Eye On The Y: Kalani Sitake expects his coaching staff to stay intact after Cougars improved in 2018

However, several members of BYU’s staff have ties to Utah State, and the Aggies have openings after Matt Wells' departure to Texas Tech

Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune BYU coach Kalani Sitake, shown her congratulating USU coach Matt Wells after the Aggies' win in Provo last October, doesn't expect to lose any coaches off his 2018 staff, but can't be sure.

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A year ago at this time, BYU’s football program was in a state of disarray. Uncertainty abounded after the Cougars went 4-9 and missed a bowl game for the first time since 2004.

Coach Kalani Sitake had just released one of the most popular figures in Cougar sports history, former Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer, from his offensive coordinator duties. Several other offensive coaches were also given their walking papers.

It appears that BYU fans can expect no such upheaval this month as college football’s silly season — coaches jumping from one program to another — begins around the country. Sitake told me Monday that he anticipates his coaching staff will stay intact, but can’t be certain.

“That’s one thing you can’t predict,” he said. “There are a lot of things that happen in college football, with hires and people moving to different places. I will say that I want my coaches to keep moving and progressing in their coaching careers. So I want my coaches to be head coaches. Whether the timing is right for them to be coordinators, or head coaches, or whatever it is, I want to promote our guys to keep progressing to becoming head coaches.”

With Matt Wells leaving Utah State for Texas Tech and taking a good chunk of his staff with him, there are obviously going to be some openings in Logan once the Aggies find their new coach. Will the new guy look to Provo, where guys such as defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki and passing game coordinator Aaron Roderick have ties to USU?

“I have a lot of good young, future head coaches on our staff,” Sitake said. “I want to push them to achieve their goals. With that being said, we want to keep the culture and the team thriving and whether they are coaches or players, try to get a machine going. There are a lot of coaches who have come through this program and gone to other places and done well, whether it is high school level or college or even in the NFL.”

Freshman quarterback Zach Wilson has developed a strong bond with Roderick, who could be a candidate to reunite with Gary Andersen if Andersen returns to Logan.

“Oh shoot, I haven’t thought about it,” Wilson said. “I know this is the place they want to be right now, but if different opportunities come up for them I am sure they could always jump. But it is kind of about just worrying about the time we are in now and just going from there.”

Weekly roundup

• Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Weber State was ready and waiting for BYU’s visit after losing 15 straight men’s basketball games to the Cougars. Trib

• The BYU women’s volleyball team swept Stony Brook on Friday and Utah on Saturday to advance to the Sweet 16. Trib and Trib

• How do you shoot 57 percent from the field, score 103 points, and lose? When you give up 113 points, which is what the Cougars did in last Saturday’s defenseless loss at Weber State. Trib

• Surprise, surprise. Most bowl projections had the Cougars playing in Texas, either in the First Responder Bowl in Dallas or the Frisco Bowl in the Metroplex. Instead, they’re headed to Boise to face Western Michigan. Trib

• Zach Wilson isn’t making any friends in Boise. First, the BYU quarterback de-committed from Boise State and signed with BYU last December. Then he ripped on the blue turf in Monday’s press briefing. Trib

• On the eve of BYU’s surprising 95-80 win over Utah State, Nick Emery and Dave Rose talked to reporters about the junior guard’s return after missing the first nine games of the season due to NCAA sanctions. Trib

• Nick Emery gave Rose and the Cougars just what they wanted in the win over the Aggies — pesky perimeter defense and timely 3-point shooting. Trib

Other voices

• Deseret News writer Dick Harmon spent some time with BYU legend Ty Detmer on his Texas ranch and filed this report. Dnews

• Dave Rose signed a one-year contract extension last month, but the last few weeks have not gone well for the Cougars’ 14-year head coach. Dnews

• Here’s the Provo Daily Herald’s take on Nick Emery’s return. Herald

• More from Harmon on what he perceives as BYU coach Kalani Sitake’s new approach. Dnews


A lot of coaches wouldn’t bring back a player who could end up costing him 47 victories, but Dave Rose says he didn’t hesitate when Nick Emery expressed a desire to return.

“We are all disappointed in the outcome of this,” Rose said. “We knew that he would probably lose some games and be suspended some games. Everything is in front of us now. We can move forward. All Nick wants to do is help the team.”

Around campus

• BYU’s fourth-seeded women’s volleyball team rolled into the Sweet 16 with sweeps of Stony Brook and Utah last weekend. The Cougars will face Florida of the SEC at Smith Fieldhouse in Provo on Friday afternoon.

On Wednesday, the Cougars claimed all three AVCA Pacific South Region awards as Heather Olmstead was named Coach of the Year, Roni Jones-Perry was named Player of the Year and Heather Gneiting was named Freshman of the Year.

Gneiting and Jones-Perry were joined on the Pac South All-Region team by Lyndie Haddock-Eppich and Mary Lake. Injured star McKenna Miller and Kennedy Eschenberg earned honorable mention recognition.

• BYU senior Payton Sorenson, from Mesa, Ariz., qualified for the Olympic Swimming Trials in the 50-meter freestyle at the U.S. Winter Nationals in Greensboro, N.C. last week. Sorenson swam a time of 22.77 in the preliminaries to qualify for the Trials for the 2020 Games in Tokyo, Japan.

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