The question that every BYU fan is asking themselves...
Todd Graham is out at Hawaii. The only people who are upset about this is the wrist band manufacturers that now have to lay off entire production lines. Everyone else? They've seen this coming since the day he was hired.
With Graham's departure comes another head coaching opportunity for some of BYU's coaching staff. Ed Lamb was close to getting the job when Hawaii hired Graham, and he will presumably be towards the top of their list once again.
If Hawaii doesn't want Lamb, they could turn to another BYU coach in Ilaisa Tuiaki. Like Lamb, he is at the point in his career where he could be looking to another step in his coaching career.
It's far from a done deal, but BYU fans are all wondering what the possibilities could be for BYU if either of these two men left. We aren't going to speculate whether or not either of them get the job or whether they would take any additional BYU coaches with them. Those are all speculative things for another day.
Today, thought, we're going to start doing what Kalani Sitake has already done (probably). We are going to put together a list of names who will be on the short list if a defensive coaching position does open up.
Potential Coordinator Options
Is this an easy hire? Yeah, probably. But so was Aaron Roderick when he replaced Jeff Grimes and that turned out to be a pretty good decision, right?
Clune replaced Sitake as the defensive coordinator at Oregon State after Sitake moved back to Provo. He has spent time as the coordinator in Hawaii and at Utah State as well. He is familiar with the BYU players and at this point in the coaching carousel cycle, that familiarity might be an intriguing benefit.
It isn't sexy, that's for sure, but it could prove to be a very good move. People complained about Roderick being promoted too, but boy, it's hard to argue with the results of the offense this season, eh?
Utah State passed over Frank Maile as their potential head coach twice in the last few years. The first time they hired Gary Andersen. The second time they hired Blake Anderson. After the Anderson hire, Maile finally left Logan and is now the Assistant Head Coach at Boise State.
Maile is incredibly well-respected in the football world. He knows his stuff, his players absolutely love to play for him, and he fits what BYU already has going on. He's a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, would bring even more Polynesian connections to a coaching staff that already has more than just about anyone in the world, and he would be able to help immensely on the recruiting trail.
Maile makes a ton of sense.
Nua helped Aidan Hutchinson develop into a top draft pick at Michigan. He also helped David Ojabo develop a probable-top 15 pick this year. The Michigan defensive line was stout and they were elite all season long. Nua played a big role there.
He has never been a coordinator, but he has been a great position coach at Arizona State and Michigan. He surprised some people when he left Michigan this month to take the same job at USC. Would he leave USC before coaching a game? Tough to say, but a promotion to defensive coordinator or a flashy AHC title might be enough to lure him back to Provo.
Kaufusi played at Utah, but the ties to BYU are obvious. I mean, he's a Kaufusi, right?
He has done a little bit of everything in his career. He helped with cornerbacks at Utah in 2009. He was a GA at BYU for two years, sandwiched between two different stints as defensive ends coach at Weber State. Eventually he was promoted to DC at Weber. He coached the defensive line at Nevada, linebackers at UCLA, and now has a myriad of responsibilities at Arizona, including special teams.
His resume screams 'future defensive coordinator' and if BYU came calling, now could be the time.
We all know Jay Hill. He's the head coach at Weber State. Is it likely that he moves from Ogden to Provo to take a coordinator spot? No, it's not. He's been a candidate for potential head coaching openings in the past, so it seems highly unlikely that he'd settle for a coordinator spot.
But if he wants to be a head coach at the FBS level, he needs to ask himself which path will be quicker? A coordinator job at BYU, playing P5 schools and preparing for the Big 12, or a head coaching job at an FCS program?
I don't know the answer, but it's a worthy question.
Orlando was once the defensive coordinator at Utah State. He knows the local region and he can recruit to it. Since then, Orlando has had stints at Houston, Texas and USC. He was not retained by Lincoln Riley when the former OU head man took over the same post at USC.
Orlando hasn't been able to take a traditional powerhouse like Texas or USC and bring them back to prominence, but he is a quality defensive coordinator.
He knows Utah and is familiar with the BYU coaching staff. He knows what it takes to coach at the P5 ranks. Though he likely wouldn't stay more than a year or two in Provo, he could be a perfect 'buy low' candidate as he looks to bounce back after hitching his wagon to Clay Helton the last couple of years.
Here is a name you probably haven't heard, but you should be aware of the Oregon State defensive line coach. He once coached at Montana and let the Grizzlies to four straight FCS playoff bids as their defensive coordinator. He made the jump to the FBS ranks in 2016 when he took the tough job of defensive coordinator at Hawaii.
After a couple of years on the islands, he moved to the P5 ranks where he has been an assistant at Oregon State for the last four seasons.
This dude can coach. He can recruit. And he has built defenses from the ground up. He is the kind of coach you bet on if you're looking for people to grow into the defensive coordinator role.
Other Potential Non-Coordinator Options
Weber State defensive coordinator. He has done great things in Ogden and could be a potential position coach fill-in.
CJ Ah You
After a stint at Vandy a couple of years ago, Ah You has been an analyst at USC the last couple of seasons. The former Lone Peak standout is a young, hungry coach with a ton of potential to be great.
Matty Ah You
Another Weber State coach and another Ah You brother. Matty is currently coaching linebackers in Ogden and is showing a ton of promise. Another young, hungry coach who could be a dynamic recruiter.
If it feels like we're going to the Weber State well a lot, it's because we are. Dale is the co-DC in Ogden. He played at Utah and was a defensive GA at Utah while Sitake was the defensive coordinator on the hill. He could easily fill in as a position coach in the secondary for BYU.
There are a ton of non-coordinator options. BYU would have no shortage of options and interested parties.
One way that BYU could go, especially if it was Lamb who was being replaced, is to hire a full-time Special Teams Coordinator. The duties of the ST aren't crazy strenuous that a dedicated coach is necessary, but this could be a creative way for BYU to find a way to get a dynamic recruiter on staff. A ST Coordinator who is the primary relationship for high profile recruits might just be more valuable than any position coach could be.