By Stephenson Beck
New football coach Gary Crowton has a lot to live up to.
Never mind the obvious difficulty of following a coaching legend and directing a nationally recognized college football program.
But just considering the other candidates he beat out for the job brings with it large expectations. George Henshaw of the Tennesse Titans has a resume that includes four Super Bowl championships. And he openly admitted wanting the job. There was Lance Reynolds and Ken Schmidt, assistants under LaVell who are deeply engrained in BYU’s system.
Combine this with the rumors that say his friend in the hiring process may have been the real reason he got the job (Crowton grew up and played football at Orem High School with athletic director Val Hale), and you find yourself with a coach who needs to prove himself.
But don’t let all of this speculation lead you astray – Crowton is a good coach.
Crowton led Louisana Tech to a 21-13 record over three seasons and many colleagues also confirm that he is an offensive genius.
But his last coaching scenario wasn’t good to say the least.
His Chicago Bears are 3-10 and have been out of the playoff chase for some time. The really scary part for BYU fans is that Crowton’s offense has not scored a touchdown in six games.
And now he is coming to a football team with an offense that was uncharacteristically inconsistent for most of last season – and that’s being nice.
True, the Chicago Bears are not exactly overflowing with talent. Most games their opponents have had way too many weapons for the Bears to contain.
And Crowton’s offense has been criticized by NFL coaches as being too “razzle-dazzle.”
So, if you have offensive schemes that work in college but do not work in the NFL, then you might as well do what Crowton did – come back to college.
Another difficult challenge he will need to deal with is his coaching staff. He has many coaches who have been part of the LaVell legacy who love Happy Valley and have no plans to leave.
But when an offensive-minded coach comes to a team with a struggling offense, you can be sure that some new faces will be on the sideline come Fall 2001.
But putting all of this behind him, there are two characteristics that Crowton needs to prove he has.
They are characteristics that LaVell made famous: being consistent and being good.
Since 1982 when he was a student assistant under Edwards, Crowton has coached at Snow College, Western Illinois, New Hampshire, Boston College, Georgia Tech, Louisiana Tech and with the Bears.
BYU is accustomed to having a common face on the sideline game after game, year after year. When Crowton was hired, it was intended to be for the long term.
And true, Crowton has had some respectable college successes in his several short college coaching experiences. But he is entering an environment where losing seasons are unheard of and coming from a team where the playoffs are unheard of.
Alas, it will come down to the same thing it always comes down to -wins and losses.
A few losses and a couple of seasons without bowl games, and Crowton can call up Snow College for another shot.
Wins, national rankings and conference championships mean job security and an entourage of loyal Cougar fans.
I wouldn’t mind waiting another 29 years for the next coaching change. And I have a feeling neither would Crowton.