COUGAR TRACKS

BYU Fans Should Be Thankful For Perfect Coaches Leading Their High Profile Teams

Nov 26, 2020, 12:20 AM
Kalani Sitake - Mark Pope - BYU...
BYU head coaches Kalani Sitake and Mark Pope. (Photos courtesy of BYU Photo)
(Photos courtesy of BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – The 2020 calendar year has been trying in so many ways, but for BYU athletics, it’s been a breakthrough year for their football and men’s basketball programs. A breakthrough BYU fans have been waiting for since the Cougars became an Independent and WCC program 10 years ago.

On this Thanksgiving holiday, during wild times in 2020, BYU fans should take a step back and be thankful for what they see on the gridiron and the hardwood. All the thanks need to start with the two head coaches leading the way, Kalani Sitake, and Mark Pope.

Both coaches had tall tasks in replacing successful predecessors, but each has shown they are the perfect fits for BYU in 2020 and beyond.

Kalani Sitake is the perfect leader for BYU Football

Kalani Sitake inherited a BYU football program that had proven itself to be a consistent eight to 10 win football team under Bronco Mendenhall. Sitake, a first-time head coach, had his share of struggles early in his tenure. The BYU that Sitake saw as a player with LaVell Edwards leading the way did not face the challenges that Mendenhall and then Sitake had to endure as Independents.

It took time for Sitake; for some fans, it was too much time, as he suffered some brutal losses to East Carolina, UMass, Northern Illinois, and Toledo. But the adversity and the commitment to playing the best talent is paying off for Sitake and BYU football now.

The Cougars No. 14 ranking in the College Football Playoff Top 25 doesn’t diminish what Sitake and BYU have accomplished in 2020. BYU had lacked an identity under Sitake. This year, they found their identity. That identity is an explosive offense with a nasty defense that will leave opponents feeling BYU’s presence.

Off the field, you’ll always hear Sitake showing love and support for his players. The players in BYU’s football program reciprocate the love back to Sitake through their year-round work in the weight room, taking ownership of the team, and always giving their head coach props any way they can for the family atmosphere he’s created.

Mark Pope reaching new heights with BYU basketball

On the hardwood, Mark Pope has ignited a fire in the BYU Men’s Basketball program. This is a program that few realize is one of the 20 winningest programs in college basketball history. Despite that winning tradition, there was a sense from fans that more could be accomplished.

Pope, a second-year coach who moved down University Parkway from Utah Valley University, had big shoes to fill in replacing Dave Rose. He took the BYU job because he believed he could win big. He’s passed with flying colors so far, leading BYU to a 24-8 record and No. 18 ranking in both the AP and Coaches polls in his first season.

That success on the court now has the high-energy and data-driven Pope winning battles away from the court on the recruiting trail against some of the nation’s biggest programs. Landing a graduate transfer like Purdue’s Matt Haarms was a message that Pope and BYU are players on the national scene, and they won’t be just a one-hit-wonder.

2020 has provided changes for everyone in all walks of life. The changes BYU fans have experienced with their beloved Cougars in football and hoops is the type of change that they could only hope will be the new normal going forward.

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 p.m., KSL Newsradio). Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper and the KSL Sports app.

  • BYU Cougars Scoreboard

  • BYU Cougars Team Leaders

  • BYU Cougars Standings

Cougar Tracks

BYU Football, Kody Epps, Ethan Erickson...
Mitch Harper

Way-Too-Early Look At BYU Football’s 2023 Offense

An early depth chart projection for BYU's offense in year one of the Big 12 Conference.
12 days ago
BYU Football, Raider Damuni, Timpview High...
Mitch Harper

Five BYU Football Returned Missionaries To Watch For In 2023

An early glimpse at potential difference makers from the pool of returned missionaries to the BYU football program.
14 days ago
BYU Football, Kalani Sitake, Kyle Whittingham...
Mitch Harper

Four Thoughts On BYU Football’s Non-Conference Scheduling Efforts

BYU is preparing to join the Big 12. With that move comes drastic changes to how they piece together non-conference schedules.
17 days ago
Kedon Slovis, BYU Football, Pitt...
Mitch Harper

BYU QB Kedon Slovis Arrives In Provo For Last College Season

BYU's QB1 Kedon Slovis has arrived for his one and only season in Provo.
26 days ago
BYU Football, Kalani Sitake, 2022 season...
Mitch Harper

BYU Football’s Year In Review For 2022 Season

Dishing out some awards for the 2022 BYU football season.
1 month ago
BYU Basketball, Mark Pope, WCC...
Mitch Harper

BYU Basketball Set To Tip-Off Final West Coast Conference Season

BYU hoops is ready for a 16-game regular season that will conclude its time in the West Coast Conference.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...
KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.
Jordan-Clarkson-Utah-Jazz...
KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.
Football soccer ball on grass field on stadium...
KSL Digital Sales

Everything You Need to Know to Watch the 2022 World Cup

Find out where and when to watch the upcoming games and final match for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, including where to find live updates.
ksl sports logos...
KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.
jimmy-buffett-tour-art...
KSL Sports

Win Tickets Wednesday: Jimmy Buffett

Get your Hawaiian shirts ready.
Iron Maiden tour...
KSL Sports

Win Tickets Wednesday: Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden returns to Utah in 2022 with The Legacy of the Beast tour.
BYU Fans Should Be Thankful For Perfect Coaches Leading Their High Profile Teams