I am, Dear Reader, going to break a promise I had made to the editor of TOTAL BLUE SPORTS and share one of the "undercovered" sports stories of BYU athletics related to its men's volleyball program.">

I am, Dear Reader, going to break a promise I had made to the editor of TOTAL BLUE SPORTS and share one of the "undercovered" sports stories of BYU athletics related to its men's volleyball program.">

A One-of-a-Kind BYU Volleyball Flashback

<b><i>(EDITOR'S NOTE: This article appeared as a monthly column titled "MY TURN" in the September 2004 issue of TOTAL BLUE SPORTS magazine.)</b></i> <P> I am, Dear Reader, going to break a promise I had made to the editor of TOTAL BLUE SPORTS and share one of the "undercovered" sports stories of BYU athletics related to its men's volleyball program.

I promised not to write too many magazine stories about volleyball … even though the team has now won several NCAA national championships. That's a huge deal in my world.

Instead, let me share one of the craziest marketing schemes I was ever involved with.

It was the fall of 1981 and the men's volleyball team was still a club program under the direction of Extramural Athletics and its director, Rollie Bestor. One of the nice things about working with an Extramural Athletic program is that there is a lot of "wiggle" room when it comes to marketing and promotion.

1981 is not 2004 and one of the biggest differences between then and now was in music. Pianist Dan Fogelberg and flutist Tim Weisberg were on top of the charts. Their album, Twin Sons of Different Mothers, had just gone Platinum. Weisberg was a personal friend of BYU outside hitter Tom Peterson, now head men's coach of the Cougars, and he suggested to player/coach Mike McLean to have Weisberg sit in as an unofficial guest "player" when the Cougars played against UCLA that Saturday evening.

On Oct. 8, 1980, Weisberg delivered a rousing Homecoming concert at Smith Fieldhouse during his first appearance at BYU.

This was a different place and time at BYU and the name Tim Weisberg was instantly recognizable anywhere on the Provo campus.

So when Peterson came to McClean with the idea that he could deliver Weisberg to BYU as a "special guest player," I was all over it. Can you say the words "sellout?" I sure could. For me, it meant McLean would comp me a free trip to Hawaii that season with his Cougar spikers – and a chance for me to again body surf the waves at Laie (Oahu's north shore).

Well, Peterson delivered the goods and on Jan. 16, a scraggily haired 37-year-old walked into the Richards Building for an afternoon volleyball practice.

The news media ate it up! Everyone involved with the program knew that Weisberg was never going to step onto the floor against the Bruins … but that wasn't the point.

Think if it this way: What do you think the media and BYU fans would think if rap star Eminem walked onto the campus and suited up in Cougar blue – that is once the BYU campus police gave him a pair of iron handcuffs?

Yet, there he was, a real life rock star wearing a BYU uniform and practicing with the Cougars. It was surreal.

Everything about Weisberg is what Californians call "laid back and easy." Quoting The Provo Daily Herald, "as he wiped the sweat from his brow, Weisberg said being a flute player has brought about new challenges to his life in the 11 years he's been on the professional circuit. ‘I started playing flute when I was in junior high school. It was in 1969 in graduate school when I was studying psychology that I decided I wanted to be a performer.' "

At the time, Weisberg had put out 13 albums; he had a special gleam in his eye when he spoke of his (then) recent dual album with Fogelberg. Weisberg, who had driven to Provo for a mini-vacation, was bounding around the Richard Building floor like a man 15 years younger with the BYU squad and handled passes and attacks at the net like a junior in his prime.

Coach McClean made it clear to the media that even though the famous instrumentalist was only going to be a spectator in the match against UCLA, Weisberg was going to spend the week with the BYU team as an outside hitter.

When game night came, you would not believe the crowd that came to the Smith Fieldhouse! Nearly 4,000 students streamed through the front doors more than an hour before the match started, searching out prime seats for themselves and friends.

It was more than a volleyball match; it was, to use a phrase of the time, a "happening." And the most controversial aspect of having a "rock star" playing for the Cougars was his outrageous hair. His hair more than slightly exceeded the grooming standards of BYU.

"Nobody ever really told me what the standards are," said Weisberg with a smile. "All I know is that my hair is shorter now than when I performed here."

Well, the Cougars won that match … and I got my free trip to Hawaii.

And, to think I owed my short-lived suntan and two week Hawaiian vacation to a 30-something pop star flutist!

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