As BYU quarterback Jaren Hall and wide receiver Puka Nacua stood up from the table at the end of Friday’s media session, Hall said three words obviously meant as a joke, but indicative of the team’s overall sentiment.
“Kalani for president.”
While there’s no indication Sitake wants to be the leader of the free world, he does want to stick around at BYU for years to come. He agreed to a new contract extension that will keep him in Provo through the 2027 season, and his players were ecstatic when they heard the news.
“We were all jumping up and down after practice,” Hall said. “Super excited, super happy for Kalani. I think he’s earned it with all the work he’s put in here and all that he stands for for us as players and as the university of BYU.”
In the athletic department’s announcement Friday, the new deal was described as “unprecedented” — a word on which athletic director Tom Holmoe and Sitake himself doubled down.
Holmoe said that when he, deputy athletics director Brian Santiago and Sitake started discussing the future of the football program, the coach wanted to talk about those around him before himself. His assistant coaches, the people that work in the office, the trainers, the strength and conditioning coaches.
“It’s not a one-man show,” Sitake said. “This is something that takes a bunch of people and a lot of sacrifices from a lot of other wonderful people I get to work with. So this is getting them the opportunities and getting our players the opportunities and resources.”
From what Holmoe said, it was imperative that the athletics department not only take care of those around Sitake, but make sure the program had the resources it would need in order to thrive in the Big 12 starting in the 2023-24 season.
“I believe it’s unprecedented because one, we’re able to move forward with our head coach leading the way in a long-term contract,” Holmoe said. “It also is unprecedented that we have made the commitment to Kalani and his staff going forward, and for the rest of the program that we’re going to do the things that we need to to bring BYU football into this modern age.”
Holmoe added that more funds will be allocated to Sitake’s assistants, although that piece is not part of the coach’s new contract. The separate agreements for the assistant coaches will “all be done and renewed by Jan. 1,” he said.
“Those contracts are coming together as we speak,” Holmoe said.
Sitake is in his sixth year at the helm of the Cougars and currently holds a 48-28 record with one game left this season — the Independence Bowl against the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In the past two years alone, Sitake has led the Cougars to two consecutive 10-plus-win seasons.
Sitake signed a contract extension in August through the 2025 season. There’s been some recent speculation, though, that he would be interested in one of the various coaching jobs that have become open in recent weeks — namely at the University of Washington and the University of Oregon. Last month, he batted down any talk about him looking elsewhere at other jobs.
On Wednesday, a columnist at The Oregonian tweeted that Sitake had been engaged in discussions with the school’s open head coaching job. That was just days after Holmoe appeared on BYUtv and said he was engaged in his own discussions with Sitake about keeping the former Cougars fullback.
But Sitake put an end to the rumors and speculation Friday, which will likely assuage fans’ fears of him leaving. His players, however, didn’t seem worried at all.
“As much as there was a lot of stuff going on, there was never a concern for us in the locker room of knowing this is the season that we’ve had and that our coach is still up here on the third floor and still coming to practices with us,” Nacua said. “We love that guy. I wouldn’t say it was a distraction for us, but it’s been pure enjoyment ever since hearing the good news.”
And, through his choice of clothing, it’s clear that Sitake also loves his players, his staff and the BYU fan base.
“I wore three shades of blue to celebrate the moment,” Sitake said.