In was August of 1996, and I got the opportunity to be the BYU football beat writer for the Standard-Examiner newspaper in Ogden.
I decided to do a feature story on the Cougars' outstanding offensive line as they prepared for their season-opener in the Pigskin Classic against Texas A&M. So I showed up at practice one warm late-August day, hoping to talk to several players as well as coach Edwards.
He was watching the team's practice from the seat of a golf cart and, as I approached him, he told me to take the seat next to him so we could chat. I had met him many years before that and had interviewed him several times in group settings, but never one-on-one.
And I admit that, even though I'd already been in the newspaper biz for more than 20 years, sitting down for a one-on-one interview with a living legend like LaVell was a bit intimidating.
But coach Edwards, perhaps sensing my nervousness, was such a kind, congenial, down-to-earth and accommodating gentleman that he quickly put my nerves at ease that day. I'd heard many stories over the years about what a great guy he was, and from that day forward, as we repeatedly interacted through that glory-filled, 14-1 season that ended with a Cotton Bowl victory over Kansas State, he showed me first-hand, time after time, that all those wonderful words I'd heard about him were absolutely true.
After that, it was pretty darned difficult for me not to be a fan of LaVell Edwards, not just as a terrific football coach but, more importantly, as a tremendous, warm and genuine person who truly cared about people and always seemed to do his best to treat them with kindness and respect.
As coaches go, it seems, they just don't make ’em like LaVell any more.