To the BYU Board of Trustees:
Dear Sirs;You've no doubt heard that LaVell Edwards, your longtime football coach, is approaching a major milestone today. He's going to make history. He's going to - I know this sounds unbelievable - unfold his arms, smile and maybe do a cartwheel.
No, just kidding. Actually, he's going to do something that will be much easier for him. Some time late this afternoon he'll claim the 200th victory of his career, provided Colorado State cooperates. Which brings me to the point.
Can you think of anything - anything at all - that you as BYU's Head Honchos could do to mark the occasion and honor this man? I realize that a salary commensurate with his value on the open market is out of the question, but how about something symbolic, something of permanence, something that will evoke his name for generations to come?
How about renaming Cougar Stadium after him.
After all, Edwards virtually built the place. He never poured concrete or lifted a hammer, and as far as I know he didn't donate a cent toward its funding, but he did build a winning program and a following that forced BYU to double the size of its stadium to 65,000 seats, which have been filled every game for 13 years.
Need I remind you that 22 years ago Edwards took a mediocre (at best) program and turned it into a Top 20 team, giving the school unprecedented recognition. He is the man who brought BYU 199 victories (against 73 losses and 3 ties), 16 conference championships, one national championship, 19 wins over Utah, a string of famous quarterbacks, 25 All-Americans, two Outland Trophy winners and one Heisman Trophy winner. Only 13 Division 1 coaches have won more games than he has.
What else does a guy have to do these days to get his name on a stadium - besides pry open his wallet?
This is not exactly new thinking. The idea of naming the stadium after Edwards has come up several times around campus, but to no avail. No one's acted on these suggestions. What is this, Congress?
BYU named the Marriott Center after a hotel magnate and for a very good reason: He paid for it. But Edwards has given the school some things money can't buy. Not only has he given BYU wins and championships, but he has done it with class and fair play and all the other things for which the school stands.
Certainly a precedent has been established at BYU for naming campus structures after people who have served the school and/or excelled in their fields of expertise while also exhibiting high moral character. Just walk around the campus. There's the Ernest L. Wilkinson student union building and the Abraham O. Smoot administration building. The Harold B. Lee Library. The Spencer W. Kimball tower. The Ezra Taft Benson Institute. The N. Eldon Tanner business building. The James E. Talmage mathematical sciences building. The J. Reuben Clark law building.
You get the idea. Every campus structure has got a person's name on it. If you can name something the Monte L. Bean life sciences building after a trophy hunter, you can name Cougar Stadium after a legendary football coach. Trust me on this one: There will never be another Edwards.
Once you decide to name the stadium after Edwards, then you've got half the problem licked. Now all you have to decide is which name to use.
I know that BYU is big on full names - N. Eldon Tanner, George Albert Smith, James E. Talmage, etc. - so probably you'll go for the whole deal if you choose to rename Cougar Stadium. That would be, uh . . . REUBEN LAVELL EDWARDS STADIUM.
Be warned, if you use the full name, Edwards might pass on the honor. Can we talk? The last thing in the world he wants is to see REUBEN in big block letters in Cougar Stadium. He doesn't like his first name. At least one BYU official, apparently guarding a state secret, refused to divulge the name except to say it begins with R. Our crack team of reporters uncovered the name anyway. VEE HAVE VAYS OF MAKING YOU TALK.
You can hardly blame Edwards for feeling this way - Coach Reuben? - although it beats me how a guy named LaVell can be sensitive about it. With a dad named Philo, he could've done worse.
(Maybe this is why Edwards is good friends with the similarly named Ladell Andersen, the former BYU basketball coach. Andersen's real first name is, no kidding, Fred.) So what do we care. Give Edwards the name he wants. He deserves it.
R. LAVELL EDWARDS STADIUM.
Hmmm, not bad. Not bad at all.