Ilaisa Tuiaki Moving On From BYU Defensive Coordinator Position

Nov 27, 2022, 6:12 PM | Updated: 9:11 pm
BYU Football, Ilaisa Tuiaki...
BYU football defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki apologized to a heckling fan after the Arkansas loss. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
(Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – Ilaisa Tuiaki is no longer the defensive coordinator for the BYU football program.

The seventh-year defensive play-caller announced that he is moving on via his personal Instagram and Facebook pages.

Ilaisa Tuiaki announces he’s moving on from BYU DC position

“What a great 7 year run it’s been. It’s time to venture out and pursue a new challenge. I want to say thank you,” wrote Tuiaki.

He continued, “Thank you to my friend, my brother and mentor Kalani Sitake for the opportunity to coordinate this defense all these years. Timberly, Skye, Sadie, KK & Sylvie, we love you dearly. The Tuiaki’s and Sitake’s go way back to TVA in Laie & 5th East in Provo. This job can’t sever the bond that we’ve built in the fire of adversity growing up with nothing. Contrary to BYU fan belief, we aren’t related! But we will forever be family. #LaieBoyz #ProvoBoyz”

Kalani Sitake issued a statement Sunday night on Tuiaki moving on from the program.

“It’s not possible for me to express my true appreciation for Ilaisa and what he means to me as a friend, brother and coach. Not only have we coached together more than a decade, but he and his wife Viola and their kids are like family to me and Timberly. I can’t offer enough thanks to him for all he has done to help build our football program as our defensive coordinator the past seven years. His dedication is unquestioned and his trustworthiness is unmatched. He is completely selfless in how he handles everything he does. I have seen how much of an impact Ilaisa has had on the lives of the players he has coached and how much he genuinely cares about them and about their well-being. He will always be family to me and to so many others. I know he will continue to have that kind of impact as a coach as he takes on his next challenge.”

Through Tuiaki’s first five seasons as defensive coordinator, BYU was top 50 in scoring defense in each of those years. But things started to regress in 2021 as they were 74th in total defense and barely outside the Top 50 in scoring defense at No. 51.

BYU in 2022 was 101st in scoring defense

Then in 2022, things bottomed out for Tuiaki’s defense. BYU’s scoring defense finished 101st in scoring defense, allowing 30 points per game and an average of 409.7 yards per game.

After BYU allowed 644 yards of offense and 52 points to Arkansas, Ilaisa Tuiaki maintained his defensive coordinator title. But instead of leading the entire defense, Kalani Sitake moved Tuiaki to coach the defensive line full-time. In addition, Sitake took over the play-calling duties.

Along with on-field performance, recruiting along the defensive line became a problem. Last month, BYU lost a commitment from Kahuku High (Hawaii) lineman Stanley Raass to rival Utah.

Before coaching at BYU, Tuiaki worked alongside Kalani Sitake as a defensive line coach at Oregon State and Utah. One of the hallmarks of Tuiaki and Sitake’s defensive lines at those stops was sacks. Especially at Utah, where they were No. 1 nationally in sacks in 2014. The “Sack Lake City” type of defenses never materialized for BYU. This season, BYU finished the regular season with 13 sacks. Three of those were in the regular season finale win at Stanford.

Tuiaki’s move to announce his departure now gives Sitake the pathway to identify his next defensive coordinator before the transfer portal window for fall athletes opens on Monday, December 5.

BYU finished the 2022 season with a 7-5 record and will play in a bowl game announced next week. Then, in 2023, BYU will be a member of the Big 12 Conference.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s BYU football coverage on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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Ilaisa Tuiaki Moving On From BYU Defensive Coordinator Position