Duane Busby – The Man Behind the BYU Football Curtain


Oct 12, 2013; Provo, UT, USA; Brigham Young Cougars cheerleaders run the flag during the second quarter of a football game against Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Lavell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Urquhart-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s Note:  Former BYU Football player, Derik Stevenson, shares his thoughts on Duane Busby.  Busby is at the center of an improper benefits investigation involving the BYU Football program.  Stevenson gives his personal experiences and opinion on Busby who worked for 18 years in the program.

My life had just completely fallen apart. It was around midnight. I was bruised, beaten, and sitting in the back seat of a police car. An officer was driving me off to the Sanpete County Jail. Initially the jail had refused to accept me. They required the police officer take me to the hospital to be checked out because I was in such bad physical shape. The jail warden didn’t want me “dying on his watch”, as he put it. I sat quietly, handcuffed in the back of the cop car, looking out the window. As we drove by the Manti Mormon Temple the officer told me I was going to be charged with attempted murder. I remember thinking to myself, “Derik; what have you done? Your life is over”. It took all I had to not let the officer hear or see me cry. I knew I had to get ahold of Duane.

Duane Busby was more than just LaVell Edwards’ right hand man. He did everything to keep the BYU Football Program operating smoothly. When I first met Duane in 1995 I don’t believe he was even given a title by the BYU Athletic Department. He was just always around. He was always “fixing” problems and dealing with issues. He seemed to be the Assistant for every coach and recruiting coordinator. He was responsible for making sure everyone understood any and all rule changes the NCAA had recently announced. He assisted in all team travel and trip planning and coordination. He created all of the pre-game highlight films and helped the NFL-bound players prepare for the next level. But possibly Duane’s most important BYU Football responsibility wasn’t given to him by LaVell Edwards or the Athletic Director. Duane took it upon himself to seek out the student-athlete that was struggling with one or more “life issue” and he would mentor and coach that young man until he didn’t need assistance any longer.

Every football team in college and the pros has a “Fixer”. A guy whose main role is to make problems disappear and keep everything running smoothly. At the Miami Dolphins they had a “security” guy named Stu. He gave each player his business card. We were instructed to call him directly if we ever found ourselves in trouble with the law, pulled over for a DUI or even if we found out a girl we were seeing had become pregnant. Stu would train us in meetings on exactly what and what not to do when, not if, we were pulled over and we’d been drinking. Jimmy Johnson instructed all players to put Stu on speed-dial and make sure he was the first call we made if we ever found ourselves in a jam.

Duane Busby was our “Fixer” at BYU. But he was absolutely not a “Stu”. Some in local sports radio have taken these recent allegations about Duane Busby and his resignation and are now speculating that Duane is the next Nevin Shapiro of the University of Miami. Duane was drawn to guys that were struggling. As an outsider looking in, you would probably think it weird that Duane would spend time with a handful of guys each year that would appear to be his “projects”. If you could know the man like I do, and could’ve been the beneficiary of his caring and kindness, you too would feel exactly the way I do about him.

It may sound corny, but everyone has things that motivate them and give them purpose in life. Duane Busby took great pride in his job as the Operations Manager of BYU Football, but his real purpose in life was to positively affect as many young men as he possibly could each day and every year. He never married or had kids, but he had a unique self-imposed responsibility to help mothers and fathers raise their sons to become the best men possible. He was absolutely and extension of LaVell in that way. LaVell couldn’t be a second father to 100 boys every year, but Duane did all in his power to at least help LaVell identify those that needed extra help. He would help LaVell fulfill the promises he made to the parents of young boys that he would help them succeed on and off the field.

In addition to what Duane did for me, I personally witnessed him helping countless other student-athletes. Every time he did it without notoriety or fanfare. He didn’t care that anyone knew he was teaching and coaching and motivating these guys to work to become better people. I’m guessing that many of you reading this article had probably never heard of Duane Busby until a couple days ago. That’s the way he wanted it. Not because he was doing anything wrong. Because he didn’t do it for attention or reward. It was what he loved to do. He didn’t have a proud, self-serving bone in his body. He lived a modest life. He was a man of modest means. He is that rare type of person that others may look at as odd or different, but he’s 100% comfortable in his own skin, living his religion of helping other people.

When I called Duane the next morning from the Sanpete County Jail he reassured me that although the next 6+ months were going to be hell, things were going to be alright. He reassured me that he would help me every step of the way. When I hung up the phone I was glad Duane was calling LaVell and my parents and the BYU Honor Code Office. Having him as my support system and my advocate helped me face the trying times I knew would be coming my way. Duane lived up to his word and helped me get through my situation. He helped me not only endure it, but to come out of the other side of it a better person. Duane is one of the biggest reasons I have a great life today. He probably did more for me personally than even LaVell did. He was a mentor and a friend. Like he has been to hundreds of other BYU Football players. Duane Busby is all that is good about BYU and their Athletic Department.

It angers me to hear people talking about him as if he were some shady, run-of-the-mill booster from some crap school. The man is a saint. The man is a giant. Everyone will likely come to the same conclusion at the end of this investigation; Duane Busby is guilty of having a big heart and doing all in his power to help the kids that he’s grown to love. I have no doubt that they will find that he bent and maybe even broke a few stupid, outdated NCAA rules. But BYU’s Athletic Department needs to stand behind Duane Busby because each one of them that truly knows exactly what Duane has always been about. Duane had my back when times were really tough. BYU needs to have his back now. I know many from our Band of Brothers, for damn sure, are going to rise up and be heard.

Duane Busby has always been the magic man behind the BYU Football curtain. I’m not going to sit quietly by and listen to people tarnish the type of person we all know him to be. Wherever you are Duane-O, we love you. You were always there for us. We’ve got your back.

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