Is it time for a LaVell Edwards statue?


lavell-vertThat Alabama’s Paul “Bear” Bryant has a 9-foot, 2,000 pound statue outside Bryant–Denny Stadium is not surprising. The man did win six national championships after all.

Florida State’s Bobby Bowden, Michigan’s Bo Schembechler, Ohio State’s Woody Hayes, Notre Dame’s Lou Holtz and Nebraska’s Tom Osborne are all also immortalized in cast bronze.

Is former BYU head coach LaVell Edwards not part of this fraternity?

Admittedly, 15 years ago Cougar Stadium was renamed LaVell Edwards Stadium, and perhaps this honor is enough for the humble former ball coach.

However, Edwards is the sixth most-winning coach in division 1 college football history and won BYU’s only football national championship. No other name name associated with BYU athletics carries the amount of respect and dignity as Edwards.

LaVell deserves his own statue.

In house talent

To make the task even more feasible, one of the most celebrated sports sculptors of our time, Blair Buswell, lives in Utah Valley and is a former player on LaVell’s 1981 team.

Buswell is best known as the person who creates many of the Pro Football Hall of Fame busts (68 busts since 1983), but he’s also created life-like sculptures of athletes and coaches like Jack Nicklaus, John Wooden, Oscar Robertson, Doak Walker and Paul “Bear” Bryant.

Buswell was honored in 1990 as the Sport Artist of the Year by the United States Sports Academy; the first sculptor ever to be so honored.

Utah-based sculptor Blair Buswell.

Utah-based sculptor Blair Buswell.

So, when someone like Buswell says a sculpture of Edwards is needed and he’s willing to lend his talents to the job, it makes the task just that much more attainable.

“He’s kind of an icon nationally. He is the icon of BYU football,” Buswell said. “He’s the coach that put us on the map.”

According to Buswell, the process of approving, funding and installing a statue is long and arduous, but is necessary and worth it.

Buswell said he’s communicated directly with former teammate and BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe about the project. Although his proposals haven’t yet been accepted, Buswell is hopeful it will happen.

“We’ve talked as past players at different reunions,” Buswell said. “All the former players said they would make a special trip to be a part of the unveiling of a LaVell Edwards statue. It will all be about coach and what he’s done for this program. Hopefully, I’ll be able to contribute.”

Of course this is all hypothetical, but Buswell said with his years of experience and dedication, it would be wonderful to work with Edwards on a statue featuring his iconic scowl and crossed arms.

“I have a lot to pay back to BYU and I think we need to honor the guy that put BYU on the map,” Buswell said. “Is it time? Yes. I hope so. Does it need to be done? Yes. Would it be a good thing? Yes.”

30th anniversary

This year, 2014, marks the 30th anniversary of the national championship Cougars, led by Coach Edwards.

It would have been a good year to unveil a statue of Provo’s favorite coach. But, because of the lengthy approval process, it’s unlikely to happen in the near future.

BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said any proposals for statues on campus must first go through the campus planning committee. This committee then reviews the proposal and if accepted, it goes to the President’s Council. Should it be approved by this council, it then goes to the board of trustees for a final approval.

To illustrate the thoughtful intensity with which these committees and councils review proposals, the last statue erected on campus was the statue of Joseph Smith in the Joseph Smith Building courtyard in 1997.

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One Response to "Is it time for a LaVell Edwards statue?"

  1. David Parker says:

    I know this is now nine months after your article, but I wanted to point out that way back in 1993, when LaVell was approaching his 200th win, I was commissioned by Val Hale (the Assistant Athletic Director at the time) to create a bust of LaVell, without his knowledge! At the time, I had a business where I could do 3D scans of a persons head and shoulders. From this 3D data I could then send it to a 3D carving machine, which would generate a hard foam model. I then employed a sculptor to cover it in clay and add the final details. The resulting clay model was sent to a foundry and a bronze bust was made. It is a very accurate replication, and is life-size.

    A copy should still be on display in the BYU athletic building.

    I just thought you would appreciate knowing this.

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