'll always miss playing the scratch-off lotto ticket that was watching the ball being thrown to you.
12:04 - Another fumble, this time Tulane recovers. Empty yards for BYU. Hope it doesn't come back to hurt them.
10:56 - Oh good, Walkenhorst saves the freaking day. I was worried. Then we have what is ALMOST a zone-read shotgun option. More of a straight-up fake, but shades of the zone-read there.
10:09 - That looked like a broken play, but Doman backpedals to buy time for the tight end Gabe Reid to slip open on the weak side. I might get carpal tunnel when this is over.
BYU 35 TULANE 21
9:20 - Tulane's Terrell Harris has 117 receiving yards. LOL. I love seeing defenses just dominate people, but a part of me wishes every football game was like this.
8:20 - "Hocke? Man, he's playing the wrong sport!" -What Todd Christensen was thinking about saying.
7:30 - A good defensive play? Ryan Denney, General Studies major, gets a sack. Tulane punting. You don't fake it here, it's over ....... Oh man, it's over.
5:52 - Spencer Nead gets a Marcus-Matthews-like bounce. Luke Staley's score prediction is reached with only 35 minutes left to play.
BYU 42 TULANE 21
5:34 - "Man, that returner has some sneaky speed and is in the Wes Welker mold." -What the 2011 announcer would say about that returner.
1:35 - Tulane gets a roughing the passer penalty in its favor...I swear BYU ended this half with 49 points and while at the game I thought my brain was going to explode. Maybe I don't remember it correctly? No way that can happen in this time, right?
1:26 - Well, Moore makes BYU's defenders fall all over themselves. Mark Jones says it puts Tulane back in it. Tulane took 4:26 in that drive, apparently they forgot the directive today.
BYU 42 TULANE 28
"Ay yo, check out Thurl Bailey's Christmas! Drops this November!"
1:15 - Crowton calls shortside option. DRINK! That will work better later this season, I promise, but not because of Crowton.
0:41 - Brian McDonald-Ashford keeps those legs moving. "OMG he just Tebowed! LOL! Look! Oh, that's so funny, weird religious people." Wait, nobody cared about people who prayed until an outspoken white kid did it. That's the truth. People have been "Tebowing" in football for decades.
BYU 49 TULANE 28
0:36 - Whoa, what? Matt Payne was involved with some strange kick moments. Laying people out, etc. Here his squib kick richocets and he recovers it. Go for the kill, Gary!
BYU 49 TULANE 28
BYU has 487 yards (!) of offense, including 312 on the ground. Staley had 127 rushing yards and 3 TDs on 8 carries. Defense gave up 346 yards, but who needs defense?
I remember distinctly, fans chanting "Gary! Gary! Gary!" as the team went to the locker room. What a way to start your tenure, huh? If only it would stay like that.
14:07 - Another shortside option, this time they connect and Staley goes for a while - but a hold negates it. We'll keep working on the shortside option for you, Gary.
13:27 - Todd Christensen gets super pumped about his son Toby getting a long catch and run. Cool moment. Announcers aren't supposed to do that, but, ESPN isn't journalism, and it's not Todd's fault they put him on the game.
Next play, Doman with a nice run. I tend to forget what a skilled, smart runner he was. Wasn't fast, just tough and smart. Another drive under 2 minutes.
BYU 56 TULANE 28
Tulane does nothing, BYU keeps Doman in the game despite being up 4 touchdowns. Seems strange, but this is only his 3rd career start, after all. Plus, winning by 35 is better than winning by 28, right Coach Crowton?
Payne hooks a field goal. Hope it doesn't come back to haunt the Cougars.
8:46 - Mewelde Moore makes a nice little move, Mark Jones reacts like he went Barry Sanders on somebody. I don't envy the life of announcers when they are calling a 56-28 game that still has 24 minutes left to play.
In that vein, AREN'T BYU'S HELMETS JUST AWESOME?
8:01 - Haha. Another 4th down. Fans get somewhat loud, don't want Tulane to make this close or anything! Moore dashes in like another practice drill. That's great.
BYU 56 TULANE 35
Jamal Willis!!! For some reason, I didn't know he coached at Payson High School. Currently works at BYU as an academic advisor. Oh, those highlights of Willis are awesome.
7:46 - Oh Gary. You're emptying out the playbook while up 21? No wonder you fizzled so quickly. A double-play-action (fake reverse) and throw to a streaking Staley. Nice touch on that throw from Doman, though.
I love how Reno Mahe didn't wear gloves. Taped up his fingers most games. I don't know if there is a receiver anywhere in the nation who does that now.
5:43 - Another touchdown, another McDonald-Ashford Tebowing. Oh the humanity! Todd Christensen drops "cognoscenti" on us. Always with the vocabulary, that Todd.
BYU 63 TULANE 35
3:15 - Bret Engemann reference. DRINK.
2:03 - With 63 points on the board, Crowton calls an out-and-up. You can do that in this scenario, Gary, but only with backups in. C'mon now.
0:30 - Crowd wants BYU to go for it ... LOL. Aaron Edmonds gets on the field for the first time, and no big thang, I'll coffin-corner it at the six-yard line. Been sitting on my arse for 4 hours, whatevs.
Alright, I can't watch any more. It got out of hand, but I do remember getting pretty stoked when BYU hit 70. Not something you get to see most times you buy tickets to a football game. An okay payback game for when Shaun King and Michael Jordan housed BYU in the Liberty Bowl.
FINAL - BYU 70 TULANE 35
Total Yards: BYU 734 (!), Tulane 508
BYU falls 43 yards short of its all-time record of 777 total yards.
Doman 25-31 - 286 yards - 3 TD 0 INT. Incredibly efficient/accurate on the afternoon.
Staley - 10 carries, 142 yards - 3 TD
Doman - 11 carries, 115 yards - 1 TD
McDonald-Ashford - 18 carries, 103 yards - 3 TD
Yes, BYU had three 100-yard rushers in one game. It really happened.
Mewelde Moore posts 176 rushing yards. Reno Mahe caught 12 balls for 96 yards.