It’s 1984 on Pac-12 Friday this week, and that means it was the year when the Conference of Champions was denied a mythical national title when one of its B1G brethren failed in bowl season—even if the Pac-10 team in question didn’t deserve it, either. That’s why we’re here, however: to find the factual truths in sports history.
So hang on for a fun ride, folks! It is Friday, after all …
1984 Pac-10 MVP: Rueben Mayes, RB, Washington State (original, confirmed)
The USC Trojans claimed the league crown with a 7-1 conference record, edging out No. 2-ranked Washington (6-1), thanks to a head-to-head victory. Both Arizona and UCLA finished 5-2 in conference play to round out the top contenders. Meanwhile, Washington State running back Rueben Mayes won the offensive MVP vote, even though the Cougars finished fifth in Pac-10 play with a 4-3 mark.
Will Mayes keep his hardware? It’s going to be close, as no QB from these five schools finished with a QB rating over 116.0, which is pretty mediocre. The best position/skill players were Mayes (1,750 scrimmage yards), Arizona State RB Darryl Clack (1,437), and Trojans RB Fred Crutcher (1,237). Clearly, Mayes was the best player of the bunch, and the Cougs would have been under .500 without him.
Would USC have won without Crutcher? It’s hard to tell; Trojans QB Tim Green was terrible, throwing just 5 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, while completing only 51.8 percent of his passes. The Trojans defense carried this team, allowing only 14.4 points per game. Crutcher merely was the best of several role players on offense, so we’re going to confirm Mayes’ award for overall excellence and value.
1984 B1G MVP: Keith Byars, RB, Ohio State (original, confirmed)
Ohio State emerged from a convoluted race to claim the conference title with a 7-2 mark in B1G play. Illinois and Purdue finished 6-3, while Iowa and Wisconsin both posted 5-3-1 league records. Buckeyes RB Keith Byars was voted the MVP, as he posted 2,243 scrimmage yards and 24 TDs to top the conference in both categories. He also finished second in the Heisman voting.
We’re going to confirm this award without much consternation: The next-best player in the league posted just 1,274 scrimmage yards. And even though our pick for MVP last year, Iowa QB Chuck Long, topped the conference in passing TDs (22) and passer rating (156.4), Byars clearly was the horse for the Ohio State team that won the league crown by a game over multiple contenders, including the Hawkeyes.
1985 Rose Bowl MVP: Tim Green, QB, and Jack Del Rio, LB, USC Trojans (original, tie); Green (revised)
The Trojans topped the Buckeyes, 20-17, in the Granddaddy of Them All, with USC’s Green and linebacker Jack Del Rio sharing the MVP honors at the time. We don’t like the Del Rio pick, as Ohio State out-gained USC, 403 yards to 261 yards, which means we also do not like the Green choice. So who should be our Rose Bowl MVP selection?
Green was 13-for-25 with two TD passes and no interceptions, but he only managed 128 yards through the air. Yet the Trojans took a 17-6 halftime lead on those scores, and Green did play mistake-free football. We like that angle more than the defensive angle with Del Rio, who merely spearheaded an All-Star crew on that side of the ball. He also didn’t force a turnover himself. So this goes to Green, solo.