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PROVO — The lackluster finish to BYU’s football season, which ended with two consecutive losses in winnable games, has led to many of the faithful to demand changes to the coaching staff.
If a team has a disappointing season, often the head coach changes — or even overhauls — his staff in an attempt to divert the pressure or buy more time. For example, USC coach Clay Helton, whose team lost to BYU in Provo last September, fired his defensive coordinator after the Trojans lost 52-35 in the Holiday Bowl.
Texas coach Tom Herman fired his defensive coordinator and demoted the offensive coordinator after the final regular-season game. The Longhorns then beat Utah in the Alamo Bowl to finish 8-5.
Two years ago, shortly after the worst BYU season in 40 years, coach Kalani Sitake replaced offensive coordinator Ty Detmer. The former Heisman Trophy winner and arguably the most popular player in program history was the first of several assistants on offense not retained.
This year, one month after the Cougars lost 38-34 to Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl, the coaching staff remains intact. But like he did during the middle of last season, Sitake has altered some of the duties for multiple assistants; although he doesn’t plan to announce any changes.
The midseason changes were significant, involving play-calling on both sides of the football.
“I believe for the most part our guys are pretty much set,” Sitake said in a postseason interview on The Zone Sports Network. “Looking at the titles and responsibilities, we’ve already made some adjustments in our responsibilities and things that we’re going to get done. But I don’t think it is really anything to go out and advertise right now. I think we have some things that we’ve done within the program that’s going to help our team function well on offense, defense and special teams.”
Unlike two years ago, when the offense was consistently awful, this season’s team played well on both sides of the ball. The problem was the maddening inconsistency each unit displayed at various times.
In the final regular-season game, the defense shined in a 13-3 loss to San Diego State. The offense played much better in the bowl game until inexplicably failing to get 2 yards needed for first down that would have clinched the win.
Mirroring the inconsistencies, BYU’s season was a bizarre pattern of upset wins and embarrassing losses. The result was a predictable 7-6 record for the second consecutive season.
“My job is to try to figure out a way we can have a lot of consistency as a team,” Sitake said. “We lacked that. That’s my number one responsibility going into the offseason.
“Goal number one is for us to find ways to have more success 2020.”
Personnel changes, though, could still occur if any of the assistants receives a better offer. Assistant head coach Ed Lamb, who has experience as a head coach at Southern Utah, could be a candidate to leave if he gets a chance to take over his own program.
Lamb, as would be expected, is interested in becoming a head coach again. Sitake prefers that all of his staff prefer to move up the coaching ranks.
“I want to really help our coaches to find ways to get opportunities and take advantage of all their opportunities,” Sitake said. “I’m going to be one that’s really going to be pushing for them to try to get their dreams.”
Whatever the future holds, Sitake deserves the right to make his own choices on the assistants and support staff. Ultimately, since the fate of the program rests with the head coach, he should have the final say on personnel decisions.