By: Danny Holmgren
This afternoon BYU and Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall made the re-hiring of Robert Anae official as the offensive coordinator for the Cougars. Current offensive coordinator, Brandon Doman, has been demoted from that position after holding it for the last two years and will become the quarterbacks coach, speculatively. Anae, who was the offensive coordinator at BYU when Mendenhall became first head coach in 2005, returns to BYU after a two year leave that he has spent in Tucson with the University of Arizona.
During his first coaching stint, Anae was not always a fan favorite, but he has always been a respected and beloved coach in the locker room and coach’s office. Anae led the offense during one of the most productive periods in Cougar history, leading BYU to four 10+ win seasons and continuously ranking in the top 25 offensively in the country. During Anae’s six seasons as offensive coordinator, BYU earned top-25 NCAA offensive statistical rankings 28 times. The Cougars were ranked in the top 25 in third-down efficiency in each of Anae’s six seasons, including a No. 1 ranking in 2009. BYU was No. 2 in the country in that category in 2006 and 2008. The Cougars achieved a top-6 passing ranking three times — in 2005, 2006 and 2008. While sometimes accused of being conservative and predicable in his play calling, those offenses certainly didn’t struggle to put up points. Led by Anae, BYU legends such as Dennis Pitta, Johnny Harline, Max Hall, John Beck, Curtis Brown, Austin Collie, and Harvey Unga put up big stats and big points for the Cougar offense. Since Anae’s departure, BYU’s offense has struggled, finishing 39th in total offense in 2011 and 55th in 2012. With a top 3 defense like BYU put on the field this last season, finishing 8-5 is unacceptable and I’m glad Mendenhall made the change.
But, why bring back a coach that technically resigned, but was probably given the choice to resign or be fired? Is there nobody else better that BYU could hire? Former BYU 4-year starter Jake Kuresa was a lineman during Anae’s previous regime. He tweeted this afternoon:
“OL loved Anae. Certain skill players not so much. Doman was the opposite. Part of last yrs problem IMO. Definitely won’t have to worry about our OL as the weak link anymore. He’s no nonsense. Didn’t go out of his way to make you FEEL well. Went out of his way to make you PLAY well. Experience w/ 2 of most explosive O’s ever (AirRaid, RichRod) + understand BYU personnel+OL as the foundation=BYU Offense we all want. Tutored under pass genius-Leach, Tutored under Spread Genius-RichRod, understands BYU, Success at Y as Player/Coach. R U Haters Serious?” – @jake_kuresa
I am anxious to see what Anae does. I think he comes back to BYU a little more experienced, a little bit wiser, and with even more drive than he had before. Getting a great offensive coordinator at BYU is a tough draw, folks. BYU does not pay as aggressively as coaches in similar programs to BYU’s do. If it were about money, you better believe that Coach Mendenhall would have been gone a long time ago. A lot of people have asked me why BYU feels they have to hire a Mormon for the position, since only the head coach is required to be a member of the LDS church. The pure and simple reason is that the desire to coach at BYU requires more than just a desire to progress in your career or to make a lot of money. It has to do with the passion of being a Cougar and to buy into the overall purpose of the program which is to help the boys that come to BYU become men and to fulfill the mission of the Church at the same time. Getting a coach with BCS talent is difficult to do when you are offering WAC money, unless the coach really wants to be at BYU. I am looking forward to seeing Robert Anae Part II. He has learned from two of the best offensive minds in the NCAA. Perhaps most importantly, as reported by a blogger from the University of Arizona, he loves beating the Utes.
“If you saw him during the Utah game this year… oh was he savoring beating the Utes in their house. I always thought the Cats got a steal when they got him to come here and I figured we couldn’t keep him for long. Best of luck back in Provo.”
BYU needs to get back to throwing the ball down the field, putting some big points on the board to help out the defense, and most of all, beating the Utes. Welcome home, Coach Anae!
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