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Longtime Pals Share a Final Laugh

November 21, 2000

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ Utah coach Ron McBride lit up Tuesday when his old pal, BYU’s LaVell Edwards, strolled into the luncheon where the two have shared weekly laughs every autumn for years.

The coaches face off for the final time Friday when Utah (4-6, 3-3 Mountain West) plays the visiting Cougars (5-6, 3-3) in the final game of Edwards’ 29-year career.

McBride brought some going-away gifts for his retiring buddy. With a broad smile, he leaped from his seat, wrapped Edwards in a bear hug and doled out the presents.

``Just to make sure he doesn’t forget about the Utes,″ McBride explained as he held up a red Utah helmet.

It was signed in black ink by McBride: ``LaVell, thanks for all you’ve done for college football. Mac. Enjoy.″

Then, McBride held up a red and white Utah windbreaker and draped it over Edwards as the two laughed in front of television cameras. McBride did the same thing with a red-lettered, gray Utah sweat shirt.

Just when it seemed McBride had pulled a fast one on his buddy, Edwards had a quick comeback.

``No wonder he’s so dressed up today,″ Edwards said. ``He gave me the only things he owns.″

The kinship shared by the two coaches is a vivid contrast to the sometimes acrimonious relationship by fans of each school. The game, in its 76th year, is billed as ``The Holy War.″

The state’s two largest universities are separated by about 55 miles. BYU is run by the Mormon church while Utah is a state-funded research institution.

You’d never know about the rivalry by watching Edwards and McBride together. Each week, they joke about each other’s clothes, hair, cars, just about anything that comes up.

Several years ago, the two filmed a series of well-received TV commercials for a Salt Lake City bank. They’ve also been known to spend time together, along with their wives, during the offseason.

``For what he’s done for college football, what he’s done for Brigham Young University and for the standards he represents, I’m going to miss him,″ said McBride, choking up.

Edwards got another gift from a group of sports writers, a globe that poked fun at his tendency to begin post-victory news conferences by saying, ``Obviously, I’m pleased.″

The inscription read: ``Obviously, we’re pleased. You put college football on the map in Utah.″

Southern Utah coach C. Ray Gregory couldn’t resist adding his voice to the tributes.

``We’re going to miss coach Edwards,″ he said. ``He’s got such a great sense of humor and he’s such a classy guy. For a young guy like me, it’s been such a great opportunity to talk to him every week.″

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