Sitake welcomed home as BYU coach
PROVO, Utah (AP) Kalani Sitake has been preparing for this moment since he was 8 years old, even if he didn't know it at the time. The new BYU coach reminisced Monday on watching games as a child and criticizing the coaching staff.
Those Monday morning quarterbacks will take aim at him now.
''I grew up a BYU fan, so I was voicing my opinion from Day 1,'' Sitake said. ''Everyone that bleeds blue, that's how you live. Whether you're a football player or not you want to be involved with it.
''So, my job isn't to tell them what to do because I was one of those guys having some criticism. My job is to make sure that they rise and shout and are cheering.''
Sitake, 40, was introduced at a press conference Monday afternoon that doubled as a homecoming party. He lived in Laie, Hawaii and Provo, Utah as a child and played fullback for Hall of Fame coach LaVell Edwards. Family, friends, former players and Edwards packed the studio inside the BYU Broadcasting building to say welcome back.
Sitake is the first FBS head coach of Tongan descent.
Athletic director Tom Holmoe declared his love and admiration for Sitake and the new coach said all the right things, but there were few details given as to what the program will look like.
Sitake stressed that recruiting is everything, but declined to say much about scheme. He is known for his defensive background, serving as defensive coordinator at Utah for six years and one at Oregon State, but only said they want to be ''aggressive.'' Sitake said they want to be balanced on offense, but didn't elaborate.
Putting together a staff is an ongoing process, but Sitake wouldn't say if would make the calls on defense.
Sitake talked about his love for BYU's unique environment and how it developed him as a man, but did not get into the challenges of coaching an independent school.
Sitake declined to list priorities, simply saying he will demand excellence ''in everything.''
''This is a special place,'' Sitake said. ''It's unique. Good things can happen for you if you come to this school.
''Recruits, get ready. I'm living proof. I played here. I lived this life. I met my beautiful wife here. I made great friends, brothers, for life here. This is a great place for you if you want to be part of that.''
Holmoe acknowledged there will be challenges for a first-time head coach, drawing back on his own experience at California, but said Sitake's pros outweighed the cons. Holmoe also interviewed Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo. He declined to name other candidates.
The BYU coach must be an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so the pool of candidates is much smaller.
''We're not going to have that opportunity to look at people who have been in the business for a long, long time,'' Holmoe said. ''But I've had incredible experiences being around first-year assistant coaches, coordinators and head coaches. I know how difficult it is, because I was a first-year head coach without having that experience and didn't really do well.
''That's really a benefit to Kalani because I can sit with him and we can talk about the things that will be coming his way, that he will be seeing that will be difficult for the first time. ... That number of an age, really is (just) a number. ... In athletics, you just go for it. ... There will be some hills and valleys along the line.''
Edwards called it a great choice and said he remembers thinking Sitake had the ability to be a coach when he was a player.
''It's very special to have a former player come on,'' Edwards said. ''Particularly a guy like Kalani.''