COUGAR TRACKS

Does BYU’s Losing Season Put Kalani Sitake On Hot Seat? Tom Holmoe Weighs In

Dec 5, 2023, 5:30 PM | Updated: 5:42 pm

Tom Holmoe, BYU Football, Athletic Director...

Tom Holmoe shared his thoughts on how BYU football performed in 2023 in Las Vegas. (Mitch Harper, KSL Sports)

(Mitch Harper, KSL Sports)

LAS VEGAS – The BYU football season might be over, but it was a hot topic for athletic director Tom Holmoe in the city that knows heat, Las Vegas.

Holmoe is in Sin City for a couple of reasons. The Big 12 is holding regularly scheduled meetings. Then, the National Football Foundation recognized Holmoe with the John L. Toner Award for excellence in athletic administration and dedication to college football.

Holmoe has been in the AD chair at BYU since 2005. During that stretch, he’s only experienced two losing seasons on the gridiron. The second occurrence was this past fall.

BYU finished with a 5-7 record and closed the season on a five-game losing streak for the first time since 1955.

Tom Holmoe on BYU football finishing 5-7 in 2023

What was Holmoe’s assessment of how the season played out?

“I thought it was pretty much what I expected it to be,” Holmoe said to KSL Sports in an exclusive interview. “I thought that it would be super competitive. I thought it would be a difficult transition.”

Five of BYU’s seven losses in Big 12 play were by double-figures. Within those five, there were three losses by more than 30 points to teams that are going to be part of the new Big 12 in 2024 and beyond (TCU, West Virginia, and Iowa State).

“I think I said this early on when people asked me, ‘What’s it going to be like in the Big 12?’ Then I said, ‘We’ll get punched in the nose, we might take a knee, and we’ll gather our senses and stand up and carry on and we’ll learn and grow.’ And I think that’s kind of a summation of what the season was. We learned a lot about ourselves.”

Not all was lost from the season. BYU had wins against Arkansas and Texas Tech.

The team showed effort and willingness to battle in the season’s final two weeks as large underdogs to Top 25 teams Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

But it was the type of season that led to head coach Kalani Sitake parting ways with offensive line coach Darrell Funk and tight ends coach Steve Clark.

Is Kalani Sitake on the hot seat after a losing season?

Does the losing season ratchet up the heat on Sitake’s seat in the eyes of Holmoe?

“No. I say no to that,” said Holmoe.

Back in October, Sitake, during the week of the matchup with the Texas Longhorns, said in passing when asked about his relationship with Steve Sarkisian that he and Tom Holmoe “speak the same language” because both were raised in the BYU football culture as players under LaVell Edwards.

Sitake is under contract as BYU’s head coach until the 2027 season.

“My relationship with Kalani as athletic director to head coach is one that’s strong,” said Holmoe. “We’ve worked together for a number of years now. We’ve had some highs and some lows. I believe in him and the style that he has, and the way that he works with young men.

“I believe that, together, we’ll continue to work on finding different ways to succeed. Maybe different styles in working with student-athletes, recruiting staff, and all those things.”

Life in the Big 12 is much different than Independence

For the past five decades, BYU football has been one of the winningest programs in the nation. But in the Big 12, they are looking to find their identity within a league that jumps to 16 teams in 2024, with rival Utah being one of the new additions.

“BYU football as an independent was quite a bit different from BYU football in the Big 12. I think one of the things that was valuable [in 2023] is we learned about teams, their styles, the environments, the atmosphere, the depth, about how each of the teams play. We’re not familiar with a lot of them. We boded well with some of the teams and not with others.

“So I think it gives us a year to gather together, make the necessary changes that we have to be more competitive and start getting on track towards being a championship team in that league.”

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.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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Does BYU’s Losing Season Put Kalani Sitake On Hot Seat? Tom Holmoe Weighs In