A PSA for college football fans: Make sure to tune in for Mac and LaVell

Aug 18 2012 - 5:23pm

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There are stories that simply cannot be told.

Not because they're too long, or too shocking or even a bit too racy for this, an alleged family publication.

I mean, yeah, I've got a few stories like that, too. But for our purposes today, I'm referring to stories that, journalistically speaking, are for deep, background purposes only.

In other words, they're only told late at night, after deadline or for comic effect at certain informal gatherings.

I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of said stories involving coaches Ron McBride and LaVell Edwards. It's all right though, because it turns out the two of them will, for the next 14 weeks at least, have their own show on all-sports talk radio station KZNS AM-1280 (The Zone).

Look, I frankly don't care which radio station you listen to. Listen to all of them for all I care; or don't listen to any. Either way, it makes no difference to me personally. However, as a public service announcement for this state's college football fans, I'd say it might be worth tuning in at least once to "Football Fridays" before the end of the season.

Having covered BYU, Utah and Weber State football here at the Standard-Examiner for the better part of two decades, I've had the privilege of getting to know both men.

On Friday, as the two walked into the press room at the Zions Bank Basketball Center, I couldn't help but smile at such an odd couple. I suppose that's one reason they work so well together.

Mac walked in first, wearing a station-issued golf shirt, which I'm sure they'd just given him. It was untucked, hanging over the waist of a pair of run-of-the-mill, no-iron khaki pants.

LaVell followed and, sure enough, his shirt was neatly tucked inside a pair of natty golf slacks.

For those old enough to remember the television sitcom "The Odd Couple," the moment dripped Oscar Madison and Felix Ungar. My goodness, it was brilliantly unscripted and unmistakably apropos.

At one point, LaVell referred to Mac as a perfect "straight man," a sort of comic foil to his act. That alone was quite funny considering McBride's style is far more loud and bawdy than Edwards' dry, deadpan shtick.

Either way, these two coaching legends -- one a Ute the other a Cougar -- have an excellent rapport, even though they're both remarkably competitive.

On Friday, they traded barbs as they often do when the bright lights come on, the cameras start rolling and the microphones go live. Each is well aware of how he plays off the other and each seems to know his role.

Their timing was still highly entertaining and yet in serious moments each was thoughtful and insightful.

They spoke of their friendship, which, it's fair to say, took time to develop over the years.

They spoke of late Penn State coach Joe Paterno and the sexual abuse scandal that rocked State College, Pa. Each was rightfully disgusted by the abuse that occurred and yet saddened at the way Paterno's legacy has been tarnished.

They spoke of the Utah-BYU rivalry and how it ought to be played each year, whether the first game of the season or the last. Neither could fathom why the rivalry would take a hiatus.

They spoke of the intensity of the rivalry, both among the coaches, the players and the fans. Personally, I think it's gotten out of hand in recent years but the two coaches implied it's always been so, especially after McBride's Utes started winning games in the mid 1990s.

They spoke of Utah joining the Pac-12, BYU going independent and the ever-changing nature of college football. They spoke of the new breed of coaches who are far more buttoned-up and perhaps a bit more stodgy -- but not necessarily more serious -- than the old breed.

After saying he had nothing to say about it, Mac spoke candidly about coach John L. Smith's sudden resignation as Weber State's head coach. LaVell also spoke with pride at the way his old friend not only changed the culture of Utah's program, but WSU's as well.

There's simply not enough room in today's newspaper to cover in detail all the topics these two titans touched upon. Perhaps we'll try again another time.

But for now, college football fans, just know our own version of the odd couple will soon appear on a radio near you. And remember, some stories simply cannot be told.

Jim Burton is the Standard-Examiner's sports columnist. He also covers the Utah Jazz and the NBA. He can be reached at 801-625-4265 or at jburton@standard.net. He tweets at http://twitter.com/jmb247

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