BYU coach reaches 200-win milestone

It all began for Lavell Edwards with a 32-9 win over Kansas State in 1972. That was his first game and first win as a college head coach. A 49-47 thriller over New Mexico on Sept. 24 marked win No. 200, a milestone that put the 63-year-old Cougar veteran in an elite fraternity of college coaches.

Only 13 other coaches have made it to the 200-win plateau, led by Paul (Bear) Bryant who totaled 323, mostly at Alabama. Active coaches on the list are Penn State's Joe Paterno (261), Florida State's Bobby Bowden (243), Nebraska's Tom Osborne (210), and Iowa's Hayden Fry (202).Maybe more impressive are the names not on the list including Bud Wilkinson and Barry Switzer at Oklahoma, Notre Dame's Knute Rockne and Ara Parseghian, and Ohio State's Woody Hayes.

Promoted from assistant to head coach in 1972, Edwards took over a program that had enjoyed spotty success at best - one WAC title (1965) and a second place in the conference's first 10 years.

Installing a high-powered passing attack and a stubborn defense, Edwards led the Cougars to the top, literally. After 10 straight WAC titles, BYU won the national championship in 1984. The Cougars went on to win 11 straight conference crowns, and Edwards has a grand total of 16.

His fewest wins in 22 seasons was five in 1973. That was BYU's last losing season. His teams have won 10 or more games eight times including the 13-0 national championship season.

Bowl games have been almost an annual affair for BYU in Edward's tenure. His Cougars have only missed out on a post-season bowl trip four times and have been to 16 in a row. They played in the first seven Holiday Bowls in San Diego as the WAC champion and have appeared there a total of 11 times.

He has turned out numerous players who were drafted by National Football League teams including all-American quarterbacks Ty Detmer, Robbie Bosco, Steve Young, Jim McMahon, Marc Wilson, Gifford Nielsen and Gary Sheide. Detmer won the Heisman Trophy in 1990.

Other national award winners coached by Edwards were defensive lineman Jason Buck and offensive lineman Mohammed Elewonibi who each earned the Outland Trophy, given for the best interior lineman in the nation.

Edwards was born in Provo, Utah, and went to Lincoln High School in Orem. He then attended Utah State University and played center and linebacker for the Aggies. While there, he met his wife-to-be, Patti Covey.

His coaching career started when he was a player-coach with the Fort Mead team while he was serving in the Army in Maryland. Then he landed a job at Granite High School in Salt Lake City where he coached from 1954 until he became a BYU assistant in 1962.

After graduating from Utah State and earning a master's degree at the University of Utah in 1960, Edwards continued his education while being a college head coach. He earned a doctor of education degree from BYU in 1978.

He has earned a great deal of respect in and out of the coaching fraternity. He was voted WAC coach of the year six times and won the Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year award in 1979. In the national championship season, he was named coach of the year by the American Football Coaches, the Football Writers and the Pigskin Club of Washington D.C. In 1988 he was president of the American Football Coaches Association.

An active member of the Church and a former bishop, Edwards uses the missionary program to the team's benefit. He encourages players who are LDS to serve missions and then welcomes them back two years later more mature physically, mentally and emotionally.

Winning his 200th wasn't easy. In his first try, the Cougars were upset at home by Colorado State, 28-21, on Sept. 17. Then the following week the team had to hold off several vigorous comebacks by a winless New Mexico team before rising in triumph.

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