There are several things Brian Buckley tries not to think about. Questions that begin "what would have happened if" don't sit well with him, hold very little interest.
Yet such questions have dogged Harvard's senior quarterback since he was scarcely big enough to palm a pigskin. Buckley doesn't make any special effort to find silver linings, nor does he deny that his career has had its share of rough edges.
Consider high school, for example. Local pundits say Buckley's junior year at Marblehead High School ranks as one of the the best season performances in recent history. He brought his team to a share of the 1973 conference championship and earned All-America honors. He threw for 1800 yds. and 17 touchdowns, and his 21 for 30, 265 yd. performance against Sqampscott (and future teammate Tom Beatrice) was not atypical. So the college scouts came sniffing.
Then, in preseason camp before senior year, he fell on his shoulder and suffered a separation. He didn't play at all that year.
And even though he had a successful post-graduate year at Exeter (21 T. D.s, 2000 yds.), the offers didn't flood in as they might have if he had finished his high school career healthy.
"That injury actually gave me a better perspective on the whole college thing," he says now. Nebraska, Arizona State and SMU ("they put on quite a campaign, breakfast with Staubach, the whole thing.") still came courting, but Buckley began to ask himself "What are you going to do with the rest of your life?"
So he chose Harvard. And battled Burke St. John for playing time in the 1976 freshman team, completing nine of 23 passes for 103 yds.
He finally got the call in the big time early in sophomore year. When Larry Brown got injured in the Colgate game, Buckley came on for the second half and fired 20 completions in 40 passes for 250 total yds. The 6-ft. 3-in lefthander looked like a natural for the Multiflex.
But Brown stayed healthy in 1978, and Buck threw but a single pass. 1979 was going to be his year. He would be a senior and a star.
Academic ineligibility struck. And Buckley took a year off to work in a Boston advertising agency and on the Kennedy campaign in Massachusetts and Washington.
And when Buckley returned this fall, his original class having already graduated, the quarterback job was no longer his for the asking. So he dueled junior Mike Buchanan and sophomore Ron Cuccia for the job this summer and got Joe Restic's nod for the Columbia game.
And Buckley shined. Eleven for 20 for 137 yds. and a pair of touchdowns. And then Holy Cross; 17 for 26 for 234 yds. And then Army.
Army was to have been the Crimson's comeuppance after its 2-0 start. The Cadets had real teams on its schedule and was actually beating some of them. Big time football.
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