|BYU Football coaching staff 2015-16 (Courtesy BYU Magazine).|
Now that the BYU Cougars have answered the big question about who would be the new offensive coordinator, it is time to move on to the question of what might happen with the other offensive assistant coaches? Who might stay? Who might be let go?
Jeff Grimes hasn't coached at a G5 school since the year 2000 (Boise State). That leads to another big question: How many coaches in Grimes' network would be willing to come to BYU? Besides the issue of the Honor Code, he has been rubbing shoulders with guys who are already P5 position coaches. They may consider coming to BYU as a step down, not just in the college football hierarchy, but in pay as well. As was seen when Bronco Mendenhall left for Virginia, all of the assistants that he took with him received big salaries.
If Grimes brings in some of "his own guys" expect them to be graduate assistants who have passed through Auburn, Virginia Tech, or LSU while he has been at those schools. The other possibility is that there are some of his former teammates from UTEP in the coaching ranks who are at G5 schools, and they reach out to Grimes seeing BYU as a step up.
It was widely assumed that former offensive coordinator Ty Detmer would not be brought back as the quarterback coach, either.
Grimes was an offensive lineman for UTEP from 1987 to 1990. His Miners were 0-3 against BYU in games that Detmer played. Seeing and knowing what Detmer did then, he may try and talk Detmer into staying. Plus, like Detmer, Grimes is a Texan.
However, the odds of these two factors resulting in Detmer staying are, probably, very slim.
That makes Snow College head coach Paul Peterson the prime candidate for quarterbacks coach. Besides his new follows on twitter, Peterson makes the most sense because of his background as a college quarterback at Boston College, and experience coaching quarterbacks at Snow College (2005), Southern Utah, and Sacramento State. Peterson was also the Passing Game Coordinator and/or Offensive Coordinator at these schools. He also knows Grimes from the one year he spent as a Graduate Assistant at BYU in 2006.
Through personal interaction with Peterson, Blue Cougar Football has learned that returning to BYU has been a career goal of his for a long time.
A sleeper candidate could be Steve Clark; the current tight ends coach for BYU. Clark has eight years experience as a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at Southern Utah and Weber State before coming to BYU. His time at Southern Utah was concurrent with Peterson, so the Thunderbirds' success during those years that qualifies Peterson for the job could also be used to qualify Clark for this position.
Why would Clark move from coaching tight ends? More on that later.
Reno Mahe is the incumbent.
In the Blue Cougar Football 2017 season review, the running backs received one of the highest grades that was awarded. It was also the position group on offense with the highest ready for kickoff rating in the Sneak Peek at 2018.
From his three seasons at BYU before, Grimes understands how important it is to have a good relationship with the Polynesian community. It is going to be a little hard to justify getting rid of Mahe based on past performance. Even if Grimes has a guy he wants to bring in, Sitake might veto the decision to get rid of Mahe.
Grimes might have someone he really wants, and someone Sitake has a really hard time rejecting. For example, a former Auburn or LSU running back who was really good and is now coaching at a smaller school, but looking for an opportunity to move up. In that case, Mahe could be considered a candidate for wide receivers; remember, he did play that position at BYU in 2001-02, or a dedicated special teams coach. BYU really needs to improve on kickoff and punt returns. Mahe led the NFL in punt returns in 2005.
Former BYU great Jamal Willis (for the young readers, yes, that is the right name and spelling) appears to be interested in coming to Provo to coach running backs. He isn't publicly campaigning for the job, but he isn't shooting down twitter rumors about wanting the job, either. Willis has some experience as a high school football coach, and currently runs a "full service RB training program."
Ben Cahoon has been a polarizing figure during both of his stints as an assistant coach at BYU. Many feel the wide receivers have underachieved while Cahoon has been the coach. However, lately, Cahoon has garnered praise for his ability as a recruiter.
Aaron Roderick has been lurking in the distance. He was a consultant for BYU last year. At the University of Utah, he coached wide receivers for nine seasons. Three of the players he coached were drafted by the NFL. Roderick was at Southern Utah and Utah during the years that Grimes was at BYU. The two may have crossed paths a few times.
Patrick Higgins was the wide receivers coach for BYU when Grimes was offensive line coach. Higgins left after the 2010 season and worked at Purdue and UTEP. He was an analyst for Bronco Mendenhall at Virginia in 2016 and is currently an Assistant Director of Enforcement for the NCAA. He may be interested in returning to coaching.
TIGHT ENDS & OFFENSIVE LINE
Matt Bushman was just named Freshman All-American, which helps Steve Clark's cause to retain his position on the staff. However, he may have competition from another member of the BYU offensive staff: Mike Empey.
Depending on what Grimes wants to do with the offensive line, Empey may be a candidate for coaching the tight ends. The NCAA is allowing schools to hire an additional assistant coach for 2018. That gives Sitake the option of having Grimes be just the offensive coordinator, rather than offensive coordinator and coach a position group. That might be logical, but because there is also a defensive coordinator, it could become divisive since defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki would still have position group responsibilities.
Going back to his first job after being a graduate assistant, Grimes has not coached another position group besides offensive line. It is safe to say he will not trust anyone but himself to be the offensive line coach.
However, it is important to note that Clark was a graduate assistant under Grimes his final two seasons at BYU (2005-06).
Back to that tight end job.
Empey was BYU's tight ends coach for five seasons from 2000-04. He sent Tevita Ofahengaue, Spencer Nead, Gabriel Reid, and Doug Jolley to the NFL. Daniel Coats was a Freshman All-American under Empey's watch, and eventually made it to the NFL as well. That is a great resume.
Like with Mahe, politics could come into play with Empey. If Grimes finds all things are equal between Empey and Clark, the fact that Empey has a son on the team could get him the tight ends job. Clark could be retained since there is the NCAA is allowing an extra assistant coach. Maybe he is the one to take over special teams full time, or mostly special teams and give some o-line and/or quarterback support.
It may take some time before the offensive assistants are announced. Grimes is going to continue to coach at LSU until the Tigers' bowl game on January 1, 2018. When Robert Anae was brought back by Bronco Mendenhall to be the offensive coordinator in 2013, he didn't have a bowl game to worry about. It still took over a month to get all the position coaches hired.
So, don't get anxious about it. Go enjoy the holidays.
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