Right before halftime the BYU Cougars were knocking on the door of the endzone. After failed runs on 1st and 2nd down BYU was face with a critical 3rd and goal. A fan who was sitting behind me did not agree with Coach Robert Anae calling back to back run plays and said, "Great, now we have to throw it in...What would you call coach?"
"Coach Edwards, what would you call?" chimed in another fan.
"Yeah Lavell, what do you call here?" asked a third BYU fan...
"A touchdown" I heard a man in a straw hat say from a couple ways back.
I had to turn around and validate it for myself, and sure enough, there he was. The iconic Lavell Edwards. At the half I watched him for a minute, wondering if he would be a little upset that his covert cover was blown. I waited for the throngs that would swarm him for a handshake, a picture or an autograph. Interestingly enough, nobody went up to him, maybe partly because everyone was rushing for more water. So I figured I would take the opportunity to go say hi. After all, I think I am one of a rare few who was recruited under Coach Edwards and then played under Coach Crowton and Coach Mendenhall. I had sat in his office a few times, and met him on other various occasions over the years. I didn't want to bother him, so I merely said hello, asked him how he was doing and said hello to his wife. That was pretty much the conversation. I then said "enjoy the game" and returned to my seat.
But the impact of the conversation did not end there. I continued to think about what little I knew of Coach Edwards as a coach. The impact that he had on me in such a short time, and the influence that he has had on Coach Mendenhall. I thought about the times he came back to speak to us players, and wondered if the younger guys in the program now even know who he was or what he was to BYU football. I started thinking about the statue I saw outside Doak Cambell Stadium of one, Bobby Bowden. I couldn't help but thinking about how many lives those two individuals, and all great coaches, had touched, molded and changed.
Lavell Edwards was more than a coach. I hear it constantly in interviews of his former players. What speaks to me is that not only his direct influence touches people. Indirectly he continues to promote greatness in players and people because of those he has tutored. The principles that he has shared with Coach Mendenhall have impacted my life, and I hope that I have passed on those same principles of excellence and delegation and accountability to those I have coached, and will coach in the future.
It amazes me how just a simple hello to such a great man, inspires me to look inward and ask myself, "How have I contributed to those around me lately? How can I emulate the great principles Coach Edwards stands for?"
This brief encounter was surely worth the trip to Tallahassee, Florida.