BYU football’s coaching staff is in rare company. How has Kalani Sitake achieved it?

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It is rare to keep a major college coaching staff intact.

There are distractions like more money, dismissals, retirements and invitations by friends to jump ship and join other staffs.

There are enough mines, personalities, egos, criticisms and golden parachutes to keep the carousel spinning.

It’s a business of nomads, this college coaching profession.

BYU is one of five major college football programs returning all of its 10 full-time coaches for the 2022 season, according to Collegepressbox.com

Other programs with intact staffs for this coming season include Iowa State, North Carolina State, Wyoming and Stanford.

That is an anomaly today.

The late LaVell Edwards generally kept his staff intact, and the continuity was a strength.  His protege Kalani Sitake was able to do this after the 2021 season, and this could be a key heading into the final season of independence before Big 12 competition.

“That would be pretty rare to have all 10 back,” said assistant head coach Ed Lamb.

Why?

“I think the pressure to win is No. 1.  What I’ve seen over the years is that the pressure to win in the position groups is real,” Lamb said, citing the regular drum beat by critics: No sacks, line coach is to blame; not enough rushing yards, running backs coach is the blame; a position group struggles? Get a new coach to lead it. 

“On the flip side of that is an opportunity for a coach to double his salary. You lose them that way like we did with (former running backs coach) AJ Steward, who left for Arizona and is now the running back coach at Oregon State.”

Preston Hadley, the safeties coach Sitake moved to coach the defensive ends last season, said he has enjoyed being a part of the momentum of late.

He enjoys the excitement of coaching and recruiting to the Big 12.

“It’s all Kalani,” Hadley said. “To me, it is all about working with him. I can’t speak for everybody else, but for me, I really enjoy being a part of BYU and what it stands for. 

“Working for Kalani, well, he enables you to have a balanced work life. You don’t have to feel bad if you have other hobbies outside of coaching, which is not always the case, and just how he treats you as a person, he talks to you like you’re his equal. 

“I’ve felt his passion and fire and energy and that’s Kalani, but he allows you to feel comfortable in your own skin. I really feel like I’ve been able to develop and come into my own identity as a coach and not be something that I’m not, a serious or straight-edge type person. Kalani allows me to be myself.”

Aaron Roderick, elevated to offensive coordinator when Grimes departed for Baylor after the 2020 season of 11 wins for the Cougars, also credited the head coach for setting the tone not only for the staff but for walk-ons and scholarship players alike and other staff members in the program.

It’s a formula that sets a certain atmosphere in the building and on the field, and it is apparently Sitake’s approach as he is more comfortable in his own skin as a head coach after six seasons.

The 2022 campaign will be a tough test, no matter the staff.

Opening up at USF on the road, then home games with Baylor and Arkansas, a trip to Oregon, playing Utah State, Wyoming, Boise State, Stanford and taking on a loaded Notre Dame will test every aspect of Sitake’s operation.

Perhaps it’s key that he returns the entire staff. This group will need to stick together because it will be rough.

“It starts with Kalani,” said Roderick. “He just treats everyone with respect. The guy that’s back in the hallway at 10 p.m. at night, Kalani knows his name and he asks about his family. 

“It’s like whoever may be the lowest walk-on on the team, he’s no different to Kalani than Jaren Hall or Zach Wilson.  It starts there.”





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