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LaVel Edwards - ByU

LaVel Edwards - ByU

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Published by Michael Schearer

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Published by: Michael Schearer on Jan 18, 2012
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G
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
 
right to emulate the traits and concepts ofothers, but don’t just try to imitate othercoaches. My philosophy includes severalkeys to success.
Be Consistent:
I believe maybe themost important characteristic you can havewhen dealing with others is to be consis-tent. Communication is so important and isbest when those around you know whereyou are coming from on all issues. I believethis develops honesty, which in turn devel-ops trust. Without trust you will neverdevelop good communication. The greatthing about coaching is that there are somany different ways of doing things based,of course, on what a coach believes andwhat course he wants to take to find suc-cess. We can win with a player who has anaverage throwing arm if he is consistentand runs the offense. You cannot win withan inconsistent performer regardless ofhow well he can throw the ball.
Concentration/Intensity:
Two things Iexpect from the team during practice areconcentration and intensity. You cannotimprove without a full measure of both. Somany times in practice, players and coach-es just go through the motions and are notfocused on what they are doing. To me, thisis where mental toughness comes intoplay. Mental toughness is more importantthan physical toughness because it helpsyou stay focused and concentrate on whatyou are trying to accomplish.Intensity has to come from within. It hasnothing to do with how vocal or overt aplayer is. It can be someone who is vocal,but it is often the player who is quiet.Whether players are born with this trait or itis developed, I’m not sure; however, I doknow there have been players who haveimproved their intensity levels with hardwork. If you can find a player who practiceshard and concentrates each day, you willhave a player who will win for you.
Execution:
As coaches, we all have atendency to do too much. We will havemore plays than we will ever use in a game.It’s always interesting how much time wepractice new plays, maybe use them a fewtimes, and then come back to the basicplays we have run for years. It is importantfor a head coach to allocate the time nec-essary for the team to thoroughly learnwhat is to be accomplished that week. Youmust do more than give lip service to spe-cial teams. Too many times coaches getpressed for time and let this very importantarea slip. We always do special teams dur-ing the first part of practice, allowingenough time to get everything done that wehave planned.As an example of having to plan andexecute your practice schedule properly,look at the H Option, a play that doesn’tappear to be all that complicated. It is, how-ever, a play that requires a lot of repetitionin practice because of all the reads andoptions it can have.This is just one pass play. When youadd all the different formations andmotions you can use to run this pattern, itadds to the practice time needed to makeit eff e c t i v e .This particular play has been very goodfor us for a number of years. The last two orthree years, however, we haven’t been aseffective in running this play, probablybecause we haven’t spent the time neces-sary in practice to make it work.
LaVell Edwards was the third-winningest active coach in Division I-A when heretired following the 2000 season. He led the Cougars to 20 conference cham-pionships, 22 bowl games and the national championship in 1984.Diagram 1Diagram 2Diagram 3ADiagram 3BDiagram 3C

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