Fans Remember BYU Football Coach LaVell Edwards

Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 13 January 2017

BYU President Kevin J. Worthen, left, sits next to Jimmy Edwards, son of LaVell Edwards, during a public memorial service for former Cougar football coach LaVell Edwards at the Provo Convention Center on Friday, January 6, 2017.  Photo courtesy of BYU Photo.

Article Highlights

  • Hundreds of BYU football fans and former players gathered to honor LaVell Edwards.
  • Elder Holland commemorated LaVell Edwards and his contributions to BYU.

“LaVell was true to his faith in every setting in which I ever saw him—on the field, off the field, in the locker room, on recruiting trips, holding team prayer … everywhere.” —Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

PROVO, UTAH

Hundreds of Brigham Young University football fans and former players gathered on the eve of LaVell Edwards’s January 7 funeral to honor the man who would become the Church-owned school's de-facto goodwill ambassador.

“Only the university's namesake, good old Brother Brigham himself, may be the only better-known link in the nation to this university than is the name of LaVell Edwards,” said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the January 6 public memorial service at the Utah Valley Convention Center.

The evening included a six-minute video of iconic photos of Coach Edwards, who died December 29 at the age of 86. He led BYU to an unprecedented national championship in 1984, earned 257 wins in 29 seasons as the Cougar head coach, and made countless friends and admirers inside and outside of football.

“What you saw is what you got,” said Elder Holland. “It was a quality that reassured me all those years that LaVell would never embarrass the university, nor the Church, which sponsors it,” the Deseret News reported. “He would never be found cutting corners or compromising principles or living beneath the standards that the Church and the university espoused.”

Former BYU quarterback Robbie Bosco, a convert to the Church who played on the national championship team, called his former coach a “true disciple” of Christ.

“It’s not about the wins, not the touchdown passes, not about the tackles players made,” said Brother Bosco. “It’s how he treated us as human beings and the impact he had on all our lives to make us better men, better people.”

Coach Edwards was more than a football coach, he added. He was a caring friend who was unashamed of his Church and the priesthood he bore.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles sits next to BYU senior associate athletics director Brian Santiago during a public memorial service for former Cougar football coach LaVell Edwards at the Provo Convention Center on Friday, January 6, 2017. Photo courtesy of BYU Photo.

Elder Holland also spoke of the special relationship Coach Edwards shared with his wife of 65 years, Patti Edwards.

“He was absolutely crazy about her,” he said. “And he was her slightly rumpled knight in shining armor. As their family came along, that love was showered upon [their children] Ann and John and Jimmy. … Football is what Patti and LaVell did. But disciples of Christ is what they were.”

Coach Edwards, he added, was fueled by his devotion to the gospel.

“LaVell was true to his faith in every setting in which I ever saw him—on the field, off the field, in the locker room, on recruiting trips, holding team prayer … everywhere.”

Former BYU quarterback Gary Sheide attends a public memorial service for former Cougar football coach LaVell Edwards at the Provo Convention Center on Friday, January 6, 2017. Photo courtesy of BYU Photo.

A picture of LaVell Edwards sits near the podium at a public memorial service for former Cougar football coach LaVell Edwards at the Provo Convention Center on Friday, January 6, 2017. Photo courtesy of BYU Photo.

Jimmy Edwards, son of LaVell Edwards, speaks a public memorial service for former BYU football coach LaVell Edwards at the Provo Convention Center on Friday, January 6, 2017. Photo courtesy of BYU Photo.

Jayne Edwards, granddaughter of LaVell Edwards, sings “Amazing Grace” during a public memorial service for former Cougar football coach LaVell Edwards at the Provo Convention Center on Friday, January 6, 2017. Photo courtesy of BYU Photo.

Former BYU quarterback Robbie Bosco speaks at a public memorial service for former Cougar football coach LaVell Edwards at the Provo Convention Center on Friday, January 6, 2017. Photo courtesy of BYU Photo.

Andrew Morrill plays the bagpipes at the closing of a public memorial service for former Cougar football coach LaVell Edwards at the Provo Convention Center on Friday, January 6, 2017. Photo courtesy of BYU Photo.

Former BYU linebacker Leon White attends a public memorial service for former Cougar football coach LaVell Edwards at the Provo Convention Center on Friday, January 6, 2017. Photo courtesy of BYU Photo.

BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe, center, attends a public memorial service for former Cougar football coach LaVell Edwards at the Provo Convention Center on Friday, January 6, 2017. Photo courtesy of BYU Photo.

Former BYU offensive lineman Trevor Matich, right, attends a public memorial service for former Cougar football coach LaVell Edwards at the Provo Convention Center on Friday, January 6, 2017. Photo courtesy of BYU Photo.

Former BYU players Leon White, left, and Jason Buck, center, attend a public memorial service for former Cougar football coach LaVell Edwards at the Provo Convention Center on Friday, January 6, 2017. Photo courtesy of BYU Photo.

A public memorial service for former BYU football coach LaVell Edwards is held at the Provo Convention Center on Friday, January 6, 2017. Photo courtesy of BYU Photo.

Former BYU players Shawn Knight, left, and Dan Plater, center, attend a public memorial service for former Cougar football coach LaVell Edwards at the Provo Convention Center on Friday, January 6, 2017. Photo courtesy of BYU Photo.

Dallyn Bayles sings “Danny Boy” during a public memorial service for former Cougar football coach LaVell Edwards at the Provo Convention Center on Friday, January 6, 2017. Photo courtesy of BYU Photo.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during a public memorial service for former Cougar football coach LaVell Edwards at the Provo Convention Center on Friday, January 6, 2017. Photo courtesy of BYU Photo.

A bouquet of flowers from the University of Utah football team is on display at a public memorial service for former BYU football coach LaVell Edwards at the Provo Convention Center on Friday, January 6, 2017. Photo courtesy of BYU Photo.