BYU introduced Kalani Sitake as its next head coach on Monday. The former Cougars fullback has spent his coaching career on the defensive side of the ball where he spent a decade coaching at the University of Utah with his final six as the defensive coordinator, and last year he was coaching the same position at Oregon State.
Coming back to BYU, Sitake was asked about the rivalry with Utah which he is obviously familiar with.
“It’s the second game, so I’m not really focused on that game,” Sitake said when introduced as the head coach. “Trust me, you don’t have to say much about the rivalry. I’ve experienced both sides of it, and it’s been fun for me. The rivalry is so close with family members and friends.
“The rivalry speaks for itself. It’s fun. Being on the other side, there’s a lot of similarities with the fan bases. Streaks are meant to be broken, and I hope we get to that as soon a we can.”
The coaching staff is still being worked out about who will join Sitake’s staff and if any current staff members will reaming. However, the big question is if he will be the defensive coordinator in addition to being the head coach, and what role he will have on offense.
“That’s still being worked out. I am a defensive-minded coach, but if you’re a great fan, you know I played on the offensive side as a fullback,” he said. “I have an offensive mind. It helped me as a defensive coach. I plan on being on both sides and see how we establish staff, in terms of who’s making play-calls. That’ll be worked out in the next little bit. My goal is to get the best recruiters out there first.”
Recruiting is a big deal with BYU’s limited pool of talent compared to the rest of the country, but Sitake being the first FBS head coach of Tongan decnet is a big deal in recruiting. This could allow him that Polynesian pipeline to come back to the Cougars.
“I’m proud of my heritage and where I come from. That’s important to me. But I’m also proud of being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,” Sitake said. “I just happen to be Tongan, which I’m proud of as well. It’s important to me, but it’s just part of who I am.
“There’s a lot of young men that go through this place and it changes their life. A lot of guys here and throughout the world experienced what I did. I’m going to build on that. This is a special place, it’s unique. Good things can happen for you if you come to this school. Recruits, get ready, because I’m living proof. I played here. I lived this life. I met my wife here, made brothers for life here. This is a great place if you want to be a part of that.”
Taking this job also means that a tough schedule is facing Sitake with the Cougars being independent and he is ready for the challenge.
“I’ve watched (athletic director Tom Holmoe) put together the schedule as an independent school,” he said. “I’ve been impressed with the schedule we have. The opportunity to go play these opponents, I’m fired up for it. We keep getting tough opponents, yeah, let’s do it.”