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Legendary BYU football coach LaVell Edwards dies


    Brigham Young University football coach LaVell Edwards watches his team head for a 34-17 loss to Utah in November 1995 in Provo, Utah. Edwards died today in Utah at age 86.

LaVell Edwards, a revered figure in Hawaii despite how his Brigham Young University football teams tormented Hawaii for decades, died today in Utah.

Edwards, who coached BYU to 20 conference championships and a 1984 national championship in 29 years at the helm of the Cougars, was 86.

“He was so special to so many people aside from being a fabulous coach,” said former UH coach Dick Tomey.

Between 1978 and 1988 Edwards’ teams beat the Rainbows 10 consecutive times earning the Cougars — and Edwards — the role of UH’s biggest rival.

Overall, he was 17-4 against UH in a career in which he went 257-101-3 while revolutionizing the passing game.

That the Cougars annually had a roster that included players from Hawaii made the series more intense, often playing to sellouts in Aloha Stadium and Provo, Utah.

Not until 1989 with a 56-14 victory did UH succeed in ending the string. After UH followed it up with a 59-28 victory in 1990, Edwards declared he would jump off Mount Timpanogos in Utah if UH won in Provo.

They didn’t.

“We had fabulous games with them and he was very respectful of the program we had,” Tomey said. “He had respect for Hawaii period. He had great respect for the players he was able to get from Hawaii and he had a tremendous impact on the development of Polynesia athletes.”

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  • Best coach next to Pat Hill I always wanted to beat. A privilege for Hawaii to go against him and wish there were more like him. One of the very best. Aloha and Mahalo Mr. Edwards for the memories.

  • yeah, LaVell Edwards was the head coach of the hated BYU Cougars. yes, he did steal top players from Hawaii and used them to beat UH. But at the end of the day, he was a fine man. Everybody respected him. He always had that same look on the sidelines. I never seen him lose his temper.

  • He was one heck of a guy. He took ordinary athletes and made them extraordinary. The game came second to ensure developing the person as an outstanding individual off the field first. He had a personal relationship wth each player. He will forever be remembered as a premier football coach of all time. He has left this mortal life to return back to the present of his Heavenly Father. Enjoy the journey back home.

  • The truth is that he succeeded because he had a HUGE built in recruiting advantage enhanced by ability to stockpile reserves by strategically taking advantage of the Mormon mission rules. He could build a strong team without recruiting black athletes who were still discriminated against. There is no way he succeeds up to the same level under present conditions. Just look at their football program now, it’s nowhere close to being an elite program and probably never will. Got nothing against the man but I will NEVER respect a program built on unfair practices and discrimination (and don’t tell me having Polynesians wasn’t discrimination – it was because it was exploitation of a particular group to further their own greed).

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