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Five Reasons Kalani Sitake Isn’t Leaving BYU Anytime Soon

Kalani Sitake has led BYU to a 16-1 record in its last 17 games
Kalani Sitake after Utah

For the second straight year, BYU finds itself ranked in the top ten, with national media drumming up the hype and predicting that the Cougars will find themselves in a New Year’s Six Bowl when all is said and done.

But in the midst of all this, some fans are starting to worry that the man leading the charge — head coach Kalani Sitake — could soon be leaving the Cougar faithful behind. This mostly comes after a report from The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman, in which he speculated that Sitake could be a candidate for the recently vacated USC job.

As the Cougars continue to move up in the rankings, Kalani will undoubtedly become a more appealing candidate. But the reality is, he isn’t going to leave BYU anytime soon — and certainly not for USC — here’s why:

1. Kalani Currently Has His Dream Job

Let’s get this out of the way first: Kalani Sitake currently has his dream job. He grew up cheering for BYU during the Ty Detmer era, and played his entire collegiate career under LaVell Edwards. Shortly after he was hired as BYU’s newest head coach, Sitake told BYU Magazine, “It’s a dream come true for me to return home. I love the university and what it stands for.”

Kalani Sitake BYU vs Arizona State whiteout

He’s also notably said that he wants to be the “Polynesian LaVell Edwards.” LaVell famously turned down head coaching offers with the Detroit Lions and Texas Longhorns. LaVell wasn’t going anywhere besides BYU, and chances are, neither will Kalani.

2. The Big 12 Is On the Way

The excitement of the 2021 football season really kicked off with the announcement that BYU would officially join the Big 12 beginning in 2023. For years, one of the biggest knocks against BYU has been its murky status as an independent — certainly not a G5 school, but not on the level of P5s in terms of financial resources.

It’s believed that this was part of why Jeff Grimes made a lateral move to become the offensive coordinator at Baylor. The P5 money was more than what BYU could compete with as an independent.

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By joining a power conference, the financial picture for BYU changes considerably. While the exact details of what the conference’s payouts and media deals will look like after the dust settles is still to be determined, it will certainly be much more than the Cougars have earned as an independent. While BYU has a reputation for paying its coaches less than other comparable schools, the influx of Big 12 money can certainly help the Cougars be more competitive in this area.

3. Kalani Just Signed Another Extension

Right before the start of the season, BYU extended Coach Sitake’s contract through the 2025 season, meaning that if everything goes to plan, Kalani will be at BYU for at least 10 years. As we wrote at the time, “This sends a signal to recruits that Kalani will be at BYU for the foreseeable future. It also shows confidence in Sitake. That vote of confidence could pay dividends down the road if higher-paying jobs come calling in the future.”

This is a good sign that the BYU administration has Kalani’s back. They want him to stick around for the long haul, and they’re going to be willing to do what it takes to keep him here.

4. The USC Job Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

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Kalani’s recent extension stands in stark contrast to the hectic situation at USC. Lane Kiffin was fired five games into the 2013 season. Steve Sarkisian only made it five games into the 2015 season. Clay Helton only made it through the first two games of 2021.

While Sarkisian’s personal issues contributed to his firing, this is just a small sample of how little patience the Trojans have with their head coaches. Helton had accrued a 46-24 record — and even got USC to the Pac 12 championship game and a top 25 ranking in 2020. That wasn’t enough to save him after a 1-1 start in 2021.

To put it bluntly, job stability isn’t really a thing at USC (counting interim coaches, they’ve had five head coaches since the 2010 season). One bad year, and Kalani would likely be shown the door. Why would he want to risk that when BYU’s administration has offered much more support and stability from day one?

5. Kalani (Probably) Isn’t USC’s Top Pick

Another issue with the USC job is that USC probably isn’t that interested in Kalani in the first place. USC has built a reputation for trying to get the biggest names from other P5 schools. For better or worse, BYU probably still doesn’t fit that description — which is why you see reports throwing around names like Penn State’s James Franklin, Oregon’s Mario Cristobal or Iowa State’s Matt Campbell.

USC probably isn’t going to view BYU’s head coach on the same level as the P5 candidates — though that could change if BYU notches a second straight victory over the Trojans at the end of the season.

Sure, Coach Sitake and the Cougars have built a ton of momentum (and national respect) since the 2020 season. But we’re talking about someone who wants to build off LaVell Edwards’ legacy — and that means Cougar fans don’t need to worry about BYU losing its head coach anytime soon.