One of the soft-spoken giants of college football has been silenced.
BYU confirmed Thursday afternoon that LaVell Edwards had passed away earlier in the day at the age of 86. According to the school, Edwards was surrounded by his wife Patti and his family.
Edwards’ wife told the Provo Daily Herald that her husband fell and broke his hip on Christmas Eve, which contributed to his death.
Edwards spent 29 seasons as the Cougars head football coach, guiding the program to 257 wins in that span. Prior to Edwards’ arrival in 1972, BYU had won 173 games the previous 49 seasons. Those 257 wins are the seventh-most ever for a Div. 1 coach, and he trails only Penn State’s Joe Paterno (409) and Florida State’s Bobby Bowden (304) for most victories at one school.
In 22 of his 29 seasons, Edwards’ teams qualified for a bowl. In 20 of those seasons, they either won outright or shared a conference title.
His 1984 Cougars won the national championship, the last non-Power Five program that claimed a title.
While his coaching prowess was undeniable — he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004 — and his influence on the sport is felt to this day, it was LaVell Edwards the man who was on the minds of most today.
“I love LaVell Edwards. He came into my life, and the life of many others, at just the right time,” BYU director of athletics Tom Holmoe said. “I had the influence of a great coach, a wonderful person, a disciple of Christ, a loyal family man and a true friend, from the day I met him until the day he passed away. LaVell had a pure heart. He was the dream coach of every parent. His example will forever be with me and I will strive to live a life of love as he always did.”
“I was saddened to hear that LaVell passed away this morning,” BYU head football coach Kalani Sitake said. “My thoughts and prayers are with Patti and the entire family. As I have expressed many times, LaVell had a tremendous impact on me, not only as a player and as a coach but even more importantly as a person. That is LaVell. He had an impact on so many lives, and not just as coach but as a person. So many people — players, coaches, fans, the entire BYU family, coaching colleagues and opponents — will tell you they are a better person because of him, and I’m definitely one of them. We all love LaVell and appreciate the amazing legacy he leaves with each of us.
Sorry to hear of Lavell Edwards passing. True mentor and friend. His personal influence will be with me forever.
— Bronco Mendenhall (@UVACoachBronco) December 29, 2016