Whenever Hawaii plays BYU, the name “Walter Murray” and the word “drop” come up together repeatedly … even now 27 years later.
The more times I look at Murray’s “drop” of a potential game-winning touchdown pass in the 1984 game against BYU, the more I question whether it’s actually a “drop.” Raphel Cherry’s pass is certainly catchable, but not an easy one — even for the 6-foot-4 Murray.
One of the most subjective things in sports, the dropped pass. When we were kids, to me it was, “If you can get your hands on it, and you don’t catch it, it’s a drop.” Not so these days. Maybe I’m just getting old and soft, but like Red Sox fans and Bill Buckner a few years ago, maybe it’s time for Warrior fans to “forgive” Walter Murray (especially since it’s debatable whether this is actually a “drop” or not). Murray was one of the best receivers in UH history and made plenty of big plays in his career.
Take a look at this video (sorry, it’s a BYU production, celebrating its 25 year anniversary of its national championship season). At the end it shows two views of the play. On the first, it looks like an easy drop. On the second, it looks like a very tough catch. I was sitting in the stands that night, behind the end zone, fairly close. But Murray’s back was to me, and I couldn’t judge drop or no-drop.
And, like Buckner’s error, it’s important to remember that the Cherry-Murray disconnect is just one play in the game; the incredible leaping goal-line tackle by Kyle Morrell of Cherry was huge. And that is the play the Cougars and their fans remember.