1994 Freedom Bowl
December 27, 1994: I was 18 years old and Pop took me on a post-Christmas man-trip to Anaheim (“The Big A”) to watch our beloved Utes play in the Freedom Bowl against the vaunted “Desert Swarm” of Arizona. It’s fourth and goal with time winding down as Mike McCoy extends the play by rolling right. McCoy is dragged down by Chuck Osborne as he releases a desperation wounded duck throw into the end zone. Somehow, Kevin Dyson rises up and makes a one-handed catch. Utes win. Pandemonium.
Pop wants to rush the field with the team, but the drop from the stands is significant and there are police everywhere on the field. I’m reluctant. My 54-year old father looks at me, shrugs and bails off the stadium seats crashing down in a heap on the field below. I thought he was dead. To my utter surprise, he pops up to a crouch. I see one of Anaheim’s finest take an angel to tackle and arrest him. But just as the cop dips his shoulders, my old man makes a head’n shoulder fake, which would get recounted to my friends and family for the next 25 years, the po-po grabs air and the GOAT disappears into the growing mob of players. That was the last football game ever played at the “Big A.” I eventually took courage and met him in the mosh, but I will never forget the day my dad juked a cop on the field at the “Big A” after one of the biggest wins in school history.
Pop would’ve been 79 today. I miss him like crazy. Our shared experiences with the U are some of my fondest memories. I’m glad I get to continue the tradition with my own children and, hopefully, help them create their own memories with their dad.