BYU athletic director Rondo Fehlberg took the air out of speculation that he ordered LaVell Edwards and his staff to fully restore the program's once-proud pass-oriented offense.
"There's nothing I can tell Coach Edwards about football that he hasn't known for years and years," Fehlberg said after the Cougars' final public scrimmage before the Sept. 5 season opener at Alabama. "So it would be presumptuous in the extreme for me to sit down and pretend to tell him how to coach football."The Cougars do plan to throw more this season, Fehlberg said, but only because it was determined to be in the best interest of the program. The decision was made at Fehlberg's annual post-season evaluation with Edwards and the coaching staff.
Fehlberg said discussions revolved around what to preserve and what to alter after BYU's disappointing 6-5 record last season.
"And one of the things we'd like to change is we'd like to win more games and we'd like to have our fans a lot happier with what they saw on the field," Fehlberg said. "I think we all agreed that if you're going to go 6-5 you should just as well throw the ball - especially in Provo. It's just the way our fans are, the way we learned to love football in this valley.
"The facts are our fans probably would accept a lot of running and very little passing only if we were 9-2," he added.
Edwards, who is entering his 27th season as head coach, maintains that BYU's basic philosophy has never changed. The Cougars ran the ball frequently last season simply because injuries and inexperience prevented them from pass-ing the ball effectively.
This season promises to be different with junior Kevin Feterik and backup Drew Miller each benefiting from a year of experience. BYU, however, isn't looking at 1998 as a make-or-break year to reclaim its passing glory.
Fehlberg said each year presents its own set of challenges. He noted 1995, his first football season as athletic director, when the Cougars went 7-4 and failed to receive a bowl bid.
"The next season was a pivotal year, and we came back with a terrific 14-1 record," Fehlberg said. "Last year we thought was pivotal because we wanted to build on the success of almost making it to an Alliance Bowl. Well, we didn't get it done. So that makes this a pivotal year."
No more, no less than any other. Just more passes this time around.