Not a problem that Mendenhall and Anae are taking their time to finalize the BYU coaching staff

During the 2012 football season it was very evident that the Brigham Young Cougars needed to make some changes to the coaching staff. Those changes started to be made shortly after BYU beat San Diego State in the Poinsettia Bowl. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall brought in Robert Anae to be the offensive coordinator. It became evident that the entire offensive coaching staff would be revamped.

The hiring of Garett Tujague and Mark Atuaia as assistant coaches was announced about 10 days after Anae came on board. Another two-plus weeks have passed without a single additional hire being announced. For a myriad of reasons, this could be cause for alarm.

The offseason may feel long for football, but college football coaches are still busy year round. January is the final month to recruit for next year. How effective can BYU recruit without a complete coaching staff in tact? Reports have been coming out regularly this month that previously committed high school players have changed their mind and will sign with another school on National Letter of Intent day.

Beyond recruiting, what message does this send to donors and other supporters of the school? Anybody knows that an organization cannot function properly with holes in the upper level management. The nature of college football is that any coach may leave at any time to further his career at another school. Knowing that, athletic directors and head coaches should always be ready to find qualified candidates to fill an unexpected opening. The longer it takes to fill these openings, the worse the perception becomes regarding the competency of the management. When competency in in question, donors don't give as much. Fans don't buy as many tickets.

BYU was ready to hire University of Utah Assistant Coach Aaron Roderick. It was even announced that he had accepted a job at his alma mater. One day later Roderick had changed his mind. That derailed the process, and had made all parties look bad.

Nevertheless, BYU fans aren't worried that January is over and the Cougars don't have a complete coaching staff. In a poll of site visitors this past week, BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL learned that 57 percent responded "no" the delay in finalizing BYU's 2013 coaching staff does not worry them. Just 36 percent responded "yes" they were worried. The remaining seven percent were undecided.

While it is not ideal to go into February without a full coaching staff, it is not time to hit the panic button, yet. There is an endless list of examples that illustrate when it comes to coaching, it is more important to hire the right guy than to hire someone in haste. Great coaching can make the difference in winning two or three more games each season. There is still plenty of time before spring practices to find the right guy who will bring this impact, rather than settle on just anybody.

What I would be more worried about is the amount of outside experience that these new coaches bring to the table. Up to now, all the new hires have been former BYU players with no Division I coaching experience. Atuaia has helped at BYU in various capacities, and Tujague has been a junior college or Division III coach his entire career. That doesn't mean to imply that they won't do well at BYU, but, as far as resumes go, they aren't the strongest.

The last time BYU reorganized the coaching staff two years ago, most of the new hires fit the same description: former BYU football players with little proven experience outside. The results were mixed, and have led to the wholesale offensive changes that are currently being made.

It seems important to note that the coaching staff changes made following the 2010 season were not completed until February 1, 2011. The first year BYU finished 10-3 and ranked no. 25 in the final USA Today Top 25.

Back to the original question, does the delay in finalizing the 2013 coaching staff worry you, it helps to know that the coaches who are on staff have been busy. There have been numerous reports about how they are traveling all across the country and not waiting to try and address the needs of the team. Surely, this is a big reason why the coaching staff has not been finalized, which makes it more understandable.

Thank you to everyone who voted. Don't forget to vote in this week's poll: "On a scale of 1-10, how do you rate the 2013 BYU football schedule?"

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at


  1. I'm not too worried about Tujague. With 14 years of experience coaching offensive linemen (20 if he maintained those duties while HC at COC) he probably has learned a thing or two about the job even if he hasn't done it at this level.

    Atuaia is more of a concern because of his lack of coaching experience. How much from a technical standpoint, how much will he be able to pass on to the Cougar RBs? That was the biggest knock about the previous RB coach. He may have been a good recruiter, but the RBs sometimes had to look to other sources for instruction on how to play their position.

    Where experience comes into play in this is that with time coaches learn and are exposed to other methods, techniques and philosiphies that as players they were unaware of or did not use. Not everyone fits the same mold and coaches need to be able to recognize and respond as needed, even if what is needed differs from your personal taste of experience.

    I think the coaching staff will figure it out, but we'll just have to wait to see.

  2. "The last time BYU reorganized the coaching staff two years ago, most of the new hires fit the same description: former BYU football players with little proven experience outside. The results were mixed, and have led to the wholesale offensive changes that are currently being made."

    If you are referring to Ben Cahoon (who is the only coach hired that was a former BYU football player) then I think that 13 years of playing experience is more than "little proven experience". Mark Atuaia hasn't played (or coached) organized football for 15 years. Comparing the two hires is laughable. Coincidently, Cahoons 300+ professional games is almost exactly the same number of games that Bronco Mendenhall has coached since he started in 1990. Different experience for certain, but experience nonetheless.

    There is a very good chance that BYU will start the most challenging season in its history with only 1 offensive coach who has ever coached a Division 1 football game. That is concerning to a fan like me.


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