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Robert Anae to Return to BYU as Offensive Coordinator

January 4, 2013

Robert AnaeI really don’t know what to think about the news in the headline.  When I first saw it in the Deseret News I gave it about as much credence as I did all of the rumors about BYU joining the Big East, Big 12, etc. that have popped up in recent years.  After looking around a little more it looks like the rumors may very well be true in this case.

Twitter is abuzz with people commenting on it, and the Salt Lake Tribune is making it sound more like it is a done deal than just the maybe that the Deseret News offered.  Not Surprisingly, the BYU athletics website is incredibly slow right now, likely inundated with other people curious to find out what is going on.

My first reaction was to question Bronco Mendenhall’s sanity because it was certainly not happy circumstances that led to Anae leaving in the first place.  It is probably a little excessive to say that I was happy Anae left, but I certainly was ready for a new direction.  Like many BYU fans I had grown tired of his predictive play calling, and some of the incredibly questionable decisions that he had made.

On the other hand, I was also quickly reminded of the success that BYU had while Anae was the offensive coordinator.  Success that has been missing since his departure.  During the six years that Anae served as offensive coordinator BYU finished the season unranked only once, and that was his first season 2005.  That was also the first year that Mendenhall replaced Gary Crowton, and with the mess he was handed, I remember being relatively content with the 6-6 record they finished with.

Anae was also responsible for mentoring John Beck and Max Hall to very successful careers at BYU to include the winningest QB ever at BYU in Hall.  Along with those quarterbacks were a couple of incredibly successful tight-ends in Jonny Harline, and Dennis Pitta, who is currently the starting tight-end for the playoff bound Baltimore Ravens.  Not to mention the incredible success of Harvey Unga, who’s career ended too early at BYU.

Since leaving BYU two years ago Anae has been the offensive line coach at Arizona where he assisted Rich Rodriguez in running a top ten rushing offense.  Judging by the overwhelmingly positive remarks from Arizona fans who are sad to see him go, you would think BYU fans would be excited for the return of Anae, but the reactions are wildly mixed.

I have no problem with the perception that Mendenhall is admitting he was wrong.  One of the most important traits of a great leader is to know when you are wrong and admit it.  The reports that Anae’s original departure was largely due to personality conflicts with the now retired Coach Reynolds lead me to think that this rehire may actually be a good thing.

What ultimately happens to Brandon Doman is an interesting issue in and of itself.  If I was him I would likely want to move on with my career elsewhere.  I just can’t imagine it being a good thing for you to work under the guy who you replaced.  Not that they aren’t all adult enough to do it, but it just seems like a mess waiting to happen.

Unfortunately, we will have to wait until next fall to see if this, and any other changes, will reap the benefits we so desire.  The one thing that all BYU fans can agree upon is that the offense needed a major change because the status quo just wasn’t going to cut it.  Maybe this is exactly the kind of seemingly crazy move that BYU needed to make to get back to their former glory.

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