PROVO, UTAH — And now for an encore from Brigham Young University, the maker of All-American quarterbacks and a No. 1-ranked college football team.
Meet Robbie Bosco, the talk of the town in Provo.
He's on posters proclaiming BYU as the 1984 national champion. He's on posters with the 1985 BYU schedule. And he's even on a life-sized poster that sells for $4 in the BYU bookstore.
However, the monster that has been created doesn't stop there.
A Provo radio station this week offered a $20 gift certificate toward bed sheets to the first caller who knew the page Bosco appeared on in the Utah Adventures magazine. The winning lady called almost before the question could be asked.
Everybody, it seems, is on the Bosco bandwagon . . . except Bosco.
"Robbie doesn't like to see himself in life-sized posters," wide receiver Glen Kozlowski said. "He's shy and tries to stay away from people, especially reporters. In interviews, he's like a mechanical doll."
With that, Kozlowski went into his Bosco imitation: "Hi, I'm Robbie Bosco, I'm Robbie Bosco," Kozlowski said, moving his arms like a robot.
Though Bosco may try to avoid the limelight, he would probably be better off trying to escape San Diego State's defensive line Saturday without the aid of blockers. There's just no getting away from the attention Bosco has attracted since leading BYU to the No. 1 ranking.
His 1984 postseason began with an appearance on Good Morning America. Bosco even wore a tie for the program, which isn't the real Bosco at all.
According to Kozlowski, Bosco is still just some plain, old guy around campus. You can expect to see Bosco in jeans and T-shirts, not slacks and ties, Kozlowski said.
And so it was that when Bosco appeared for an interview earlier this week, he fit the image Kozlowski portrayed by wearing jeans, a BYU jacket and a New York Yankee cap. Bosco is not a Yankee fan, but he bought the cap before BYU played Boston College in East Rutherford, N.J., earlier this season.
Bosco's teammates often tease him good-naturedly about his image. Wide receiver Mark Bellini said Bosco likes to stay home and watch television with his girlfriend rather than go to parties. Kozlowski said that from what he has heard, Bosco would rather stay home and eat ice cream sundaes than be on center stage.
But while Bosco's teammates think he is trying to hide from the limelight, Bosco says that is only somewhat the case.
"I do get tired of answering the same questions," he said. "But it's for a good cause, and that's us."
At BYU, "us" begins with the quarterback. And for the last 1 1/2 seasons, the quarterback has been Bosco.
The procession of BYU quarterbacks before Bosco has been well documented. There was Gifford Nielsen, who retired from the NFL in 1983, Marc Wilson of the Raiders, Jim McMahon of the Chicago Bears and Steve Young of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
None of Bosco's predecessors were heavily recruited out of high school.
Nielsen had to be coerced out of basketball to play football. Wilson was considered a better prep baseball player. McMahon was not recruited by any schools below 2,000 feet sea level. And Young was recruited only by BYU and North Carolina State.
Bosco came out of high school in Roseville, Calif., as a relative unknown. He was not considered among the top 50 prep quarterbacks by numerous football publications.
"I was never mentioned in any of those things," he said. "I didn't understand enough about it to care about it."
Some schools cared about him. San Diego State and California tried to attract Bosco, but BYU had more to offer. Bosco, whose mother is Mormon but father is not, chose BYU because of its passing reputation. He was baptized into the Mormon church his freshman year at BYU.
On the field, Bosco received his baptism by being named the offensive MVP on BYU's junior varsity in 1981. He redshirted in 1982 and backed up Young in 1983.
"I knew I'd still have two years to play here after Steve left," Bosco said. "That's all you need here. If you play here for two years, that's enough for people to see whether you can play in the NFL."
After one year, it was obvious to Bosco he was an NFL prospect. Before this season, Bosco purchased a $500,000 insurance policy to protect against an injury that would keep him from playing pro football.
Bosco made his mark in 1984 by passing for 3,875 yards and 33 touchdowns while finishing third in the Heisman Trophy balloting. He led the nation in total offense, finished second in passing efficiency to Doug Flutie and set an NCAA record by passing for more than 200 yards in all 12 games. He was named second-team All-American by United Press International and third-team All-American by The Associated Press.