BYU introduces new head football coach Kalani Sitake

New football head coach Kalani Sitake poses with his former coach LaVell Edwards at a press conference on Monday. Sitake takes over as head coach following Bronco Mendenhall’s departure to Virginia. (Kristen Kerr)

Recently hired BYU head football coach Kalani Sitake addressed the media, close friends and family at a press conference Monday.

“It’s great to be back. I enjoyed my journey the last 15 years. It’s great to be back home,” Sitake said.

The former Oregon State defensive coordinator replaces Bronco Mendenhall, who is leaving to fill the head coaching position at the University of Virginia. Sitake thanked BYU President Kevin J. Worthen and Athletic Director Tom Holmoe for believing in him and sharing his “vision.”

“It’s a momentus occasion today to bring Kalani Sitake in as the new football coach at BYU,” Holmoe said. “We’re so excited for this man. He’s a tremendous football coach.”

Sitake expressed gratitude and appreciation for many mentors and family members who have influenced his life, including Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham and Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen, both of whom he previously coached under.

“I am the product of a lot of sacrifice from so many different people that raised me as a BYU fan when I was young and supported me when I was a player and also afterwards in my career,” Sitake said. “And those people are family to me.”

Sitake’s former coach and BYU legend LaVell Edwards was also present at the conference. Having been a BYU player himself, Sitake said he plans to “share that family atmosphere that we had when I played.” Edwards motivated Sitake to serve a mission and Sitake said he’s “going to lean on (Edwards) heavily” with matters related to the program.

Sitake has already focused heavily on recruiting in his short time as BYU’s head coach and will continue to do so. He jokingly said several times that they should end the conference so that he could get on the phone with recruits and “get (back) to work.”

Although in-state rival Utah poses a recruiting threat as a member of the Pac-12, Sitake said BYU is a “special place” and he is living proof of that.

New BYU head coach Kalani Sitake played full back for the Cougars in 1994 and from 1997 to 2000. He plans to focus on recruiting and calls himself “living proof” of what BYU can do for recruits. (Universe Archive)

“Recruits, get ready, because I’m living proof; I’m going to look you in the eyes,” Sitake said. “I played here, I lived this life. I met my beautiful wife here. I made friends, brothers for life, here. So this is great place for you, if you want to be a part.”

Sitake wants to make BYU a more balanced team. He said they want to establish the line of scrimmage and punt the ball less on offense, while becoming more aggressive on defense.

“We see eye-to-eye. We haven’t been together very many days and we talk as if we were teammates in the same backfield,” Holmoe said. “So I look forward to the opportunity to be with Kalani and to look forward to the future of the BYU football program.”

BYU opens the 2016 football season against the University of Arizona on Saturday, Sept. 3 and will play Utah the following week on Saturday, Sept. 10 in Salt Lake City.

Sitake said he isn’t focused on the next rivalry game against Utah yet — that’s the second game next season. The Cougars have lost the last five editions of the “Holy War” but Sitake wasn’t concerned.

“Streaks are meant to be broken,” he said.

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