PROVO — Gary Crowton describes the first week-and-a-half of his tenure as BYU's head football coach as "busy."

That would be an understatement.

Since the press conference announcing his hiring on Dec. 6, Crowton has done countless media interviews, talked with Cougar assistant coaches and junior college recruits, learned about off-the-field problems involving a couple of his players, and met dozens of people on campus and around the athletic department.

Last weekend, Crowton returned to his home in Chicago to be with his wife, Maren, and their six children. He visited the headquarters of his former employer, the Chicago Bears, to turn in his keys and clean out his desk. Crowton also found time to visit a recruit in the Chicago area.

By Thursday, he was back in Provo, his agenda filled with more meetings as part of the continuing transition period.

"I've been around the program and gotten a feel for the atmosphere," Crowton said. "I've just been dealing with people and taking over daily operations."

Since beginning his coaching career as a student assistant at BYU in 1982, Crowton has bounced all over the nation, with stops in locales throughout the country. It has made him realize how different BYU is from other universities.

"It's a unique situation, being a church school," he said.

While Crowton has the utmost admiration for the man he is replacing, LaVell Edwards, he is in the process of making changes in the program. "My coaching style is different from LaVell's," he said. "I need to have a little bit different organization."

The first of his organizational moves involve assembling a coaching staff. He suggests that most of the current assistants, whom he has met with individually, will be retained.

"I'll make decisions early (this) week," Crowton said. "I've told the coaches if they have other opportunities, to pursue them. But there will probably be a lot of carryover. They're professionals. I'm impressed with their work ethic."

Crowton acknowledged that he has looked at resumes of potential assistant coaches and that he's talked to a few candidates.

As for recruiting, Crowton is pleased with the progress that has been made, though he can't comment specifically. Certainly, BYU has benefitted from the Ricks College pipeline. The Cougars have verbal commitments from three Vikings — offensive lineman Ryan Keele, defensive lineman John Denney and tight end Spencer Nead — all of whom are expected to sign with BYU on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Crowton has his family on his mind. He will fly to Chicago this week to spend Christmas with them. His family will remain in the Chicago area until their house sells. Uprooting is nothing new for the Crowtons, who have lived in 15 different places in 15 years.

"The kids are all excited about moving to Utah," he said, "but it's hard for them to leave again."

For now, Crowton doesn't know where in the Provo area he and his family will live.

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All in all, things are different here than they were years ago.

"The city's grown," he said. "The traffic's gotten worse, but not anything like Chicago. The school hasn't changed much, at least on this part of campus."

But, under Crowton, changes are coming to the BYU football program.


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