Great Coach-Greater Man-Great Loss”
College football is mourning this morning, saying good bye to a gentleman, a great coach, but maybe a greater person.
LaVell Edwards has passed away at age (86) in Provo,Utah. He fell on Christmas Eve at home, breaking his hip. He developled complications and passed less than a week later.
He was not with Brigham Young here in town during their Holiday Bowl victory over Wyoming, a first, for a man who always in traveled with the Cougars, even in retirement.
There’s an empty feeling lots of places, when we got news last night of his passing.
Edwards was the architect of the great offenses at Brigham Young.
Yes, Virgil Carter might have been the first big thrower in Provo, but when they promoted Edwards to head coach, he took Cougars football to a level never ever thought possible.
He developed an assembly line of quarterbacks. Some were systems guys, robots making plays. Other’s were mechanical nightmares who grew on the job. Some were just born leaders and grinders, not necessarily loaded with talent.
But there’s no doubt about the greatness of what they ran at BYU.
It started with the tall and lanky Gifford Neilsen, who put up some nice numbers in the early years.
Then came the first of the big numbers guys, Marc Wilson, a prototype big NFL made quarterback.
From Jim McMahon, free spirit and street hustler, came fire and brimstone, spit and grime..
There was Steve Young, who was learning how to throw after having been more run than pass, when he first got to Brigham Young.
The born passers then arrived, from Robbie Bosco to Ty Detmer, systems guys who knew where to go with the ball, and how to read progressions.
Steve Sarkisian was the last of the bunch, who did good things for the two years he was there after coming out of the JUCO ranks.
Brigham Young rose in the rankings, and capped it off, not with just record shattering passing record seasons, but an unbeaten season and a national championship.
They came knocking on LaVell Edwards door. Would have want to go to the NFL? Would what he ran at BYU, work in the NFL? He was courted multiple times by the Eagles and also the Steelers.
He said thanks, no thanks, and stayed loyal to his mission, to work with players coming off Mormon missions.
He built that stadium in Provo, brick-by-brick, touchdown pass-by-touchdown pass. When his life’s work was done on the sidelines, he became a fund raiser at Brigham Young. He was stern believer in discipline, leadership, and working with faith.
He had a (257-101-3) record. There were 22-bowl appearances in 29-years. There were 27-years without a losing record. There were 20-conference titles. He helped put the Holiday Bowl on the map.
And to top it off, so many of his assistants wound up as head coaches, in the NFL and in college, from Mike Holmgren, to Andy Reid, to Ted Tollner.
LaVell Edwards was kind, gentle, simple and smart. He was classy to deal with. The epitome of what a good man is all about.
Not bad for a defensive coordinator in college, who became a head coach, and built brilliant offenses.
Great coach.. Greater man.
There is sorrow in every corner of college football this morning, but thanks that the man crossed our paths.