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LaVell Edwards describes friendship with Joe Paterno



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Former longtime BYU football coach LaVell Edwards has been friends with former Penn State football coach for decades, both on and off the gridiron.

The coaches and their wives have even taken multiple trips together over the years. So it comes as no surprise that Edwards was reluctant to talk about what happened at Penn State, saying it has been tough hearing the news.

"For years, he's had a great program, a clean program and he's just done everything the right way," Edwards said of his friend. "It's just unfortunate that circumstances developed that caused this action to be taken."

Edwards, however, did offer a few thoughts about Paterno's firing, talking about how highly he regards Paterno for not only what he has accomplished, but for his high character and the way he ran his program.

"It's a sad period of time right now to see a man with his credential, his character, and all the other elements that go into it, have to leave under such a heavy cloud." Edwards said. "It's just a very sad day for many of us."

"My heart aches for Sue because I know she's devastated," said Patti Edwards. "I know that her strength and her love for her husband and her religion will help her over this hard time in her life, and I just wish her nothing but love."


It's a sad period of time right now to see a man with his credential, his character, and all the other elements that go into it, have to leave under such a heavy cloud.

–LaVell Edwards


Multiple times Edwards brought up the sorrow and sympathy he feels toward the victims and their families.

"Well it's easy to look back on hindsight, but the main thin is you just have such great sorrow and feelings for the children involved there," he said. "(It's) very, very unfortunate and very, very difficult issue."

Edwards continued, saying: "To go back and say what he should have done and shouldn't have, I'm not going to get into that. You always have issues you have to deal with, no question about it. Some you do well with it and some you don't. I think we are all faced with that no matter whether we are coaching or whatever we are doing."

Despite the situation Paterno is involved in, Edwards continued to praise his friend.

"Like I said, I just have great fondness for Joe and Sue because they are great people and I just want to wish them the very best," Edwards said.

But the Penn State child sexual abuse scandal highlights a culture of institutional protection.


It's okay to challenge authority when it's the right thing to do, when a crime is being committed or a child is being endangered.

–Julie Hanks


"Part of why people protect the institution is because, really, they are protecting themselves because they are a part of the institution," said director Julie Hanks of Wasatch Family Therapy. "And if the institution is threatened, they are somehow threatened."

But what the Penn State story should have been about was protecting the most vulnerable among us and failing to report a crime against a child, which is its own crime.

Utah's state law on reporting crimes reads: "Any person, official, or institution required to report a case of suspected abuse, neglect, fetal alcohol syndrome, or fetal drug dependency, who willfully fails to do so is guilty of a class B misdemeanor."

Hanks said reporting a crime can require courage, however.

"It's okay to challenge authority when it's the right thing to do, when a crime is being committed or a child is being endangered," Hanks said.

To hear the extended interview with LaVell Edwards, click HERE.

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Written by Randall Jeppesen and Carole Mikita.

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