entlemen, I’m happy to be here today.Grant Teaff has asked me to discusswith you a little of our history at BrighamYoung University, how we decided to startthrowing the ball, and what our thoughtprocesses were in putting it all together.I would first like to say how proud I amto have had the opportunity to coach foot-ball as a high school coach for eight years,as an assistant coach at BYU for 10 years,and as the head football coach at BYU forthe last 29 years. It is truly a tremendousprofession and the AFCAis a great organi-zation. Grant and his staff are doing a mar-velous job with the Association. I’ve been amember for the 39 years, and needless tosay, I have seen a lot of changes in the pro-fession and this organization during thattime. I will address some of those changeslater.After graduating from Utah State in June1952, I had a two-year military commitment(ROTC) during which I played one seasonat Fort Lee, Virginia, and coached part of aseason at Fort Meade, Maryland. After thefirst four games, I received my overseasorders and was sent to Japan. Upon myrelease from the Army in August of 1954, Iwas set to return to Utah State as a gradu-ate assistant. The day before I was to start,I was offered the position of head footballcoach at Granite High School in Salt LakeCity. I coached football, wrestling and golffor eight years.In 1961, BYU hired Hal Mitchell as theirnew head coach. He had been an All-American lineman at UCLAand had playedfor Red Sanders. Hal was going to bringthe single-wing offense back to major col-lege football. In putting his staff together, Iwas apparently the only Mormon in thecountry coaching the single wing, so I washired on as an assistant coach in 1962. Itobviously didn’t work and Hal left after acouple of years.BYU then hired Tommy Hudspeth who,at the time, was coaching one of the pro-fessional teams in Canada. He retained meon his staff and I coached defense for eightyears, being the defensive coordinator thelast five.In January of 1972, Tommy left BYU anda week later they appointed me as thehead football coach. I remember thinking alot about what we needed to do to start win-ning. In 47 years of competition, BYU hadwon an average of three or four games perseason, so we didn’t have a rich tradition infootball. As a staff, we had many times dis-cussed the reasons why we couldn’t win,and we had them all down pat. The firstthing I decided to do was quit worryingabout the things we didn’t have and startfocusing on what we did have. We had tochange the image we had of ourselves firstbefore we could expect anyone to changetheir impression of us. This brings up thefirst point I would like to discuss with youtoday.
Every League Has Its“Haves” and “Have-Nots”
Whether you are coaching in junior high,high school, junior college, small college orlarge college, there will always be the"haves" and the "have-nots." BYU was def-initely a "have-not." We had a stadium thatheld 10,000, which we never filled; we hada smaller coaching staff than other schools;we had never been a consistent winner; wehad only one conference championship inhistory, that being in 1965; and there wasalmost total apathy toward football inProvo. BYU was a basketball school.In a situation like this, you have to thinka little out-of-the-box and be more cre-ative than ordinary. My attitude was not ifI was going to be fired, but when I wasgoing to get fired. That had been the pat-tern for many years. I figured since I prob-ably wasn’t going to make it anyway, I mayas well try something radically different. Idecided to throw the ball, not just the nor-mal 10-15 times a game, but 35-45 timesa game, from our own end zone to theo p po n e n t ’s one-yard line and anywhere inbetween. Ironically, that first year we hada player, Pete Van Valkenburg, who led thenation in rushing. We were picked to comein last, but we finished tied for second inthe conference.The second year, we started our pass-ing game with a quarterback named GarySheide and had our only losing season,going 5-6. The third year, we started out 0-3-1 in our first four games. We then wonseven straight games, won the conferencechampionship, and played in our first bowlgame, the Fiesta Bowl. There were otherthings that we instituted about then also,including having personal interviews two orthree times a year, organizing a players’council, and anything else we could think ofto change the image we had of ourselves.
Find a Philosophy That Works for You
I believe it is so important to base yourphilosophy on your own personality. It is all
• • • •LaVell EdwardsHead CoachBrigham Young UniversityProvo, Utah
My Approach to Football