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BYU’s Kalani Sitake Sees Bright Future Ahead For 16-Team Big 12

May 3, 2024, 6:06 PM | Updated: 6:11 pm

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BYU football head coach Kalani Sitake completed the annual coaches meetings for the Big 12 in Arizona. (Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images)

(Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – BYU football head coach Kalani Sitake is entering his ninth season overseeing his alma mater.

Despite being nearly a decade into the job, in many respects, the current role Sitake holds feels like a year two. The move into the Big 12 Conference created a new set of challenges and opportunities for Sitake’s BYU program.

Last year, the challenges hit BYU like a stack of bricks as they stumbled to a 5-7 finish and missed a bowl game for the first time in six years. BYU’s only wins in Big 12 play were against last-place Cincinnati and Texas Tech with a third-string freshman quarterback.

The physicality of Big 12 play shocked many BYU players last season.

Brett Yormark has been sending that message to everyone nationally who will listen. Look past the media rights dollars; the Big 12 plays a high level of football, too.

“As I’ve said before, I’m betting on the Big 12,” Yormark told reporters in Arizona earlier this week.

The league loses bell-cow brands Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC. But they are set to bring in the “Four Corner” schools with Arizona, Arizona State, and BYU’s top rival, Utah, which will bring membership to 16 schools.

 

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It’s a membership makeup that will take some time to get used to for a conference that, since its inception in 1996, called Dallas and the Plains the heart of the league. Now, it’s a national league that stretches from Tucson, Arizona, to Orlando, Florida.

Kalani Sitake recaps Big 12 Coaches Meetings in Arizona

Thinking of Sitake in the same head coach’s meetings with one of his mentors, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham, seemed unthinkable eight years ago when Sitake took the BYU job.

It was a reality earlier this week for the Big 12 coaches’ meetings at the Hyatt Regency at Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale.

“The biggest focus was on the calendar and what’s going to happen this year [in the conference],” said Sitake to KSL Sports on what took place at the Big 12 coaches’ meetings. “Also, just some things that they’re going to vote on with the NCAA. So we’ll see how that all goes in the next little bit.”

It’s been reported that the NCAA is nearing a settlement for a landmark lawsuit in the House v. NCAA case. That settlement could lead to a revenue-sharing model for athletes.

So, it is safe to say that topics were discussed in the meetings that could change the Big 12 and college football forever.

“I can tell you that this conference has amazing head coaches. I’m just honored to be in the room with them,” said Kalani Sitake. “But to listen to them as we speak and collaborate on different things about the conference. With Commissioner Brett Yormark, I think there’s some really cool things coming up. I’m excited to be part of it. … Obviously, there are some things that I can’t mention that will come out in terms of what we’re trying to do as a conference and what we’re trying to do with our relationship with ESPN and FOX and all of those things. The future is really bright.”

For now, Sitake continues to be focused on preparing his team for the upcoming 2024 season.

Despite being 5-7 a season ago, BYU did not draw an easy conference schedule.

Preparing for the 2024 BYU football season

The top five teams in KSL Sports’ Post-Spring Big 12 Football power rankings are on BYU’s Big 12 schedule (Oklahoma State, Utah, Arizona, Kansas, Kansas State). Then, there are road trips to Baylor, UCF, and Arizona State.

It’s no weeks off in the Big 12. But Sitake has confidence that his roster, which was centered around roster retention, is in a better position for success this fall.

“The result of 5-7 didn’t sit well with anybody, but the urgency from the players to get back at it and to work; this was one of our best springs we’ve ever had,” said Sitake. “It was also one of our best offseason conditioning in January and February. So, let’s build off of that momentum.”

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and hosts the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU’s Kalani Sitake Sees Bright Future Ahead For 16-Team Big 12