Tuesday, January 8, 2013

BYU fans should embrace the return of Anae as offensive coordinator

The decision by Brigham Young Cougars head coach Bronco Mendenhall to bring back Robert Anae as offensive coordinator has been called a strange move and a step backwards by some. It is definitely unconventional, but BYU fans should embrace this rehire rather than push back against it. After all, being unconventional is just part of what makes BYU BYU.

Who hasn't heard of the honor code? Get a DUI right before signing with BYU and you have to delay enrollment for a year, even if you are a prized recruit. Get in a fight at a local fast food joint and you're suspended the rest of the season, even if you are a starter. Get your girlfriend pregnant and you have to sit out a year, even if you hold many school records.

BYU is different. The Cougars won't compete on Sunday--period. The school and athletic program has operated its own way for decades. Remember that crazy idea in the early 1970s to throw the ball all the time?

On the surface the news may be surprising and may raise a few red flags, just like the Honor Code, the No Sunday Play rule, and the forward pass have through the years. Notwithstanding those red flags, BYU has managed to overcome and be competitive on a national level.

The unique identity of the school is only part of the reason to embrace Anae's return. It also makes good "business sense."

For most of Anae's previous tenure as offensive coordinator, the BYU offense wasn't just good, it was very good. The chart below shows the Cougars' offensive per game averages for total yards, passing yards and points from 2005-10. It also includes the Mountain West Conference and national rankings in those stat categories, as well as won-loss record, MWC finish, and national ranking.

20056-6Unranked462.4310.133.0
MWCT-2nd2nd1st2nd
NCAA13th6th24th
200611-215th Coaches465.5323.536.8
MWC1st16th AP1st1st1st
NCAA(15th)4th4th5th
200711-214th Coaches442.8298.3830.1
MWC1st14th AP1st1st1st
NCAA(14th)25th14th47th
200810-321st Coaches444.8310.434.2
MWC3rd25th AP1st1st2nd
NCAA(7th)16th6th20th
200911-212th Coaches427.2281.535.5
MWC2nd12th AP2nd1st2nd
NCAA(7th)21st17th11th
20107-6Unranked366.5198.426.2
MWCT-3rd(25th)5th5th5th
NCAA73rd76th70th

Except for 2010, these results under Anae are much better than what BYU has seen the last two years:

2011--405.7, 245.4, 30.1
2012--400.4, 247.2, 28.7

Under Anae's watch, BYU produced two NFL quarterbacks, the second and third leading passers in school history, the top two leading rushers in school history, the leading receiver in school history, the best freshman season, the best single season by a receiver, and the most prolific tight end in school history. Additionally, during this time, BYU won 10 games in four consecutive seasons for the first time in school history, posted the third longest winning streak in school history (one win shy of tying the second longest win streak), and led the nation in third down conversion percentage.

Anae knows what he is doing.

Another reason to embrace Anae's return is that he is Polynesian. When he left two years ago, the Polynesian community did not appreciate it. BYU and Polynesian players go back a long, long way. Many Cougar greats have Polynesian roots. The potential dividends that this could pay in recruiting are enormous.

There is also a precedent in BYU history for this move. In 1977, offensive coordinator Doug Scovil left BYU after a very successful two years. In 1979, he was brought back. The next two years were the most explosive and successful BYU had ever seen. Considering the extraordinary results that BYU had with Scovil's return, why wouldn't Cougar fans embrace this move?

BYU is not like any other school. That leads decision makers to go against the grain when making many important decisions. While rehiring Anae is one of these, there is enough "business sense" in the move to embrace it from both an idenity and business standpoint.

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at bluecougarfootball@gmail.com

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