BYU's football program from 1979-1985 was recently ranked as the 25th best college football dynasty of all-time by Athlonsports.com. My dad, the great Mark Kirchhoefer, was a cadet at the Air Force Academy from 1984-1988 and was able to witness firsthand BYU's dominance during that stretch. Interesting to note is the fact that the 80s was also the peak of Air Force's football power under Fisher DeBerry, which means these games were not laughers, but highly contested WAC rivalry games that meant the difference between a good season and a legendary one. He told me once that when the Falcons forced the Cougars into 4th and 10, Coach Edwards would routinely keep the offense on the field because of the confidence he had in their passing offense.
I look back on this time and notice similarities between Oregon and Chip Kelly today. Chip Kelly did to clock management and the running game what LaVell Edwards did to the passing game. BYU was the cutting edge, an amazing television product, and a hotbed for recruiting exactly like Oregon is now.
This era of innovation helped BYU earn a strong reputation nationally, and it is a reputation that has carried to today. When many analysts and pundits think of BYU football they think of ‘Quarterback U' and an attitude of rolling the dice. There is much confusion as to what the future holds for BYU football. Fans wonder if we will be kept out of the Power 5 conferences, and consequently be held outside of major bowl consideration and possibly the NCAA Football tournament. It is important to remember that if it was not for the 79'-85' dominance, BYU probably would not be in a position to even be considered to join a major conference or earn a bid to a BCS bowl game. That seven year stretch is the difference between a respectable independent college football program and just another WAC team.
So to do a recap of this seven year stretch of dominance: the Cougars finished the season 16th or higher in the final AP poll every season except 1982, won 77 games and only lost 12, Jim McMahon and Steve Young won the Davey O' Brien Award, Lavell Edwards won a National Coach of the Year Award, and of course were crowned National Champions in 1984.
It has been said before on this site, but winning cures everything. BYU will not be allowed into the club of elites until their level of play warrants it, and the best way to warrant it is to emulate the first great BYU teams that Coach Edwards fielded in the early 80s.