Famed Brigham Young University football coach LaVell Edwards died Thursday at the age of 86, according to the coach’s longtime friend, Sy Kimball.
Minutes after his death, Edwards became the No. 1 trending topic in the United States on Twitter Thursday morning.
Edwards’ legacy will last a long time, according to our own Dick Harmon. The coach inspired a number of other prolific coaches, including the University of Utah’s Kyle Whittingham, BYU’s Kalani Sitake and Washington State’s Mike Leach.
He also served as an early model for storied NFL coaches including Andy Reid, Mike Holmgren and Brian Billick, according to the Deseret News.
Edwards, born on Oct. 11, 1930, also became the namesake of BYU’s current football stadium.
“LaVell Edwards’ legacy will forever be the feat of creating an iconic football brand from something that had always been so much less,” according to the Deseret News. “He was a man known for his remarkable insight into the souls of young men. An innovator and visionary, he made friends as easily as the rest of us breathe. He will be remembered as a tremendous example, a pillar among his peers.”
Gov. Gary Herbert shared his thoughts on Edwards in a statement.
LaVell Edwards was both a legend and a friend. My prayers are with Patti and entire Edwards family at this time. LaVell, you will be missed. pic.twitter.com/li3UAkoWPr— Gov. Gary Herbert (@GovHerbert) December 29, 2016
As did Rep. Jason Chaffetz.
Julie and I share the tremendous sense of loss felt by so many in our community over the death… https://t.co/sQdPWk8ozi— Jason Chaffetz (@jasoninthehouse) December 29, 2016
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, issued a statement on Thursday about Edwards’ death.
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of my good friend, LaVell Edwards. Coach Edwards was a gentle giant of the gridiron — a humble yet confident leader who guided the BYU football program through decades of unprecedented success,” Hatch said. “He was a champion both on and off the field. For thousands of athletes and millions of fans across the nation, LaVell was far more than a steady presence on the sideline; he was a visionary leader, a father figure and a trusted friend. I will be forever grateful for my own friendship with LaVell Edwards. He was not only one of the most successful coaches in college football history but one of the greatest men I ever knew. Today, my prayers are with Patti and all members of the Edwards family.”
Utah Sen. Jim Debakis issued a statement on Twitter.
Sad. LaVell Edwards. Full of class as a coach and as a man. Dead at 86. #utpol— Jim Dabakis (@JimDabakis) December 29, 2016
Former BYU player and current radio host Hans Olsen shared his thoughts on Twitter, too.
I'll always love you Lavell Edwards! You were my mentor, my friend and my hero.— Hans Olsen (@975Hans) December 29, 2016
Thanks for believing in me & loving me.
I miss you already.
Former BYU players, coaches and fans took to Twitter to share their condolences over Edwards’ death.
In 1973 LaVell Edwards hired my dad @ BYU. His only coaching experience was 1 yr as a HC in high school. Forever grateful to this great man— Fred Whittingham Jr. (@FWhittinghamJr) December 29, 2016
There will never be another man with the success of Lavell Edwards who simultaneously stayed as grounded and true to who he was. RIP— David Locke (@Lockedonsports) December 29, 2016
Our love and prayers go out to the Edwards family. BYU will always be grateful for the man and coach LaVell Edwards was. https://t.co/inFaWqGn46— BYU Alumni (@BYUalumni) December 29, 2016
I'm so sad. LaVell Edwards was a legend. He gave me the time of day. Hilarious sense of humor. Empowered assistants. Amazing man.— Jarom Jordan (@jaromjordan) December 29, 2016
LaVell Edwards is BYU football. AMAZING football coach and an even better person. Thoughts and prayers with his family and players— Bai (@Baileygard_) December 29, 2016
The greatest coach to ever do it, and an even better man. The world is a better place because of LaVell Edwards. pic.twitter.com/ILWXerD7BM— The Roar Of Cougars (@byuROC) December 29, 2016
Utah fans also expressed heartwarming thoughts for Edwards.
Doesn't matter who you root for in this state. Lavell Edwards was a hell of a football coach. RIP— Utah A&M (@Utah_AM) December 29, 2016
Media members across the country from sports and new organizations alike paid homage to him, too.
RIP to an absolute legend in LaVell Edwards. I know him best by the MANY great men he helped to shape. What a proud legacy.— Sean O'Connell (@realOCsports) December 29, 2016
RIP to a football legend. LaVell Edwards has never gotten enough credit for his impact on football. https://t.co/4fUJHJw70h— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 29, 2016