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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended August 20, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 19Aug00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Edwards Lauded as The Coach That Changed The Game

PROVO, UTAH -- After BYU head football coach LaVell Edwards announced that he will retire at the end of the season, praise has poured in from observers and the press nationwide. Edwards announced his retirement at a press conference yesterday afternoon at Cougar Stadium before a crowd of about 100.

News reports on Edwards praised his effect on the game of football. "Some coaches just win games. BYU coach LaVell Edwards changed the game," wrote CBS Sportsline senior writer Dennis Dodd. He went on to observe "The roots of Edwards' passing game can be found in almost every college and pro program." According to Dodd, Edwards is poised to pass Tom Osborne's 255 career wins as a coach to reach 6th place on the career wins list. just two active coaches have more wins than Edwards.

One of those coaches, Penn State's Joe Paterno, added his own praise of Edwards yesterday, "LaVell is one of the giants in our profession," Paterno said in a statement released through the school. "There isn't anyone I respect more in coaching than LaVell." Colorado State's Sonny Lubick agreed, "LaVell is as classy a guy as I've had the pleasure of meeting in this profession. All the reasons for doing this now is I'm sure he's putting other people's best interests before himself."

However, Edwards stated reasons for retiring are simple. "What motivated me was never one more championship or rankings," he told those at the press conference. "What motivated me was one more challenge. I can honestly say that two weeks after the national championship I'd forgotten about it. Going into spring practice, I know this was going to be my last year. The real tipoff is when you don't have that excitement."

While he may not have anything left to prove today, his first challenge on becoming BYU's head coach in 1972 was clear. He inherited a team with a cumulative 173-232-23 record over 47 years (winning just 43% of its games). The team had never been to a bowl game and had won just one conference championship.

To meet the challenge, Edwards radically changed how the game is played. Inheriting a team that ran the football, like the leading teams of the day, Oakland and Alabama, Edwards instead focused on passing. "I did have a plan when I came," he said. "I knew were going to throw the football. Just before I became the head coach, Stanford had gone to the Rose Bowl throwing the ball. I remember thinking, 'Being a private school, maybe that was the way to go.'"

It worked. Edwards accumulated a record of 251-95-3 over 28 seasons (winning 72% of his games), and his teams played in 22 bowl games and won 20 conference titles. Under Edwards, the cougars have finished the year in the top 25 college teams 13 times, including once as #1, in 1984.

Unlike the resentment that sometimes is expressed of other coaches, Edwards current and former staff uniformly praise him. Norm Chow, who worked as a coach under Edwards for 22 years and left BYU after the end of last season, said, "He's a good man who deserves to go out in style. He is responsible for the innovation of the passing game in college before it's time. It equalized the talent. Everybody's doing it now."

Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren, who worked for Edwards as an assistant from 1982 to 1985, says Edwards' style heavily influenced him also, "Coach Edwards took a real chance in hiring me as a high school coach basically to coach the quarterbacks at BYU," Holmgren said. "And a lot of my philosophy today is based on the way he treated people, the way he did things. It was an honor to work for him and I hope he enjoys his last season."

Coaches that worked for Edwards are scattered throughout the NFL and college football. They include Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick and Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid who both played for the Cougars. Alabama's quarterbacks coach Charlie Stubbs and Chow, now North Carolina State offensive coordinator, also played for BYU or worked under Edwards. Even Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Gary Crowton, while he didn't play or coach for Edwards, claims that Edwards' style of play influenced him.

In the wake of the announcement, BYU says that it will take its time in finding a replacement for Edwards. BYU athletic director Val Hale indicated that the search will begin "at some point where the timing is better. We're going to put the focus on this season." But Hale's statement didn't stop Charlie Stubbs from telling a Birmingham, Alabama radio station that he would love the job. "Oh, yes," he said, "We all have goals in the profession. It's exciting."

Speculation among sportswriters already is focusing on members of BYU's current staff, including long-time defensive coordinator Ken Schmidt and current offensive coordinator Lance Reynolds, as well as current quarterbacks coach and former star BYU quarterback Robbie Bosco. Other possibilities include Crowton, Cal's head coach Tom Holmoe, Texas Tech's Mike Leach, Phladephia Eagles coach Andy Reid.

But Stubbs seems to believe he has a leg up for the job. He met with Edwards in February, when he was considering several offers from the NFL, and says Edwards advised him not to take the offers. He says Edwards confided in him, saying this would likely be Edwards last season.

Still, both Edwards and BYU President Merrill Bateman implied to reporters Thursday that the new coach should come from the current staff. Edwards told the press conference, "If you keep this staff, it's (success) going to continue. There's too many things in place for it not to." And in the short term, he may have a say in that. According to Bateman, Edwards will stay on at BYU for a year to build an athletic endowment.

BYU coach Edwards to retire at end of season
CBS SportsLine 17Aug00 S2
By Dennis Dodd: Senior Writer

Ex-Coug Stubbs Among Those Who Could Replace Edwards
Salt Lake Tribune 18Aug00 S2
By Michael C. Lewis: Salt Lake Tribune

BYU's Edwards to quit after season
MSNBC 17Aug00 S2


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