What keeps you motivated? The challenge of putting all the elements of a team together and seeing how you do and what you become is the thing that I still enjoy. I also enjoy the associations and relationships with the players and other coaches - to be in the arena, so to speak. I still enjoy that. I'm also at the point, though, that if we're not doing well - it's tough enough as it is - that I'm not going to be hanging on just to be hanging on. Because it's not anything I need from an ego standpoint or anything else. I just thoroughly enjoy what I'm doing.
Reminiscing No one knows ... until you live it, to be there, to tee it up each week, to get yourself ready, the players and whatever else.... I think its a very, very difficult, tough and demanding job. And to be able to, particularly, stay at the level of expertise that we have over the years. Along with the fact that we have made football a presence at BYU. I think those are the things that are about as satisfying as anything that has happened. Then, of course, the players.... I think the thing that will be the most difficult is leaving the relationships and the involvement.
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Milestones you'd like to reach before retiring? Not really. Because when I began it was never to reach 100 games or reach 200 or to get high on the all-time list or whatever else. Those things are by-products. I want to win another championship, beginning with the conference championship. The thing that was disappointing to me last year was the fact that we did not win the conference championship. I felt like we just let that game (against Air Force in Las Vegas) get away from us.
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Looking at the championship-winning quarterbacks, Edwards remembered their particular talents: Jim McMahon: A great natural leader. Great ability. Great presence. For a guy who was supposed to be blind in one eye, he had as much vision as anyone I've ever seen. He'd know instinctively where he should turn and where he should throw the ball. He was never a problem on the field. He was kind of cocky, but that didn't bother me. He had such a quick delivery and such a natural ability. I told Chicago he'd win them a Super Bowl.
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Potential does not always ensure success. The greatest players have not always been the most endowed. In athletics, we often hear the phrase, "He has the will to win". I think this is wrong. We can have the greatest will to do well. But unless we have prepared, it is of little use. Really, it should be the "will to prepare". Those who succeed have this will, whether it be in athletics, whether it be in school, whether it be in their chosen vocation, whether it be on a mission, or in almost any other phase of their life.
Looking at the championship-winning quarterbacks, Edwards remembered their particular talents: Steve Young: Here's a guy that is really a talent. He's the best athlete we ever had. He could run, he developed into a good thrower. He's smart. He's intense. He could make it in the movies. Really, he's got it all. He was coachable, but he had his own ideas. He never let up, not even in practice. I'd take Steve Young every year.
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Looking at the championship-winning quarterbacks, Edwards remembered their particular talents: Gary Sheide: The image of Joe Namath. He even had Joe's number. Had just a great feel and touch for the game. A great athlete who could play all the sports. He was more of a streak guy than any of them. He could miss two or three passes and then get hot and hit ten straight. He was the one who got it all started.
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In my career I have had many wonderful things happen to me, many more than I ever dreamed would ever happen. But I would like for you young brethren especially to know that all that has happened to me in my chosen profession is a mere drop in the bucket compared to the truly important things in my life. The testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ that I have, along with my wife and my family, are my most important possessions.
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Edwards recalled that he once planned to coach until he was 60 as he signed an extension to his contract. I was about 62 before I ever remembered that's what I had set up. . . . Now I'm already making plans for next year and recruiting. That's the reason for this. I just feel good right now.
Commenting on playoffs to determine a national champion: I'm not in favor of 15 games either. I think that's way too much football. The thing that I feel good about is that these guys hung together through 15 games and played hard every week. That's a marvelous tribute to the kids. We just hung in there today and kept playing. It's just been a special feeling all year long.
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Considering retirement? When that happens, I don't want that to be the story of whatever the season it is. I don't want to have to be talking about it all the time. My plan is when the time is up, it'll be time to hang it up. When that comes, it'll come. But right now, I don't have any clue as to when that'll be. It's been that way the last couple of years. . . . I've often felt if I ever get to a point where I don't want to go recruiting and can't get excited about it, then maybe it's time. That's a pretty good indication that's probably it. And I haven't reached that point at all yet.
Current condition of the BYU football program? I think it's in good shape. We've got some good young players. We've had two or three pretty good recruiting years. We lost some players, obviously, that hurt us, but you always have turnover in college through attrition (graduation, transfers). That's the nature of the game.
We have reached the point where we can lose a game or two and not drop out of sight in the rankings. I've been asked if it bothers me that BYU hasn't received the recognition it deserves. Well, BYU's gotten a lot of recognition over the years; I've never felt slighted. I honestly believed that we didn't deserve to be ranked any higher last year.
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The ability we have to handle this adversity will determine the degree of success that we will have in life. To me, this is where the gospel can be the greatest of help to us. The power of the Holy Ghost is the greatest source of strength and comfort we can have in our lives. The Holy Ghost will not only help us in times of need, but will help us to gain a firm testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, thereby preparing us for life.
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When we have adversity we oftentimes tend to look around and think that we're the Lone Ranger. We tend to believe that we're the only one who has problems. And we always look around and see others who are more talented, taller, smarter, handsomer, or faster. I can assure you, everyone has problems-even football coaches. The ability we have to handle this adversity will determine the degree of success that we will have in life.
After announcing that the 2000 season would be his last before retirement: Last winter I made the decision to coach for only one more season. I have been wrestling with the timing of announcing that decision. After seeing the outstanding attitude and work ethic of this team, I came to the conclusion that it's best to get the announcement out of the way now so we can focus on the season and avoid the repeated distractions that come from questions about my retirement.
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We tend to look at successful athletes and make them almost bigger than life. I have seen many young men who have achieved greatness. I have also seen those who have come up a little short of their potential. I do know that those who succeed have been able to recognize within themselves the potential to do something well and then work hard to prepare themselves for that eventual opportunity. Others wait for the opportunity to come and then start to work, thus coming up a little short.
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I could sum it up in one thing: A guy has to be what he is. He's got to coach and have a philosophy based on his own personality. You see too many coaches trying to imitate other coaches, trying to be someone else. It's all right to emulate the qualities of good coaches but I don't think you should imitate. You've got to be yourself.
Commenting on the decisions of the Bowl Alliance regarding WAC teams: It's a step, no question. Obviously, it's not what any of us wanted, but it's at least a step. We can now say we're part of the Alliance. However, I hope it's not perceived that they bought us off and we're going to go away. It's not fair. It's not right; we still need to fight. We can't let them go away and hide. Other schools are taking a major share of the pot, and that's still a major sore point as far as I'm concerned. But at least this is a step, and better than what we had in the past.
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BYU takes on defending national champion Florida State in the Pigskin Classic in Jacksonville, Fla., eight days after announcing that the 2000 season would be his last before retirement: I do know this, that I'm finally a little bit more relieved than I've been for some time. Patti (his wife) and I have talked about it a lot and came to that conclusion (to retire). I had a feeling of serenity, if you will. In fact, I was feeling so serene that I put in a film of Florida State, and that got me out of that mood in a hurry.
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After attending a banquet honoring the 1974 BYU team that won the Western AthleticConference and went to the Fiesta Bowl. It was the first of Edwards' 18 WAC champions and 21 bowl teams. That was the group of kids that totally changed the direction of my life and the direction of our football program. We started 0-3-1 and won seven or eight in a row. They were the first bowl team in school history. I hadn't really accomplished anything yet. To see all those guys reminded me where we've been. It was an emotional night.
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My sons served excellent missions, and returned to participate in college athletics. In their letters home, and even now that they have been back for some time, they frequently mention that the experiences in the mission field were the choicest and most gratifying of their lives. You young men, begin to prepare yourselves now for this marvelous experience.
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