A homemade national championship banner has been draped across Smith Fieldhouse since early January. Coach LaVell Edwards spent the spring and summer making a lot more speeches and playing in a lot more golf tournaments than usual. Those are about the only external signs of the Cougars' 13-0 national championship season.
Surprisingly, BYU had a normal recruiting year, too, which is to say the blue-chippers stayed away in droves. "The big difference," says wide receiver Glen Kozlowski, "is that this year we lost the players with 4.3 speed rather than just the players with 4.5 speed." With 4:48 speed and a pair of hands as good as any in the country, Koz is hardly the one to be poor-mouthing. The Cougars may still be a bunch of white guys from a lost time zone, but they have many of the same ingredients that brought them a perfect record last season.
The main difference this year is that they finally have a major league schedule to match their major league program. The Cougars open against three Top 20 teams—BC, UCLA and Washington. "From Bo Diddley Tech to the big boys," says Kozlowski. "When you catch as much flak about a schedule as we did, it's almost a relief, no matter what happens."
Edwards loses four-fifths of his offensive line, but with returning tackle Dave Wright, a couple of giant-sized Rawlinsons (brothers Doug, a tackle who weighs about 300 pounds, and Randy, a guard who goes about 275), and center Keith McCullough (260), he's not really worried. Quarterback Robbie Bosco, who was third in last year's Heisman voting, isn't concerned about his receivers, either. Besides Kozlowski, there's Trevor Molini, a former scholastic sprint champion who appears to be a worthy successor to the Gordon Hudson-Dave Mills line of tight ends, and wideout Mark Bellini, a typical BYU receiver—medium fast, intelligent and the hands to catch spit in the wind. Although Koz's speed makes him atypical, he tries to "play the role of a BYU slow guy. You know, I come out hard, puffing and pumping my arms like I'm going all out, and the defensive back is sort of reading the paper while he keeps up with me. Then the next time I can go by him."
Defensively, the Cougars have a giant hole to fill at safety following the departure of Kyle Morrell. But BYU has three top linebackers in Cary Whittingham, Leon White and Kurt Gouveia, a big line, two superb defensive backs in Jeff Sprowls and Marc Sherman and, in all probability, the same fighting spirit that helped the Cougars hold Michigan to minus-three yards in the fourth quarter of the Holiday Bowl. Such toughness in the clutch has become a BYU trademark over the last few years. Bring on the big boys.