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Patrick Kinahan: BYU football shedding the 'cheap' label

BYU running back Tyler Allgeier runs for yardage against USC during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021 in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

BYU running back Tyler Allgeier runs for yardage against USC during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021 in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photo)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

PROVO β€” For all the talk of BYU giving Kalani Sitake an unprecedented contract, the pact does not guarantee an ironclad two-way commitment.

Truth is, as we've seen in countless situations across college football, many coaches bolt for greener pastures despite any language in a contract. There's also plenty of examples of buyouts, in which universities fork over outrageous amounts of cash to make a coach go away.

Accounting for these possibilities, the decision to rework Sitake's deal is huge news for the football program on multiple fronts. Aside from doling out more money for the coach and his assistants, the announcement signals BYU making a serious financial commitment to all aspects of the program.

Finally. The blessings of working at BYU only go so far.

"I feel we're taking this to another level here at BYU," athletic director Tom Holmoe said during the press conference detailing Sitake's extension that runs through the 2027 season.

It's unfair to contend BYU has run a prosperous athletic department on a shoestring budget over the years, but the allocated funds fell far short of most similar programs. The need to improve across board was never more apparent now that BYU is about 18 months from moving into the Big 12.

The commitment goes well beyond coaching salaries, although that area desperately needed improvement. For years, many coaches previously employed at BYU often griped at their comparatively low compensation.

"BYU is so cheap," was a familiar refrain upon departure for a higher tax bracket.

This is one of the reasons the football program usually was staffed with coaches shy on experience for their positions. Aaron Roderick, who was promoted to offensive coordinator when Jeff Grimes took a similar position at Baylor, is the rare BYU coordinator not a rookie calling plays.

Going forward into the Big 12, BYU is prepared to pour more money and resources into the football program in virtually every area. The coaches anticipate a difficult transition, but at least now the playing field will be more level.

"We know that's needed to make a bigger commitment because we are all on the same page as to what it's going to take to be successful in the Big 12," Holmoe said. "It will be tough. It's going to be a way tougher initiative than we've been involved with in in the past. We've got to up the ante, not necessarily just salary wise."

As a former college assistant and head coach, along with playing with the San Francisco 49ers for seven seasons, Holmoe gets the need for BYU to step up its game. It was a matter of the administration and board of trustees to sign off on the vision.

Give credit for BYU figuring out the time is now. There was no point in going through all the hoopla of joining a Power Five conference three months ago unless BYU officials were intent on competing.

"From the time that it was announced that we were going into the Big 12 we've had conversations that have been ongoing," Holmoe said. "It's like a company β€” we're trying to make decisions that are going to be efficient for our future success. There are budget issues that come into play."

As a private institution, BYU doesn't release the details of Sitake's contract. But it's safe to assume he will be well compensated even if it's short of the reported $5.2 million Kyle Whittingham makes at Utah.

The important thing is to keep as much continuity within BYU's assistant coaching ranks and other personnel in the program. Over the years, assistant coaches, who build the bulk of the relationships with recruits, have routinely left for higher-paying jobs.

"It's not just about me," Sitake said. "This is about the program, about the players, about the staff. To me, that's what makes it different."

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