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'Better husbands, better fathers, better men.' National media look back on LaVell Edwards' legacy

The legacy of LaVell Edwards, the BYU coach who passed away on Thursday, extends beyond just the Beehive State and its college football culture.

Edwards' death became the No. 1 trending item on Twitter (however briefly) in the United States on Thursday. National media organizations and sports reporters have since been commenting on the coach’s legacy.

ESPN analyst Steve Young, the former NFL quarterback who played under Edwards at BYU, was one of the first to speak openly about his former coach’s death. He told ESPN that Edwards’ talents as a coach were “a gift from heaven.”

"It's a tough time for all of us," Young said Thursday, according to ESPN. "The No. 1 quality that coach had was a gift — I'm going to say it was from heaven — that he had the ability to look at you and get a sense of you and be able to have a vision for your future. To see things that you didn't see, to see potential in you that you didn't know about. … It was personal to you. He had the ability to see around the corner and it was individual. Football is the ultimate people sport, and you have to have people skills, and he had the ultimate people skills. It was a gift."

Similarly, former BYU offensive lineman Trevor Matich said on ESPN that Edwards made his players "better husbands, better fathers, better men."

Meanwhile, Matt Brown, a writer for Sports On Earth, wrote that Edwards heralded a “revolution” at BYU, bringing a pass-first offense. Brown wrote that Edwards “leaves a legacy as one of the most successful and innovative coaches in college football history.”

This is because Edwards coached at a time when pass-heavy, wide-open offenses weren’t commonplace. He brought those into mainstream college football culture, however, paving the way for modern styles of play, according to Brown.

"That was the birth of western football right there," Fisher DeBerry, an Air Force coach who competed against Edwards, told ESPN. "Every region of the country sort of had its identity football-wise except for the teams in the mountains. LaVell set a tone of, we're going to move the football and score points and make you keep up. That became the identity for our part of the football world. We weren't all throwing it, but we were all sure flying around the field. We kept the scoreboard operators busy."

And since Edwards was so successful at BYU — bringing the school a national championship and turning it from a “national curiosity to national power,” according to Brown — it’s no surprise he became the namesake of BYU’s stadium.

“Widely respected on and off the field, Edwards checked just about every box to be recognized as a college football legend, achieving consistently high levels of success at BYU while pushing football toward the quarterback-first, passing-centric sport we know now," Brown wrote. "Edwards' influence should never be forgotten.”

But ESPN’s Ryan McGee focused on a lesser-known and more personal story of Edwards’ life — his mission call at the age of 72. When he retired in 2000, Edwards and his wife, Patti, got the call for a public affairs assignment in New York.

Edwards didn’t plan to have his mission be anything about football. But one of his assignments included teaching young players about the game.

"Next thing you know, there I am back on the sideline, in the middle of Harlem, coaching football again. I loved it,” Edwards said, according to ESPN. “I loved teaching the game to kids and using football to teach them how to be better people. I loved getting those kids in touch with other football people to help them keep growing even after I left. We built something from nothing. That's always the best part of the job."

The work he did on his mission also aligned with something Edwards did his whole life — give hope to the underdogs.

Before he took his position at BYU, the school wasn’t successful in football. He brought it to them.

“He made it possible for teams with lesser ability like B.Y.U. to compete for a championship on all levels,” said Gil Brandt, a former player personnel director of the Dallas Cowboys, according to The New York Times.

Former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said that Edwards brought hope to every underdog out there.

"If you work hard and you do it the right way, then one day the dream comes true,” he told ESPN. “That's what I learned from LaVell Edwards and I can't even imagine how many other people out there who knew him or just admired him all learned that same lesson."