On the other hand, assuming BYU finishes the regular season undefeated and untied, its lofty national ranking should enable the Holiday Bowl to attract a highly ranked opponent for the Cougars. So who knows? If BYU soundly beat a Top 15 team in the bowl...and Washington gets beat...and Nebraska....
However BYU fares in the polls, the lion's share of the credit for its success must go to Edwards. He knows BYU isn't going to get many 6'4" behemoths able to bench-press a horse and lead the Cougars to nirvana via the run and intimidation route. "I don't put any stock in blue-chip recruits anyway," says Edwards. "There are so many players out there who can play if given the opportunity." His first blue-chipper at BYU is tight end Trevor Molini, a freshman from Sparks, Nev., a non-Mormon who was recruited hard by all the biggies.
What Edwards did to compensate for the Cougars' congenital weaknesses was make an all-out commitment to passing. At least 80% of BYU's practices are devoted to it. After every pass play in practice, the quarterback must tell a coach why he threw where he did. That a receiver was open is not reason enough; the quarterback must explain what defense he reads before the snap. "I just don't think that the forward pass is a high-risk offense," says Edwards. "The wishbone is a high-risk offense."
What Edwards has done is fly in the face of the conventional wisdom, which says you must run to set obviously just one BYU scoring drive on Saturday: 70 yards in two plays, both runs. What do you think UTEP was expecting?
Mostly, BYU has things in perpective. Nobody is screaming "No. 1," and everybody is getting ready for church on Sunday, which isn't surprising when you listen to the coach. "Football is not the most important thing in the world," says Edwards. "And it's certainly not the most important thing in my life."
Fair enough. But make no mistake that whatever football is at BYU and wherever it falls in priorities, the Cougars are good. And the time just might come when BYU will be No. 1, and Cougar fans will be drinking soda pop (caffeine-free) in celebration.