Little did I realize when I married a handsome young football player, nearly 50 years ago, that he would become the sixth-winningest coach in the history of college football and have a stadium named after him.

Truthfully, I haven't always been glad that LaVell elected to stay in football. When we were first married, I thought football was like the measles and would go away. It didn't.

And for the first five years of our married life I did everything I could to try and get rid of the ailment. My efforts were in vain, and so I decided if I couldn't beat football, I'd better join it. I did, and I have never looked back.

Today, I'm the one who enjoys "Monday Night Football." And, yes, I can watch college football on the tube all day. I'm hooked on the game.

Because we have spent our youth and the biggest part of our lives involved in football I recognize that it has had an important part in helping to develop who we are and what we are all about. It's been like a roller-coaster ride. It's had its ups and its downs and has had its breathtaking moments because of its thrills and excitement.

Consequently, the developing process has been both positive and negative. It has also been terrifying and painful, yet gratifying and rewarding.

One might wonder how we as a family — that includes me and the children — have survived the excitement of a public roller coaster. The main reason is that we have always known that we come first and are more important to LaVell than football.

However, because of the complete dedication that is required for a coach to succeed in the profession, it has required sacrifices from all of us. One of the biggest sacrifices is time and togetherness.

For example, two years in a row the boys and I spent the Christmas holidays by ourselves in Provo while LaVell coached in the Blue-Gray game in Alabama. The reason we stayed home was because Jim was playing on an all-star basketball team. Many times I've had to go to activities by myself because LaVell was out recruiting. We both have missed grandchildren's activities because of football commitments. Someone asked me, "What are you going to do with LaVell now that he has retired?" I answered, "Just enjoy him and have him to myself."

Because I'm a very private person I find it hard to be scrutinized. It has been painful when I see my husband, our football players and team criticized by the fans and the media. At times it has been terrifying for me when strangers have walked up to me and berated me because the Cougs lost a game. That has been the negative side of the coin toss.

I've always claimed that the wins in football keep a coach employed, but it's the relationships along the way that make it worthwhile. That is one of the positive sides of the football profession. It's been a great experience and very gratifying to have been involved with so many people over the years.

I feel that our family is closer because of football. Together we have basked in the glory of a win, and together we have been dejected over a devastating loss. We have been shown how to prioritize by the example of LaVell. He never brings football home after a game. He comes home full of love and gratitude for his family.

We have learned to love and respect others who come from different backgrounds, cultures and religions. We have been able to extend our family boundaries to those we work with. During the past 29 years that we have spent most of our Christmases at bowl games, I have often been asked, "I bet it's so hard not to spend the Christmas holidays at home, isn't it? Not having your family with you."

I have always replied, "But we are with our family. The football players, coaches, coaches' wives and families are part of our family."

Yes, relationships with myself, my husband, my family, my extended family and my community have made football a great ride for me.

And it has been a great ride.