Bronco Mendenhall leaving BYU to take over the Virginia job was clearly a stunner and came out of nowhere. With the news that Mendenhall is leaving for the ACC it is time to gather a very early list of potential candidate for the BYU job. First and foremost, this is not going to be a job that will be paying over the top money, so coaches looking to get above that $4 million range will not be getting that much, and not likely to be considered. In fact, the salary for the next BYU football coach is probably going to be in the lower range of $1 to $2 million.
Also, look for the next coach to obviously have ties to the LDS church and be a member to be the next head football head coach, and that considerably shrinks the coaching pool of candidates. Then there is the tough schedule that is on par with the Power Five conferences and recruiting from a talent pool that is only slightly deeper than the coaching candidates.
Ken Niumatalolo, Navy head coach
This is the candidate that most everyone is going to say first because he is an LDS head coach and Navy has different, yet similar, restrictions in place for who the Midshipman can recruit. Niumatalolo has had great success at Navy and his team has gone to three straight bowl games, is in the top 25 and has a potential Heisman Trophy candidate in quarterback Keenan Reynolds.
He was in “Meet the Mormons” movie so there are even casual people of the LDS faith who are aware of the Navy coach. The big question is what offense would he bring to Provo? Currently, he runs the triple-option attack at Navy and has spent the overwhelmingly amount of his coaching career running that offense. It is hard to imagine Tanner Mangum running the triple-option attack for BYU. A change in offense would likely be in order. Also, there is the assumption that he would want to leave Navy for BYU.
Kalani Sitake, Oregon State defensive coordinator
Sitake is a great defensive coach and was one of the few bright spots when Utah was transitioning from the Mountain West to the Pac-12. He is a young-ish coach at 40. He is in a rebuilding mode at Oregon State, so his numbers this year are not overly impressive or an indicator of what he can do. He is a former BYU player and graduate assistant where he coached parts of the offense. Recruiting to Utah is different than BYU but it is also similar due to the Utes also recruiting LDS athletes.
Robert Anae, BYU offensive coordinator
Would BYU promote the most senior positioned member of the staff? At Bronco Mendenhall’s press conference addressing the BYU media, he said he can bring any assistants he’d like to Virginia. Could this include Anae, he did hire him back after a stint at Arizona. For consistency, Anae would make sense as he has talent coming back in quarterback Tanner Mangum and a slew of running backs to keep running his offensive set. One concern is that Mendenhall has not developed assistant coaches while at BYU. The one big issue is if this job is too big for Anae.
Darrell Bevell, Seattle Seahawks Offensive coordinator
Who is Darrell Bevell you ask? With the short list of LDS options, lets start there and say he is a member. Then there is the Super Bowl ring he could show potential recruits as he won one and went to another as the Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator. He development Russell Wilson into a very good NFL quarterback and with the Cougars recent lack of success of getting players to the NFL, this could be a hire to start increasing that. His offense is a pro-set and features a good amount of tossing the ball around and that would fit right in with quarterback Tanner Mangum. The knock is that he has zero ties to BYU and his college coaching career has been limited to a graduate assistant with Iowa State and a two-year stint as the wide receivers coach at UConn.
Lance Anderson, Stanford Defensive coordinator
No real clear ties to the BYU football program, but he has been a solid recruiter for Stanford in the state of Utah. He helped sign two players from Utah in the 2015 class, and right now has a verbal commit from four-star wide receiver Simi Fehoko out of Brighton. He has learned under a few very good coaches which include Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw and has guided some of the best defenses in the country while in Palo Alto.
Kyle Whittingham, Utah head coach
The last time the BYU job opened up, Kyle Whittingham was very close to going back to his alma mater. He is obviously well qualified for the job and has helped Utah transition from the Mountain West to the Pac-12 and be contenders for the conference title. He is a defensive coach similar to Bronco Mendenhall. However, one hiccup last time when this job opened up was money and that likely could be a stopping point right there but might not be out of the question. Whittingham currently makes $2.6 million per year so BYU would have to spend more than they are comfortable with if they want to have Whittingam be their next coach.