Arizona State football is a cluster of a mess. Herm Edwards was the king of the cluster and ran that program like Willy Wonka ran the chocolate factory. It's important that we establish that truth: Brother Herm was terrible at his job and Arizona State is a dumpster fire.
HOWEVER, there is an element to what ASU was trying to do with Wormy Hermy that is kind of appealing. Remember when he was hired and they talked about Herm being the team CEO and hiring coaches?
It was mocked when they said it and that mocking is probably justifiable. Clearly, a head college football coach needs to be good at the college football thing. Herm was a bad CEO because he was not good at the college football thing. But that doesn't mean that ASU's line of thinking was TOTALLY flawed.
As a wise and profound stranger on TikTok said, "There are many ways to **** a goat. You can stick its head in the fence. You can wear velcro gloves. Or you can stick its hind legs in your pockets."
There is no one way to run a football program. There are many ways.
Nick Saban is the raving lunatic who yells and screams at everything while demanding absolute perfection. That way, clearly, has worked for him.
Dabo Swinney is the motivator who loves his players and connects with his coaches in a different way. That was is clearly working for him as well.
Different CEOs can have success doing things differently. We all believe (most of us, I guess) that Kalani Sitake has the ability to be a very good CEO. Right now, his company is having a v v bad quarter and he about to throw the defensive staff out with the bath water.
But what happens after that? What changes need to happen so that BYU Football, LLC can be successful moving forward and avoid another quarter like this one?
Let's put our CEO hats on, folks!
Step 1: Find Your Robert Anae
Forget the football aspect of Robert Anae. I'm not smart enough to sit here and tell you why the Xs and Os of his offense worked and why others don't. So, forget all of that. When I say that Kalani needs his Robert Anae, I'm talking about something entirely different than Xs and Os.
Ask yourself this question: When Anae was at BYU, how many days do you think Bronco Mendenhall spent thinking about the offense?
Do you think he was thinking about scheme or various personnel groups? Do you think he was coming up with plays to show Dr. Bob when he got into the football offices the next morning? Honestly, do you think he was even involved with the game plan at all?
I don't think so. Aside from a few 'go or punt' decisions during games, I think Bronco spent more time on MySpace (he seems like he's the kind of guy who is still trying to keep MySpace alive, doesn't he?) than he did thinking about the offense.
How did he get away with that? Because Bobby A. was the head coach of the offense. He had full control. It was his offense. It wasn't a team offense or some sort of cumulative effort. It was the Anae offense. And it worked. And when it didn't work, Anae proved time and time again that he could adjust his offense to make it work again.
If Bronco was the CEO of BYU Football, LLC, Anae was the President of the Offense and he ran the company his way and simply reported results to Bronco.
Kalani needs a defensive Robert Anae. He needs his President of BYU Defense Enterprises to run the ship.
BUT THAT'S NOT HOW BRONCO RAN HIS DEFENSE AND THAT'S NOT HOW WHITTINGHAM RUNS HIS DEFENSE!
No, it's not. But it's different for Kalani (remember, someone people like velcro gloves and other people have easy access to a chain link fence). Bronco had a defensive scheme that was his. He hired defensive coordinators who were willing to run his scheme. Whittingham is the same way. He promotes defensive coordinators from within because they're all running his scheme.
Kalani doesn't have 'his scheme.' Kalani has the scheme that Whittingham ran at Utah and Kalani was part of it, but it wasn't ever his scheme. So, it's different for Kalani.
He needs to hire a guy who can bring in their scheme and run it without Kalani needing to be there hand-holding and helping every step of the way. There are enough things to do as the CEO of BYU Football, LLC that you can't invest all day into game plans and tackling practice. You need a strong executive team to do that for you. He's got that in Aaron Roderick. He needs that on the defensive side of the ball now too.
Step 2: Kill The Kumbaya
If you think this is about 'Kalani only hiring his friends' then I need you to go find a bunch of lemon juice and squirt it up your nose until your brain is cleared of stupid thoughts. Of course Kalani hires people he knows. Welcome to college football. Now move along to real storylines.
Let's turn to everyone's favorite company, Dunder Mifflin, for help explaining what I mean here. When Jim was promoted to Co-Manager, Oscar had some very great thoughts that Kalani should take to heart.
"It doesn't take a genius to know that any organization thrives when it has two leaders. Go ahead, name a country that doesn't have two presidents. A boat that sets without two captains. Where would Catholicism be without the Popes?"
Right-Oh, Oscar, Right-Oh!
This whole notion of there being a defensive coordinator and an assistant head coach who is also heavily involved in the coordinating and all of our play calling and game planning is a collaborative effort and we loves puppies and rainbows and long walks on the beach nonsense needs to stop.
BYU's defense needs a leader. One leader.. The offense needs a leader. One leader. That leader can get information however they want, but at the end of the day, that leader is the leader and the decisions is theirs, not 'ours.'
