By Noah Bond
The BYU football program continues a legacy rich in competition.
“BYU football has influenced me a lot because my grandfather at one time was a coach here in the early 50”s,” said Gary Crowton, BYU head football coach. “I have followed them since I was a kid.”
To understand the full history of BYU football one would have to look back to its” beginnings in the 1890”s.
According to the BYU sport archive, Brigham Young Academy played its first game in 1896.
Games were played at Pioneer Park, but because the early rules of the game often left players injured, this team only lasted three years.
When a player was killed, Karl G. Maeser responded by leading a school board meeting to ban football.
As a result, the Brigham Academy football team was discontinued in 1900.
According to the BYU sport archives, the school petitioned the Board of Trustees to reinstate football in 1919.
Students rejoiced when the request was granted.
Games were played where the Joseph Smith building now stands.
The stadium provided seating for a few hundred spectators.
A new stadium was built in 1928. It stood where the Richards Building now stands.
This stadium could originally seat 5,000 people. It was later expanded.
Teams struggled to win, but fans still went until one season when the attendance averaged 22,000. The expanded stadium could only seat 10,000.
Overcrowding at games prompted plans to build the Cougar Stadium.
It was completed in 1964 with only east and west bleachers, said Jeff Reynolds, the media relations director for the BYU football team.
The team continued to struggle, until Edwards came to the rescue in 1974.
At the first game of his coaching career, Edwards had a lot on his mind. “It was a combination of nervousness. We were still trying to find our way and an identity, BYU football did not have a lot of success,” Edwards said.
Before Edwards, BYU had produced 47 football teams with only 16 winning seasons.
Interest had dropped in football and so did the fans at the stadium. “When the deer hunt would come around Lavell tells the story that he would look up into the stands and all he would see is women and children,” Reynolds said.
At the end of his career LaVell”s successes included a string of all American quarterbacks, a Heisman Trophy winner, two Outland Trophy winners, two National Coach of the Year Honors and a National Title, said Reynolds.
Today, BYU”s football legacy continues with coach Crowton.