The third and final major announcement at BYU Football Media Day was that the football program is finally retiring the number six. The number is being retired in honor of three Brigham Young Cougars: Marc Wilson, Robbie Bosco, and Luke Staley.
Wilson and Bosco are quarterbacks from the Quarterback Factory Era, and Staley is a running back who found a way to etch a name for himself despite BYU's rich quarterback tradition. All three are deserving. The retirement ceremony will take place on September 16, 2017, during the BYU home game with the Wisconsin Badgers.
Marc Wilson, QB, 1975-79
535 completions, 937 attempts, 7,637 yards passing, 61 touchdowns, 46 interceptions (7 rush TD)
Wilson came to BYU from Shorecrest High School in Seattle, Washington. He became the starting quarterback in game five of the 1977 season after Gifford Nielsen suffered a season ending knee injury. The loss of Nielsen was devastating. Some people felt the season would be ruined. Wilson was an unproven sophomore, and the next game was against undefeated conference foe Colorado State.
It didn't take long for Wilson to ease those fears.
In his first career start, Wilson played, arguably, his finest game. He led BYU to a 63-17 win, and set a new school record with seven touchdown passes. He completed 15 of 25 attempts for 332 yards. Later that season, Wilson broke the NCAA record for most passing yards in a single game when he threw for 571 in a route of Utah.
After an inconsistent 1978 season when Wilson had to fight off injuries and adjust to a new offensive coordinator, Wilson returned to form for his senior season. While still recovering from a burst appendix, Wilson helped launch the greatest season in BYU history with an upset of 14th ranked Texas A&M in the first game of the season. From there the Cougars rolled to a perfect 11-0 regular season record and landed in the top 10 of the national polls for the first time in school history. He passed for over 300 yards in nine straight games. The final game of the regular season against San Diego State was nationally televised on ABC. He set a new NCAA record for passing yards in a season on his first pass of the game; it was also a touchdown. His second and third passes were touchdowns as well. BYU ended up winning 63-14.
The only blemish in 1979 was a one-point loss to the Indiana Hoosiers in the Holiday Bowl. Wilson had BYU in position to win on a last minute field goal, but the kick missed.
Wilson's list of accolades is long. In 1979, Wilson was consensus All-American; he finished third in the Heisman Trophy ballot; he won the Sammy Baugh trophy. The Oakland Raiders selected Wilson in the first round of the 1980 NFL Draft with the 15th overall pick.
Robbie Bosco, QB, 1981-85
638 comp., 997 att., 8,400 yards, 66 TD, 33 Int. (4 rush TD)
Bosco came to BYU out of Roseville High School in Roseville, California. After watching two of the best BYU quarterbacks ever, Jim McMahon and Steve Young, for three years, Bosco assumed the reigns in 1984.
His first career start came on the road against the Pitt Panthers. They were ranked number three in the nation. Pitt had won the 1976 National Championship, and boasted a 50-9-1 record from 1979-83. Bosco got off to a rough start, but before the day was done, he had began a legacy of his own. With 1:37 to play, he threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Adam Haysbert to upset the Panthers.
The win against Pitt extended BYU's winning streak to 12 games. It would reach 24 by the end of the year as BYU completed the first and only undefeated season in school history, 13-0. That resulted in BYU being crowned college football's National Champion in 1984. Bosco displayed great toughness, dedication, and sacrifice throughout the season as he played through multiple injuries.
Bosco passed for 508 yards in a win over Boston College in the 1985 Kickoff Classic. With the win, BYU's school record win streak reached 25 games. Later in the season, he set a new school record for most passing yards in a single game with 585. His 69-yard touchdown pass to Vai Sikahema was the game winner against undefeated and number four ranked Air Force.
After injuries cut his NFL career short, Bosco returned to BYU to coach quarterbacks from 1990-2003.
Luke Staley, RB, 1999-2001
418 carries, 2,493 yards, 41 TD
86 receptions, 1,000 yards, 7 TD
In the same year that the first installment of the second Star Wars trilogy was released, a running back came to BYU from a town with a name that sounded like it came from a Star Wars movie. Staley was a product of Tualatin High School in Tualatin, Oregon.
When the 1999 season rolled around, BYU needed to replace its two leading rushers from the year before. Staley seized that opportunity. He scored two touchdowns in his very first collegiate game, and three in the next. In fact, he scored at least one touchdown in every game he played that season. Unfortunately, the injury bug bit, and he missed the last two regular season games. However, he had done enough to be named the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year.
Staley was hampered by injuries his sophomore season, but he did have 167 yards rushing on 28 carries vs. UNLV.
Under new head coach Gary Crowton in 2001, Staley really blossomed. In the first two games of the season, not only did Staley rush for over 100 yards in each game, but his yards per carry was over 11 yards. In the fifth game of the season, Staley rushed for a career high 207 yards, and scored five touchdowns (four rushing, one receiving), including three in a row in the third quarter, to help BYU overcome a 13-point deficit to Utah State to win, 54-34. From that point on, Staley was unstoppable. He rushed for 134 yards or more in every game he played the rest of the season. In his final three games against Wyoming, Utah, and Mississippi State, Staley delivered clutch fourth quarter plays to win each game.
Sadly, Staley's season ended two games early. He suffered a season ending injury on his final carry at Mississippi State. At the time, BYU had a 12-0 record and had won 14 games in a row (the Cougars would finish the season 12-2). However, he had already set nine school rushing and scoring records.
His remarkable season was duly recognized when he was awarded the Doak Walker Award recognizing the nation's top running back. It is highly unlikely that another BYU running back will have a season like Staley had in 2001 with 1,582 rushing yards, 8.1 yards per carry average, and 24 rushing touchdowns.
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