Duane Busby carried a lot of influence in BYU's football program
“He was wired a little bit differently than most, especially in the Mormon culture,” Stevenson said. “He really got his self-worth and his value by two things — BYU football and helping guys. He loved being that mentor and big brother. He took (former quarterback) Kevin Feterik, a non-LDS kid that had his fair share of struggles with the culture and the team, and he made it his personal mission to help Kevin on and off the field. Duane helped Kevin and others with the honor code and made improvements in their lives. I really respected how Duane reached out to the non-LDS kids and (helped them) adjust to the lifestyle and live the honor code more fully.”
Prior to arriving at BYU in 1996, Busby was the equipment manager and video coordinator for the Ricks College football team for five years. He also taught at Madison High in Rexburg, Idaho, where he was an assistant coach for the football and basketball teams.
Busby, who graduated from Arizona State with a degree in English in 1984, also served as an assistant to then Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and was the managing editor of The Wickenburg Sun.
Not long after joining the BYU staff in 1996, Busby created a highlight video for a Friday night team get-together on the eve of the season-opening Pigskin Classic against nationally ranked Texas A&M. Busby showed clips of past games and arranged for Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer, who was playing in the NFL at the time, to share some inspiring words to the Cougars. After BYU upset Texas A&M, some players gave some credit to Busby for firing them up. The Cougars ended that season with a 14-1 record, a Cotton Bowl victory and a No. 5 national ranking.
Years later, after Edwards retired, Busby took care of the Edwards’ home in Provo while they were serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in New York City. Stevenson remembers Busby helping players with talks they would give in church meetings. Many of the former players that would return to BYU to visit would spend time with Busby and talk to him while they watched practice. Busby built a reputation for being cordial and professional with everyone he encountered, including reporters and players.
Now, after everything that’s come out publicly about Busby the last couple of days, Stevenson is concerned for his friend.
“When you have the only things that you value most in life taken away — probably because he was too generous and he operated in the gray areas that are the NCAA rules and guidelines. I worry about him," Stevenson said. "I don’t know of anyone that’s been able to get ahold of him.
“I worry that the media has taken a lot of this and run with it. Duane’s going to be the fall guy,” Stevenson continued. “Everybody from the top to the bottom knows the man that Duane is and knows that if he were guilty of something, he was guilty of having a big heart and trying to help kids. I hope he doesn’t become the fall guy for the program to save face with the NCAA. Everybody knew that Duane was intimately involved with a good number of players. He was busy from 5 a.m. to midnight with as many guys as he could take under his wing. He would have reached out to anyone. I saw him help the superstars and I saw him help walk-ons that never saw the field. When he helped me my sophomore year, I was not a superstar.”
Stevenson does not believe Busby was forced out of his job as many have speculated.
“I think we’ll find out the opposite,” he said. “He looked into the future and saw he was going to bring some shame to the program. I think it was more than Duane could stomach. I think he probably told (athletic director) Tom Holmoe and Bronco that he was going, and there was nothing they could do to stop him. In his own way, he had this mentality that if he was going to bring some bad to the program, he would have fallen on his own sword and walked away as quietly as possible.”
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