This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Occasionally, between Ron McBride's tales about trying to weigh his overgrown Labrador and LaVell Edwards asking how to categorize mobile phones, they do talk about football.
With his former coaching rival in the middle of yet another story during last Friday's episode, Edwards interjected, "By the way, this is a sports show, in case you're wondering."
The weekly radio program that brings together the two longtime friends is marketed as the "Legends," meant as a tribute to their coaching careers. The title more accurately describes their storytelling style, as they playfully jab one another, exaggerate events and generally revise history.
The result is an all-over-the-map conversation that undoubtedly leaves listeners entertained, informed, amused and frustrated, to varying degrees. By now, during Season 3 on 97.5 FM/1280 The Zone, co-host Scott Garrard has stopped trying to script the program, instead merely suggesting a subject or two and letting the coaches McBride, mostly, with Edwards as the sidekick ramble for two hours.
Yet the story is not about the show, necessarily. This is more about how Edwards and McBride somehow developed lasting respect and friendship while battling for 11 seasons in the BYU-Utah rivalry, and how the relationship continues.
They do get paid for showing up at remote broadcast locations such as auto dealerships on Fridays for 14 weeks during the football season, but they also enjoy it. Can you imagine Kyle Whittingham and Bronco Mendenhall doing something like this, 10 or 20 years from now? Don't be silly. And they don't even have reasons to hold a grudge as McBride could cite, if he wanted to do so.
"It took awhile to get so we could, I don't know if trust is the right word … but he's a guy that I just really liked, even when we were competing against him," said Edwards, 84.
So here they are 14 years after Edwards retired from BYU, 20 years after the two of them teamed in the famous "34-31" bank commercials that commemorated Utah's breakthrough victory and 37 years after McBride's initial, bitter experience in the rivalry. They're just Mac and LaVell, getting together and discussing football, mostly.
"We just talk abut anything," said McBride, 75. "There used to be a script, but now there's no script. It's just whatever comes up."
That even includes 1977, the year that might have short-circuited this relationship, before it started.
During last week's show, Edwards casually mentioned a trend of high-scoring games in college football. That was all the opening McBride needed to respond, "That's what you used to do."
And then it was on, all in fun. McBride launched into the story of Edwards' reinserting quarterback Marc Wilson (after freshman backup Jim McMahon had replaced him) into that '77 game in Provo, with McBride as the Utes' offensive line coach. Wilson was allowed to throw another pass to break an NCAA single-game yardage record, which happened to come via an 8-yard toss to John VanDerWouden in the end zone to complete a 38-8 rout.
"Hey, that was brutal," McBride said in his perpetually impish style, proceeding to imitate former BYU broadcaster Paul James, describing the historic event.
Edwards then delivered his version of an innocent, short pass turning into a long touchdown, after Utah's defenders initially, four of them, then eight missed the tackle. "It's becoming more clear in my mind now, what really happened," Edwards said, in his usual, wry manner.
All these years later, Wilson's record of 571 yards has been exceeded many times, most recently by Washington State's Connor Halliday (734).
That's another reminder of how numbers are fleeting, but memories last forever. McBride never forgot what happened that day in Provo, and it drove him when he returned to Utah as head coach. But forgiving? That's easy for Mac, and that's why the friendship flourished.
McBride and Edwards are state treasures, because of their coaching achievements. Their relationship makes me admire them even more.
Edwards will always respect how McBride rebuilt Utah's program, in the process restoring a genuine, competitive rivalry. And I can only wish their example of loving their own schools while at least tolerating the other guys and even acknowledging their success would take hold throughout the state.
Meanwhile, they won't stop talking. Last Friday, Edwards was in mid-sentence after the host signed off and the station cut away to a commercial, making for one of those awkward radio moments. But who cared? The friendship of Mac and LaVell will just keep going, long after the show ends.
Reinvigorating the rivalry
BYU's LaVell Edwards and Utah's Ron McBride are both credited with profoundly influencing the competitive nature of the schools' football rivalry. BYU's record vs. Utah was 5-37-4 before Edwards took over in 1972; Utah went 2-16 in the 18 years before McBride's era began in 1990. Here's how each of them performed against other coaches in the rivalry:
Edwards • 2-0 vs. Bill Meek, 3-0 vs. Tom Lovat, 4-1 vs. Wayne Howard, 3-0 vs. Chuck Stobart, 4-1 vs. Jim Fassel, 6-5 vs. McBride. Total: 22-7.
McBride • 5-6 vs. Edwards, 1-1 vs. Gary Crowton. Total: 6-7.