Edwards played football for Utah State University and earned a Masters degree at the University of Utah prior to coaching at BYU. While head football coach at BYU, Edwards also earned a doctorate. He and his wife served an 18-month mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in New York City during 2002–2003.
LaVell serves as a National Advisor to ASCEND: A Humanitarian Alliance. This non-profit organization plans expeditions to African and South American countries to provide life skills mentoring with sustainable solutions in education, enterprise, health and simple technology.
Edwards was BYU's head football coach from 1972 to 2000. His offensive scheme was passing-dominated. He started coaching in an era when college football offenses were dominated by strong running attacks. His quarterbacks threw over 11,000 passes for more than 100,000 yards and 635 touchdowns. He got the idea to switch to a pass oriented team by looking at BYU's past history. The BYU football program had been a dismal failure before Edwards with the notable exception of one conference championship that resulted from the aerial attack of Virgil Carter. This past success encouraged Edwards to open up the BYU offense.
Awards won by his players include a Heisman Trophy, a Doak Walker Award, a Maxwell Award, two Outland Trophies, four Davey O'Brien Awards, seven Sammy Baugh Awards, and 31 All-America citations, including 11 consensus All-Americans. In 1984, he was named National Coach of the Year after BYU finished the season 13–0 and won the National Championship. Edwards retired after the 2000 season with a 257–101–3 record for a .717 winning percentage.
Prior to Edwards' final game, the football stadium at Brigham Young University was renamed LaVell Edwards Stadium in his honor. At the time of his retirement, he ranked sixth in all-time victories. Edwards received the Amos Alonzo Stagg Award, presented by the American Football Coaches Association, in 2003.
In the 1980 Holiday Bowl, BYU rallied from a 45–25 deficit with only 4 minutes to play to defeat Southern Methodist University (SMU). Trailing 45–39 with seconds to go, Quarterback Jim McMahon, completed a game winning touchdown pass to Clay Brown.
Following the 1984 national championship, Edwards was offered the head coaching positions with the Detroit Lions as well as the University of Texas at Austin. Edwards remains a prominent leader and speaker for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is affiliated with BYU.
- Edwards carrying the Olympic Torch in 2002
6th on NCAA all-time list for coaching victories (257)
Member of the College Football Hall of Fame
Coached 6 all-American quarterbacks
His teams led the nation in passing offense 8 times
His teams led the nation in total offense 5 times
His teams led the nation in scoring offense 3 times
- Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award (1979)
- AFCA Coach of the Year (1984)
- Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year (1984)
- Amos Alonzo Stagg Award (2003)
Dick Felt, former BYU assistant athletic director/assistant head coach/defensive coordinator/defensive backfield coach (BYU defensive back/running back/punter)
Mike Holmgren, former Seattle Seahawks Coach & Cleveland Browns President of Operations (BYU quarterbacks coach)
Steve Sarkisian, University of Washington head coach (BYU quarterback)
Hal Mumme, New Mexico State coach
Norm Chow, Utah offensive coordinator (BYU offensive coordinator)
Dave Kragthorpe, former Oregon State head coach, (father of Steve Kragthorpe) (BYU offensive line coach)
Kyle Whittingham, Utah head coach (BYU linebacker)
Fred Whittingham, longtime NFL and college assistant coach (BYU Defensive Coordinator)
Robert Anae University of Arizona offensive coordinator (BYU offensive Lineman)
Brian Billick, former NFL head coach (BYU tight end/graduate assistant)
Ted Tollner, former USC head coach (BYU offensive coordinator)
Doug Scovil, former SDSU head coach (BYU offensive coordinator)
Brandon Doman, BYU offensive coordinator (BYU quarterback)
Tom Holmoe, BYU athletic director & former Cal head coach (BYU Defensive Back)
Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles head coach (BYU lineman/graduate assistant)
Charlie Stubbs, Louisville offensive coordinator (BYU graduate assistant)