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Sitake Not On Hot Seat Despite Oddsmaker Prediction

Brigham Young University Athletic Director Tom Holme, (L) listens to BYU's new head football coach, Kalani Sitake, (R), at a press conference on December 21, 2015 in Provo, Utah. Stake who played for BYU in the 90's will become BYU's 13 head coach. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – An online sports betting odds website gave head coach of BYU football Kalani Sitake the fifth-highest odds to be fired after 2019. Hosts of KSL’s UnRivaled Scott Mitchell and Alex Kirry completely disagreed.

These are all facts about the three-year veteran Cougar coach.

  • Holds 20-19 record
  • 2-0 in bowl
  • Posted one 4-9 season
  • Has never beat rival Utah

Those stats are neither amazing or terrible, according to the duo.

Coaches above Sitake, according to Odds Shark, include USC’s Clay Helton, Rutgers head coach Chris Ash – who has a 7-29 record, Lovie Smith at Illinois who has the same record as Ash, and Auburn’s Gus Malzahn. Malzhan makes the list because Auburn expects Championships.

Comparing Sitake to Ash and Smith is laughable, according to Kirry and Mitchell. Expectations are high at BYU but they are nowhere near what is expected at USC and Auburn.

BYU is giving Sitake time to make his mark as a head coach. The future looks bright after rebounding from a 4-9 year in 2017 to winning a bowl game and finishing 7-6 last year.

Sitake Is Not Being Fired

One reason Mitchell brought up is that Sitake has been assertive and has made some tough changes to advance the Cougar program.

“Kalani has really grown up as a coach and he has made some really tough decisions. He recognized the culture in his program was not one conducive to winning and conducive to being lackadaisical in what was happening,” Mitchell said. “He changed the way they recruit players, changed the accountability of these players, and put a lot on the players to hold themselves accountable.”

One of the most difficult decisions came last year when Sitake decided to replace senior quarterback Tanner Mangum with true freshman Zach Wilson. The move was made after a difficult part of the season and was a smart move, according to Mitchell. It allowed Wilson to ease into being a first-time FBS starter.


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“Just bringing Zach Wilson in last year was a smart move. Now, Wilson is not starting the BYU, Utah football game as his first college start,” Mitchell said. “This game has a different tone if this is Zach Wilson’s first start. He made that move in a player in Tanner Mangum who a lot of people like and respected, but he knew it was the best thing for the team.”

Hiring Coaches At BYU Is Different

To be a head coach in any sport at BYU, you must be a good-standing member in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. There are not many people who are qualified head coaches and a member of the faith.

The BYU athletic department will give a coach some leeway to right the ship of the program, according to the duo.

The other half of KSL’s UnRivaled called out these oddsmakers for not knowing enough about BYU’s decision process in hiring head coaches. According to Kirry, it is extremely unique compared to the rest of the NCAA.

“Kalani Sitake is not even close to losing his job at BYU, especially mid-season. This is not a move that BYU does, so when a list comes out like this it is an ill-informed person,”Kirry said. “If they even knew what the rules were to hire someone at BYU they would realize it takes a lot and a mini-act of Congress to get that done at BYU.”

It would take a lot for BYU to even start to think about firing Sitake. Losing to Utah for the fourth-straight time wouldn’t punch his ticket to the hot seat. Losing regularly to teams like UMass, Liberty, and others at the bottom of the FBS might begin a conversation about Sitake’s job security.

For now, he is completely safe and should be nowhere near the top of anyone’s list of being a coach whose job is in danger, concluded UnRivaled.

Tune into KSL’s Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or download the KSL NewsRadio app to subscribe to the podcast. 

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