A Bond Deeper Than Football

It’s been a short but sweet companionship between BYU and Jordan Leslie. Leslie came to BYU to be coached by his former UTEP coach, Guy Holliday. Holliday talked about Leslie and what he means to him. He said he’s never shed a tear when talking about former players, but this time his eyes did water when talking about Jordan Leslie.

It’s tough for coaches, especially those with big hearts like Coach Holliday. Sure, he may yell a lot and have that tough outer shell, but deep inside Coach Holliday loves and cares for his players once they leave his side as their football mentor.

“What is hard for players to grasp is that for 95 percent of them is that football is over,” said Holliday. “What you realize at that time is their dreams, and they don’t realize and you don’t want to kill people’s dreams, but they’re coming to an end. There’s a part of you that really feels for them.”

It’s a difficult aspect to grasp for those who’ve never played the sport of football their entire lives to just have to give up something they love. Coach Holliday fully understands that many of his players go through a sort of post-football traumatic stress syndrome by not being a part of the one thing they spent much of their lives doing. He tries to ease those emotional situations by simply helping them to understand that football isn’t everything.

“On the other hand just as a person you want to know that you’ve reached that person. A lot of that goes through your mind,” Coach Holliday said. “The reality of it is when after this bowl game and they’re so used to coming into this building and it’s just a different feel, because football is a business and that’s the hard end of it whether in college or in the NFL.

“At the end of this season your locker Will Pretty much be gone, and someone else will be in there. As a person and a human you feel for that person because- and some people can’t appreciate this- some of these guys have been in this since they were five years old. Man, when you think about someone taking something away from you that you’ve had since you were a kid a lot of players find it hard to adjust.

“The higher you go, the more you play, the harder it is to walk away, and it’s a lonely feeling because for at least for the last 10 years of your life you’ve gotten up early in the morning, you’ve worked out, you’ve lifted weights, and you’ve pushed on towards this dream and then it’s taken away from you. You hope that most of them can transition well over to real life, and then take that same drive and become successful. When you see that happen you feel really good, but the reality is some guys can’t and that transition is hard and each person deals with not having that game in a different way. As a human being and as a former player you think about that often.”

One senior player that is visibly on Coach Holliday’s mind is Jordan Leslie. The two have had an extensive history together spanning two college football programs. When Coach Holliday came to BYU, Leslie eventually followed not because of how good of a coach Holliday is. Rather, because Coach Holliday has reached the heart of Leslie on a more personal level.

“That means a lot because you know that you’ve reached the person off the field,” said Coach Holliday. “The fun part of this game is winning football games, but where you get your most joy is when you reach a young person off the field. If you know his background and his story, and you have a chance to fill a void, he’s (Jordan Leslie) like a son for me.”

Coach Holliday paused for a moment as his eyes begin to swell.

“It’s hard,” he said with a quiver in his voice. “It’s hard to let those people go. It’s tough… it’s tough. I’m not shedding a tear.”

You can visibly see the love and feel it in Coach Holliday’s voice, and while Leslie will more than likely try his hand on securing a spot on an NFL roster, Coach Holliday is comforted in knowing that his young protégé will be secure in life going forward regardless if the NFL is in his future or not.

“He’s gotten an engineering degree, so first and foremost I hope he keeps playing because I know that’s what he wants to do,” said Holliday. “But, I know he leaving here he’s going to be well prepared in life. I mean, if I had an engineering degree I probably wouldn’t be coaching, so I probably wouldn’t be having you guys criticize me all the time.”

Coach Holliday begins to laugh thinking of the thought of him actually being an engineer.

“I would probably have some guy criticize me about some bridge I built. No, but [Jordan] will be well prepared so as time goes on he’ll be successful off the field and that’s really important.”

Cougar Cam: Guy Holliday and Jordan Leslie

Jordan Leslie talks about heading over to the Stewart home for Thanksgiving and the keys to beating Cal. He talks about how it's hitting him that he's come to the end of his college football career at BYU, reflects upon his short but sweet experience, what makes BYU special, and of course talks about the man who’s been a major part of his life: Guy Holliday.

Jordan Leslie Video

Cougar Cam: Coach Holliday

In this video one can see the love between coach and player as Jordan Leslie. Jordan Leslie has fun with Coach Holliday during what was their last regular season interviews.

Guy Holliday Video

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