Class Note: Tales of a Touchdown Triumph
In 1980 finance alum Ryan Tibbitts was one year away from graduating, but it wasn’t the textbooks he was hitting hard. Tibbitts was gearing up, along with the rest of the BYU football team, to take on Southern Methodist University—a showdown now immortalized in Tibbitts’s new book, Hail Mary: The Inside Story of BYU’s 1980 Miracle Bowl Comeback.
“It really was a miraculous finish,” says Tibbitts, who played sixth receiver on the team. “We were losing 45–25 with less than four minutes to go in the game, and we came back to beat them 46–45.”
The 1980 Miracle Bowl is legendary—and not just among BYU fans. In fact, it’s ranked as one of the top ten bowl games in the history of football. Thirty-five years after the clock stopped, leaving BYU the unexpected victor, footage of the game is still receiving airtime.
In his book, Tibbitts offers much more than an ESPN rerun of the historic game. His account gives unparalleled access to the events of the season, both on and off the field, with a personal touch.
“I’m not necessarily a writer, and I don’t know that I’ll write anything else,” he explains. “It was a labor of love for me to reconnect with all my old teammates and coaches and hear what they had to say and what they could remember.”
Looking back, the moment Tibbitts remembers most is the Hail Mary pass that tied the game as the clock ran out.
“Nothing can top that as far as excitement and drama,” he says. “It has been voted several times as the most important play in BYU history—above anything in the national championship season.”
Following his football days, Tibbitts received his BS in 1981 and entered the BYU Law School, graduating in 1984. He has been practicing law in Utah, specializing in litigation management and is currently working as in-house counsel for Qualtrics International. He and his wife, Nan, live in Park City, Utah, with their five children.