Sandy • For the first time since its inception in 1989, the annual Rivalry for Charity golf tournament on Monday pitting teams from the University of Utah and BYU didn’t feature at least one of the head football coaches from those schools.
But the show went on at Hidden Valley Country Club, and so did the laughs, thanks to the former coaches — BYU’s LaVell Edwards and Utah’s Ron McBride — the guys who made the 26th annual event benefitting the National Kidney Foundation of Utah and Idaho what it has become, a staple on the early June calendar for media outlets hungry for sound bites and college football news of any kind.
The foundation’s official position was that Utah coach Kyle Whittingham and BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall couldn’t make it because they were busy conducting youth football camps on their respective campuses. But it has not been a secret that the instate coaching peers have grown weary of appearing at the event, especially Mendenhall, a non-golfer who seemingly always lost to Whittingham because the Ute coach insisted on bringing professional golfers or polished amateurs. Mendenhall brought football players to compete in the four-man scramble format and liked to use it as a bonding experience.
What will happen next year remains to be seen.
The format changed Monday, but longtime friends Edwards and McBride rescued it again, even if their "teams" didn’t face off for the Kidney Cup.
This time, the BYU team featured former football players Hans Olsen, Brian Kehl, Ben Criddle and Carlos Nuno, although Olsen had to leave early for his radio gig and the team’s scorekeeper had to fill in the last few holes. Former Utah quarterback Frank Dolce good-naturedly complained about that rules violation, while admitting that his team didn’t exactly stick to the guidelines either because it had just one other former Ute football player, quarterback Todd Handley. The other two golfers were Andy Waters and Greg Boyce.
"Apparently, Hans Olsen had some cramps and was unable to finish," Dolce quipped, an obvious reference to LeBron James’ struggles in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
Naturally, it ended in a tie, with both teams shooting 5-under-par 67s, according to master of ceremonies Rod Zundel, who may or may not have adjusted some scores for dramatic effect.
After it was decided that both teams would have to sing their rivals’ fight song to break the tie, McBride joined the red-clad golfers and crooned a scripted alteration of "Rise and Shout" that included references to the "trail to pain and sorrow" and "my heck is the word if we lose the game tomorrow."
Edwards joined the former Cougars in singing "Utah Man," but their scripted account went something like "I am a Utah man, sir, a thought that makes me green … the greenest you’ve ever seen … I’ll be a Utah man until I qualify for the Y."
When the discussion turned to Olsen having a job in radio, McBride invoked the famous line of former Cougar Lenny Gomes and told Edwards, "At least I’m not pumping your gas."
Edwards, 83, could afford to smile at that, because he teamed with Derek Roney, Ryan Rice and Richard Watson to win the entire tournament, shooting a 14-under 58. They won TaylorMade drivers and an invitation to play in the Liberty Mutual Invitational at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., next spring.
"We made a lot of 15-foot putts that you don’t normally make, and it came down to the last putter on two or three of them," Edwards said.
McBride’s team of Bob Mueller, Dennis Ford and Wes Roberts shot a 61.
Asked about his health, Edwards, 83, said he is doing all right but gets tired at times.
"A few holes today, I didn’t play, I just putted. I putted pretty good. They didn’t use my drives, though," he said, noting that his heart is "good" after undergoing open-heart surgery in December of 2012.
"Now if I had a back and a hip and feet that were better, I would be all right," the Hall of Fame coach concluded.
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