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‘Pressure Is Mounting’ For BYU’s Kalani Sitake In New Hot Seat Rankings

Head coach Kalani Sitake addresses players on the first day of BYU Football fall camp. (Photo: BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – BYU coach Kalani Sitake is preparing for his fifth season this fall as the Cougars head man. Sitake’s tenure at BYU has delivered some big wins but some head-scratching losses as well. Leaving Sitake with a mediocre 27-25 record through his first four years.

CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd put out his annual Hot Seat Rankings which evaluates the job security for all 130 FBS college football coaches. The job security was graded from zero to five. Zero equals an “untouchable” coach and five equates to “Win or be fired.”

Like Sitake’s tenure thus far at BYU, his rating falls in the middle with a three. A three rating on Dodd’s hot seat rankings means “pressure is mounting.”

Sitake was in a lot of hot seat talks last year but with getting his team to bowl eligibility he was able to secure a four-year contract extension which keeps him through the 2023 season. But that doesn’t mean pressure isn’t mounting as the hot seat rankings suggested.

The past two seasons with a revamped coaching staff that included bringing Jeff Grimes over from LSU to be offensive coordinator, Sitake’s BYU program has made a significant commitment towards playing younger players. As is the case with playing younger players, the results were up and down. Wins at Tennessee and against nationally-ranked Wisconsin and USC show that BYU under Sitake is delivering the big wins the program has craved as an Independent.

But losses to Northern Illinois, Toledo, and USF the past two years keep that pressure hovering around the well-liked Sitake.

Outlook for Kalani Sitake and BYU in 2020

The 2020 season looks to be a year where the pressure can potentially subside for Sitake because of the experienced personnel and a coaching staff that returns all but one position coach from the past two years.

BYU returns eight starters on both sides of the ball and they have a wealth of experience dotted within the second and third-team units. Highlighted by junior quarterback Zach Wilson and seniors Matt Bushman at tight end and Khyiris Tonga at defensive tackle.

The only problem is that the 2020 schedule might be as tough of a schedule as a Kalani Sitake coached BYU team has faced. Six Power 5 teams appear on the schedule with four of those six played in the first four weeks of the season.

Win above eight games with this schedule (assuming the Coronavirus allows it to be played in its entirety) and the pressure goes away for Sitake in a hurry. If it’s another seven-win season with head-scratching losses, the pressure could potentially continue to mount.

Notable coaches on the hot seat rankings

Along with Sitake, there were some other coaches that caught my attention in CBS Sports’ Hot Seat rankings. Former BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall who’s currently at Virginia received a one which equates to “safe and secure.

Utah’s Kyle Whittingham was one of the few coaches on the rankings to garner an “Untouchable” zero-rating. Gary Andersen up in the Cache Valley at Utah State received a two which equals “All good … for now.”

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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