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20 Years Ago: BYU’s Cougar Stadium Renamed LaVell Edwards Stadium

Nov 18, 2020, 4:41 PM
LaVell Edwards Stadium - Gordon B. Hinckley...
Patti and LaVell Edwards with President Gordon B. Hinckley on Nov. 18, 2000. (Mark Philbrick, BYU Photo)
(Mark Philbrick, BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – On a cold picturesque day in Provo, Cougar Stadium became LaVell Edwards Stadium, home of the BYU Cougars. The event took place twenty years ago today, November 18th, 2000.

The renaming of iconic Cougar Stadium became official in the pregame before LaVell Edwards’ final home game as BYU’s head coach against Mountain West rival New Mexico.

President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the time, Gordon B. Hinckley, made the renaming official by announcing, “The board of trustees and the administration of the university, in recognition of a remarkable and wonderful man, has determined to name this LaVell Edwards Stadium.”

Edwards was the first person from athletics to be named on a building/venue on BYU’s campus.

President Hinckley also presented Coach Edwards with an autographed football signed by Edwards’ 1984 National Championship ball. A ball that the prophet said he had treasured for many years.

BYU didn’t “muff it” in the first game at LaVell Edwards Stadium

Before the pregame ceremony, President Hinckley addressed the Edwards’ team in the BYU locker room. He famously said, “This is your last chance to get a victory for LaVell on his home field; don’t muff it.”

BYU made sure they didn’t muff it for LaVell’s final home game as they rolled past New Mexico by a score of 37-13.

Along with announcing the football stadium’s renaming, twenty years ago, on this day, BYU’s Board of Trustees approved plans for the Indoor Practice Facility.

Fans that attended the game received towels that read, “House That LaVell Built” and the endzones had “LE” and “29” to pay tribute to Edwards in his final home game.

It was a fitting tribute for a man that defined BYU football and made the passing attack a common practice in the entire sport of football. During his 29 years as head coach, Edwards piled up 257 wins. Which is still good for the 22nd most wins by a coach in college football history.

LaVell Edwards impact on BYU Football today

Edwards passed away in 2016, but his legacy carries on in the BYU football program today. Head Coach Kalani Sitake played for Edwards and was a member of the 2000 team in that final home game 20 years ago. Before Sitake’s team exits the door at LaVell Edwards Stadium, there’s a sign that reads, “Protect LaVell’s House” with Edwards’ picture next to it.

Last year, Sitake invited Edwards’ wife, Patti Edwards to speak to the team about the man that Edwards was and why his name was on the stadium they played in each and every year in the fall.

Since the renaming of LaVell Edwards Stadium, BYU is 90-31 at home. That’s good for a 74 percent winning percentage. This season, BYU is 5-0 with two home games remaining.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m., KSL Newsradio). Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper and the KSL Sports app.

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