Tom Smart, Deseret News
PROVO — Ed Eyestone is like a man standing up in a speedboat. He doesn’t want to do anything to impede the momentum, he doesn’t want to rock things or fall overboard, but he believes he can increase the horsepower and make every molecule of fuel count.
That’s the mindset of BYU’s newly appointed head track coach, who will take the men’s and women’s program under one umbrella starting the day after this week’s NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore.
Eyestone is a master at putting mass to motion for maximum velocity. Ever since he ran his way out of Bonneville High, earned All-American citations at BYU and became a decorated Olympian, he’s done just that. In his office, the wall is plastered with competitor tags, numbers pinned to his running clothing, a litany of race experience, a dash to the tape.
This is why Eyestone’s appointment is respected. Even as tensions and stress levels were high in BYU’s men’s and women’s track office over these changes since the announcement last week, you’d be challenged to find anyone who didn’t think Eyestone’s promotion was not a worthy individual professional decision.
“He’ll do a great job,” said women’s coach Patrick Shane.
“Ed is a great choice,” adds Willard Hirschi, retired head men’s coach.
That BYU shook up its track and field program on the eve of a national championship was even a little surprising for Eyestone. But once it was explained it would give coaches on staff not retained a chance to look for other opportunities, he understood.
“My main focus is the student-athletes,” said Eyestone. “They come with great expectations and they come to BYU hoping to reach their potential. As a coach, as they come to the end of their run in five years, or six or seven if a mission is involved, it is my job to make sure they can say they were glad they came here.”
For any coaches retained, hired or recruited after this week, he has three requirements: “Coaching, coaching, coaching.”
Eyestone inherits two programs that have dominated the Mountain West and Western Athletic conferences through the past four decades and are a respected brand at NCAA championships. That supremacy over regional foes included the ascension of a myriad of All-American national champions and Olympians.
“BYU has an amazing tradition in track and field. The administration has decided to bring the men and women together. As we combine it, bring it together, I think we can continue to have a solid program and history, but I think we can do better. It’s time to take it to the next level.”
Eyestone’s game plan includes an injection of passion, enthusiasm and chemistry. Track and field, he explains, is a unique sport that is kind of like a three-ring circus where you have a runner side, a power side and a jump side, often their own entities. He seeks to bring all under a single team culture in what he says will be “empowered, excited and directed” to possess a “swagger” when athletes step on the track. “I’ve seen that happen in my group, and there needs to be a culture among coaches that are enthused and can bring that to their groups and to the entire team, to come together, be tighter and do it better than we’ve done in the past.”
Improvements, says Eyestone, will come across the board. He will begin a scholarship audit to determine where resources can be used best in recruiting. Track and field, unlike football and basketball, can use partial scholarships for athletes and spread around benefits with recruits.
“I’m not a micro-manager,” he said. “I’m perfectly happy to coach distance runners and let others do their jobs.”
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