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  • Writer's pictureAdam Gibby

BYU Football Top 100: Lavell Edwards, the Greatest Coach to Ever Coach the Game

BYU Football starts TOMORROW!

Yes, I know that everyone was expecting a player today for the number overall one spot, but I tricked all of you! Back on day 90, I actually included both Corbin and Bronson Kaufusi which made it so that yesterday's player Jim McMahon was in fact the 100th player on the list and the overall number one.

I did all of this on purpose because I wanted to highlight the man that made 98 of the 100 players featured possible. But when I decided to make this list, I decided that it would be best to give credit where credit is due to the man who the stadium is named after.

Lavell Edwards - Head Coach - 1972-2000

I'm not sure there is an appropriate way to begin this other than to go back to the beginning. Edwards started as an assistant coach before becoming the head coach in 1972. When he took over the job, the BYU Football team was not known for ever really doing anything. In their first 47 years of recorded history the team had only had 14 winning seasons and only one of those seasons had a memorial season of going 8-1 in 1932. The Cougars had also only beaten Utah twice in that time period.

Then Lavell took over.

While Edwards is remembered for being a really dominant coach, it actually took a couple of seasons to fully get things going. It wasn't until 1976 that the Cougars had a season that would be recognized as a "Lavell" season going 9-3, but the four seasons before the Cougars still did decent with an overall 25-19 record.

A Winning Tradition

Outside of 1973 when the Cougars went 5-6, Lavell Edwards never coached a team that finished below .500. His overall wins are 7th all time behind other greats like Bear Bryant, Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden. In today's game of coaches being hired and fired so quick Lavell may forever remain in the Top 10.

Of course the most remembered season will be 1984 when the Cougars went 13-0 and won the National Championship. What people forget though is that the year before that they went 11-1, including an 11 game win streak with a different quarterback. That doesn't happen very often in college football with two different QBs.

Apart from the 1984 season, Edwards was also the first coach to lead a 14 win team. In 1996 the Cougars through some odd scheduling agreements ended up playing 15 games, and they won 14 of those. Other great records include ten -ten win seasons, including five where the Cougars were 11-1 or better.

Edwards didn't have the best bowl game record at 7-14-1, but the games he did win were memorable. The first one was the 1980 Holiday "Miracle" Bowl that had the Cougars take down SMU on a hail mary as time expired. It was the first bowl win ever for the Cougars. Of course the 1984 Holiday Bowl that won the Cougars the National Championship is memorable as well as the 1996 Cotton Bowl against No. 14 Kansas.

In total, Edwards finished his career with a 257-101-3 record including a 22-7 record against the Utes.

Changing how Football is Played

Before Lavell Edwards took over, the offense of college football centered around running the ball. No team had ever taken the pass as the main source of offense and found success with it. Passing was almost a trick play or a desperation kind of thing that teams did at the end of games or on fourth down.

When Edwards was trying to figure out his offense, he remembered seeing Virgil Carter lead the Cougars to success with some success by passing. Although it took a few years to fully commit to passing, once Edwards did, he changed college football. His first quarterback to really run the pass first offense was Marc Wilson. Not only did he lead the NCAA his senior season, he broke the NCAA record for passing yards in a season. A few years later Jim McMahon did it again and then Steve Young did as well. Through this time, the Cougars won 11 games seven out of eight seasons and forever changed the game of football.

In total, he coached 6 All-Americans and coached Gifford Nielsen, Jim McMahon, Marc Wilson, Steve Young, Ty Detmer, John Walsh, Steve Sarkisian, Kevin Feterik and Brandon Doman.

When everything was all finished, he coached over 11,000 passes for more than 100,000 yards and 635 touchdowns.

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