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6 Reasons BYU’s Head Coaching Gig Rivals Those of Major College Football Programs

Kalani Sitake finds himself in an enviable position as BYU's head coach.

It was a little over a month ago that we were talking about why Kalani Sitake was likely to stick around BYU for the long haul rather than chase after the then-recently vacated USC job.

Well, another month has passed, and with the firing of the University of Washington’s Jimmy Lake, Kalani Sitake is once again getting named as a potential replacement for a Pac-12 program.

When these conversations come up, they inevitably lead to discussions about the perception that BYU’s head coaching gig simply doesn’t compare to that of other major college football programs. Here’s why that’s wrong.

1. BYU Is About to Be Part of a Power Conference

Let’s get one of the obvious points out of the way — with BYU set to join the Big 12 in 2023, the idea of the Cougars not being a major football power becomes even more of a fake argument.

Even before the Big 12 invitation, the SEC, ACC and Big Ten considered BYU a P5 for scheduling purposes. Of course, it is extra sweet that the Pac-12, which doesn’t count BYU as a P5 foe, has gone 0-4 against the Cougars this season.

The invitation to the Big 12 brings extra money, prestige and recruiting power for the football program. While we’ll touch more on some of these later, there’s no denying that Big 12 membership is an immediate boost to the perception of the BYU head coaching job.

2. A Passionate, Nationwide Fanbase

Players aren’t the only ones who care about fan support — it matters to coaches, too. Coach Sitake repeatedly praises the Cougar faithful during his press briefings, and for good reason: the fans have shown up in full force after they were largely kept from attending games in 2020.

BYU vs Idaho State

BYU had an average home attendance of 61,647 this season — the highest average since 2009. This includes three official sellouts, one of which was the finale against FCS foe Idaho State. Cougar fans have turned out in force on the road as well, making up the majority of the crowd at the season opener against Arizona in Las Vegas. Compare that to this year’s dismal attendance at schools like Stanford.

3. Alignment With the AD

A recent article from the “Inside College Football with John Talty” newsletter made this great point about what makes a successful head coaching job:

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“Alignment is a critical factor consistently mentioned. What does that mean? It means there is institutional support from top-to-bottom to help the football program achieve its goals. It means all the key people are rowing in the same direction. It means when something is deemed as an essential investment, it gets made. […] When Saban tells his bosses or the program’s boosters he needs something, it typically gets done, and it’s a significant point of the equation. He doesn’t have to beg to get raises for his top assistants.”

Right now, it sure seems that Kalani Sitake and Tom Holmoe are on the same page regarding the direction of BYU football.

4. Increased Investments In Football Facilities

Coaches’ salaries aren’t the only measuring stick for investing in a football program. The school recently completed a major renovation of the football team’s locker room with an impressive array of amenities. This season also saw the completion of the new video boards and sound system to enhance the stadium experience.

Lavell Edwards Stadium

All of this is taking place before BYU gets the increased revenue that comes from being part of the Big 12. Ongoing investments in football facilities is an outward example that the administration and the school’s donors are more than ready to help the Cougars fit in as a member of a P5 conference.

5. Recruiting Strength On the Rise

Sure, BYU’s recruiting rankings have never been all that impressive — but with the move to the Big 12 and some impressive NIL deals, BYU is clearly becoming a more desirable location for top recruits. With the team’s Built Bar NIL deal for the entire team, the Cougars can further improve depth quality with better walk-on offers.

From landing high-profile transfers like Kingsley Suamataia to making the top five for Cormani McClain, recruits are taking notice of BYU. And while BYU will probably never get the number of blue chip recruits that USC or Alabama do, the Cougars have a long history of overachieving with their recruiting classes. Bringing in more top talent is only going to make the team even more competitive both on the field and on the recruiting trail.

6. Prestige

No, BYU doesn’t have as many national championships as Alabama or Notre Dame. But to argue that there isn’t prestige associated with coaching the Cougars is a ridiculous argument. This has been Kalani’s dream job for a reason.

BYU has won a national championship. P5 programs like Oregon, Virginia Tech, Kansas State, Arizona State — and of course, Utah — have never won a national championship in football. BYU also has a Heisman winner, 52 All-Americans, and seven members of the College Football Hall of Fame. And that’s just a sample of BYU’s honors and awards.

As a private school, BYU isn’t obligated to disclose Kalani Sitake’s salary — even after announcing a contract extension. And while BYU’s head coach is probably never going to be paid as much as Nick Saban, that doesn’t mean that the BYU job is a “minor” job.

BYU may not necessarily be a “blue blood,” but it certainly has a lot of things trending in its favor to encourage Coach Sitake (or any other coach) to stick around.