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Ron McBride fondly recalls his special friendship with LaVell Edwards

SALT LAKE CITY — Ron McBride remembers the first time he met LaVell Edwards back in 1977 when McBride had first come to Utah as an assistant coach to Wayne Howard. He was at a weightlifting clinic when Edwards introduced himself to the new U. line coach.

“Here’s this legend guy, who’s ruling the state and he came up and shook hands,” recalls McBride. “There was nothing arrogant or cocky about him, he was just who he was. He was so easy to talk to.”

That continued over the years as Edwards and McBride forged a special relationship that seemed unusual to many because of the fierce rivalry between the schools they coached. The friendship grew even stronger after the two retired.

When asked Thursday if Edwards was one of his best friends, McBride said, “Absolutely.” In fact, McBride said he was planning to go visit Edwards Thursday afternoon, but received word in the morning that he had passed away.

“You just hoped this day would never come,” said McBride. “I’ll miss seeing him, I’ll miss talking to him, I’ll miss doing stuff with him.”

The pair usually talked on a weekly basis and for the past several years got together every week during the football season for a radio show on AM-1280, where they would laugh and tell stories and even talk about football sometimes.

“He was a lot more than a football coach,” said McBride. “He was a dear friend and our relationship even got better after he retired and I retired. I can tell you every time we got together, I looked forward to it because it was always fun.”

McBride and Edwards used to rib each other at the weekly college football luncheons back in the 1990s and would play in the National Kidney Foundation golf tournament every summer with the loser singing the other's school song.

The 77-year-old McBride appreciated the fact that Edwards never took himself too seriously and was even willing to do bank commercials with McBride, having fun with BYU's consecutive 34-31 defeats to Utah in 1993 and 1994.

“That was painful for him, those 34-31 commercials. He had been kicking our butts for a thousand years and here I come in and beat him 34-31,” said McBride. “The first time we beat them down there, you’d think the world had come to an end. But he was so gracious afterwards.”

McBride recalls playing golf at Riverside Country Club in Provo with Edwards, who told him to use his club number for his lunch.

“He said go ahead, charge the food on me. So I go in and say 'charge it on 3431' and the food guy was so upset, he didn’t think that was funny.” But McBride recalls Edwards just laughed and said, “I’ll never live that down.”

McBride said his only regret is that he wishes the two could have done one more show together because their final one in November was canceled.

Asked what he’d say to Edwards, McBride said, “You’ve done so many things for so many people. You’ve represented the LDS religion the way it’s supposed to be represented. You’ve represented the university the way it’s supposed to be represented. You’ve represented the football program the way it was supposed to be represented. And you’ve done everything with class.”