The BYU Cougars reportedly interviewed two potential replacements for head coach Bronco Mendenhall, and one decided to pass on the job. According to reports, BYU and athletic director Tom Holmoe offered Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo the position but he opted to remain with the Midshipmen on Wednesday.
Now attention has turned to the other reported top candidate, current Oregon State defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake.
According to Football Scoop, a site focused on the hiring and firing of college coaches around the country, reported Sitake was “prepared” to fill the Cougars vacancy if Niumatalolo opted to stay in Annapolis. However, since that report there’s been no word of BYU officially offering Sitake the position.
Much like Niumatalolo, Sitake has many ties and support within in the Provo community and program. He was a fullback for the Cougars during his playing days, and later stayed in the state for 10 years as first an assistant coach for Utah and later ascended to defensive coordinator.
And it was just last year that Sitake, 40, left the state to join the Beavers and head coach Gary Anderson’s staff.
Since word spread of Niumatalolo’s decision, Anderson’s comments to The Oregonian on Wednesday suggests he fully supports his assistant.
"I don't know where it's going to be with Kalani. I really don't," Andersen said. "I'm going to support him as he moves through the process. BYU doesn't have a coach yet, and Kalani is somebody that BYU should definitely be looking at, in my opinion."
Several reports suggested Sitake met face-to-face with Holmoe about the position, but The Oregonian stated Sitake was in OSU football’s offices on Monday and was spotted at the coaching staff’s Christmas party on Tuesday night.
Along with his ties to BYU and its rival Utah, as well as his reputation as a rising coaching talent, Sitake would also fill the Cougars requirement that the next head coach be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. When Mendenhall surprisingly took his new job with Virginia, Holmoe told reporters his search will be either than most other athletic directors because he already knew the list of candidates with a strong enough resume and are active LDS church members.
While prepping for Saturday’s Las Vegas Bowl against the Utes, the Cougars were linked to a number of top candidates over the last week, including Stanford defensive coordinator and celebrated recruiter Lance Anderson.
Anderson is not only available, but is holding out for a head coaching job. Rivals.com reported that Anderson will not leave the Cardinal to accept a defensive coordinator position with another school. He was tied to Michigan’s defensive coordinator vacancy.