What May Have Happened to BYU Against San Diego State
After winning five straight games, is is possible that Kalani Sitake was examining his coaches?
***THIS IS ALL MY PERSONAL THOUGHTS AND HAS NO SOLID BASE OTHER THAN MY OWN EXPERIENCE AROUND THE GAME. ***
After a tough loss against now 4-8 South Florida, Kalani Sitake decided to insert himself more into the coaching decisions. It also appears that he asked QB Coach Aaron Roderick to have a more active role in the play calling. With all odds stacked up against them, the Cougars took down Boise State who is now 11-1 and one Memphis loss away from being in a New Years Six Bowl Game.
For the next four games, the team looked the same as they went from 2-4 to 7-4. Kalani Sitake got a contract extension and everything seemed to be going forward in the right direction. But there is a phrase that says "one step forward, two steps back." Or in this case, five steps forward and six steps back.
For whatever reason BYU looked like their old selves against San Diego State. They were unable to finish drives, get pressure on the quarterback, or execute an effective offensive game plan.
Fans watching couldn't help but wonder what was going on. Where was the creative play calling? Why wasn't Baylor Romney given a chance to play? Where was Jackson McChesney? On all of these questions Sitake gave essentially the same answer in the post game. "I don't know."
The initial reaction to all of this could be HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW?!? YOU ARE THE HEAD COACH!! But if we stop for a second and really think about it, maybe there is a reason for all this. Maybe Kalani Sitake was seeing if his coaching staff could do their job effectively. After all, even with a loss the Cougars are going to the Hawaii Bowl.
A Business Decision
Sometimes when a boss or supervisor is trying to see if an intern is ready to take on a full-time position, they test them to see if they fail at a task. In this task the company knows that they are taking a financial risk leaving a difficult assignment to an inexperienced intern. The ideal result would see the intern succeed and then be offered a position. However, at the same time, the boss understands that failure may happen, but in the end it would prevent more damage from being done from hiring an unqualified intern to a full-time position.
That may have happened on Saturday.
Maybe Sitake wanted to see if his coaches had learned anything from the past month and a half where Sitake was influencing the game in drastic ways. Kalani knows that next season is going to be a tough year for the Cougars with no breaks and needs to have a staff that can get the job done. Against teams like Idaho State and UMass it was difficult to get a good read on how they had adjusted. With nothing to lose other than angry fans, why not let his coaching staff try to figure it out against San Diego State?
Again, this is all super speculative and has no base other than the lack of emotion from Sitake during the game and the sudden reversal in play style that we all saw on Saturday.
I don't think Sitake is the kind of coach that wants to be in the trenches of all that is going on with the coaches. He wants to recruit and be an overseer to the team. That is his style of coaching and it is perfectly acceptable. But how could he know how his coaches could really perform against a decent opponent unless he left them alone? He certainly wouldn't run that experiment in the bowl game. Essentially, this gives Sitake a pass to replace any coaches he feels he needs to now, something he could not have done if BYU had won the game with Sitake influencing the game plan more than he is comfortable with. After all, the Cougars would have been riding a six game win streak going into a bowl game likely against a much less talented Hawaii team that BYU should easily beat.
Now I want to emphasize this, KALANI DOES NOT WANT TO REPLACE ANYONE. He wanted his coaches to lead the team to a win against San Diego State and go forward with the same staff for years to come. You could see how upset he was during the post game interviews. As much as he wanted to win, he understands that if changes have to be made, that was one of the only ways to be able to justify doing it.
Maybe I'm completely off about this. Maybe BYU just kept hitting bad luck or perhaps they were already thinking about their Hawaiian vacation they will be having later this month.
Now we will see what happens.