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Anae's return to BYU a stunning development to some, but not others

Published January 4, 2013 2:44 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A couple days after I wrote in late December, back in 2010, that Robert Anae had essentially been forced out as BYU's offensive coordinator, I received a rather passionate phone call from a woman who would not identify herself. She insisted that Anae left BYU on his own volition, and could have stayed there if he wanted to. I am presuming that the woman was an Anae family member, because she promised me that Anae's son, Famika, would stay on the BYU football team. He did, but battled chronic knee injuries last season and decided to give up football. Today, as you probably have heard, news broke that BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall will bring Anae back as the school's offensive coordinator and demote OC Brandon Doman to quarterbacks coach (if Doman accepts that new role, which is not certain at the moment). It certainly appears that my anonymous phone informant was right. It sounds like BYU officials recently reached out to Anae and persuaded him to come back for a mulligan. You can read more about this developing story here. Also, Tribune columnists Kurt Kragthorpe and Gordon Monson have weighed in on the strange turn of events in Provo. Obviously, there are a ton of questions surrounding this move that reporters are trying to get answered. As of 2 p.m. Friday, BYU had not responded to requests for more information. Most of what I know right now is included in the aforementioned article, information gleaned from several sources. Remember, BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe hinted last October that all this was coming, saying that changes would happen and that he was frustrated with the Cougars' offensive performance the past two years under Brandon Doman. My sources are telling me that Holmoe pushed Mendenhall to re-hire Anae and that Mendenhall wasn't against it. BYU's offense struggled under Anae in 2010, and his shortcomings were especially apparent in the regular-season ending loss to Utah. The Cougars let up on the gas pedal too much when they were driving for the go-ahead score late in the game and got conservative. They settled for a field goal attempt, which was blocked. Most fingers were pointed at Anae. Some fans might forget that the Cougars were one of the best teams in the country at converting on third down under Anae. In fact, they were No. 1 in the country in that category in 2009, Max Hall's senior season. They were No. 2 on third-down conversion percentage in 2006 (John Beck) and 2008 (Max Hall's junior year). As mentioned in the report, it appears that offensive line coach Mark Weber will leave BYU and join the staff at Utah State in the same role. Assuming the rest of the staff stays, Anae is expected to be the new OL coach and Mark Atuaia, a former BYU running back, will be added to the staff, perhaps as the running backs coach. Atuaia has been working as an assistant to Holmoe for student services. Before that, he worked as an assistant to the dean of student life at BYU.