The last few years, BYU has ran a defense by a committee. And that's just plain stupid. So neuter the committee and hire an actual leader.
Step 3: Maybe Job Descriptions Or Something, I Dunno?
What is the point of having a recruiting director if the linebacker coach is still the one doing all of the evaluating and prioritizing who should be on the roster?
What is the point of an player personnel director if the offensive line coach still decides who joins the team and when?
Imagine a world when the General Manager of the Utah Jazz is asking assistant coach Alex Jensen to make major decisions on trade deadline deals.
That's a stupid world.
BYU has needed more recruiting resources for many, many moons. Those resoures are finally coming. That means that BYU needs to adjust how they complete tasks. Position coaches don't have to sift through Hudl film anymore. Instead, position coaches can coach their position and then show up when a recruiting coach tells them to show up for a visit, and send some damn texts every once in a while.
More resources only matter if you utilize them to their potential, ya dig?
So write some job descriptions and create some lanes. Let people do the jobs that they are hired to do.
Figure out the ROI on every position and allocate time accordingly. Time is, after all, the most valuable resource that anyone has. If the defensive line coach is spending his time looking at Hudl game film while his defensive line is a hot mess, are you really getting a positive ROI on your defensive line coach investment?
Step 4: Culture And Confidence
I swear if I see one reply to this article that says "need a disciplinarian" then I'm going to retire from all forms of BYU media. I can't handle it anymore.
Does BYU need discipline? Of course they do.
Can any fan who says "need a disciplinarian" actually describe what that means in the context of BYU Football, LLC?
"But Jeff Grimes brought discipline and BYU has missed it since he left!"
Folks, Jeff Grimes didn't say two words to the defensive side of the football. If you were to ask Jeff Grimes the names of defensive players at BYU, I'd venture a guess he could only give you jersey numbers.
What do people even mean when they say BYU needs a disciplinarian? Someone to make them run stadium stairs when they're late to class? Someone who demands excellence and throws headphones when excellence isn't achieved?
Let's just be real with each other... when the everyday fan says 'need a disciplinarian' they are talking about a coach who yells and screams a la Brother Saban. When everyday fans say 'need accountability' they are really talking about the need for punishments.
Does BYU need to be a more disciplined team? Yes, they do.
Does BYU need more accountability as a team? Yes, they do.
But it isn't about 'hiring a disciplinarian' as much as it is about creating a team culture of being disciplined and accountable. That doesn't come from a defensive coordinator the same way it didn't come from Jeff Grimes.
It comes from the culture that Kalani Sitake cultivates and the leadership of his players.
The biggest disciplinarian and accountability holder during the Grimes era? Zach Wilson.
Sure, Grimes got after his guys more than Ilaisa Tuiaki does. Jeremy Pruitt and Scott Frost like to yell and punish too. Culture isn't about the coaches. Culture is about the players.
In 2021, we all loved the play of Tyler Allgeier busting his ass to force a fumble and save the game against Arizona State. That play embodied selflessness, effort, and a true love for your teammates. Allgeier played with heart that is rare and he put it all on display that game.
When he punched that ball out and walked off the field like he was walking away from an explosion, did anyone question the culture that existed in the BYU locker room?
At a regular company, your culture is about the employees. Executives and leaders can try to move culture in a certain direction with specific initiatives, but unless employees buy in, those initiatives are fruitless.
BYU needs buy in. It's up to Kalani to find a message that resonates with the leadership of this team and then it's up to the leadership of this team to drive culture. Zach Wilson drove culture with his work ethic and his attitude. The team followed suit. Tyler Allgeier drove culture with his heart and his effort. The team followed suit.
Who is driving the culture ship right now? Who will drive it in December?
No matter who is coaching on the sidelines, Kalani has to find a way to inspire his players to drive culture. He has to find a way to instill confidence in his team and find ways to push his coaches to work harder.
Humans are funny, when you think about it. Society has allowed social media influencers to become a real, actual job. People talk with confidence about a certain subject and literally influence people to live life a certain way or to buy a certain product.
Humans need strong leaders and strong examples.
More than any sort of disciplinarian, BYU the kind of player leadership that has existed the last few years.
It wasn't just Wilson and Allgeier. It was Wilson and Allgeier together in 2020. It was Dax Milne who made it a point to show everyone that he was overlooked and played with a chip on his shoulder. It was Baylor Romney who was quietly preparing each and every week to be the starter even though nobody expected him to ever be a starting college quarterback. It was Lopa Leiataua who was playing through injuries with nothing but love for BYU football in his heart. It was Neil Pau'u who could have quit multiple times because of off-the-field circumstances but was still there, working hard every single day.
BYU's coaches can yell and demand excellence like Saban or they can motivate and love like Dabo, it really doesn't matter. If the players don't buy into the culture and lead themselves, the strategies won't work.
Kalani's job is to figure out how to draw leadership out of his players again. That is something this year's team desperately needs.