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BYU football: Anae returning to Cougars as offensive coordinator

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PROVO — Robert Anae has returned to BYU.

Anae, who served as the Cougars' offensive coordinator from 2005-2010 before resigning to take a job at Arizona, has been re-hired as the Cougars' new offensive coordinator, coach Bronco Mendenhall announced Friday night.

The Deseret News reported Friday morning that Anae would be re-hired. Anae arrived in Provo Friday from Tucson, Ariz., for a round of interviews and to officially accept the job.

"I am excited to announce Robert Anae as BYU's offensive coordinator," Mendenhall said in a release. "During his career Robert has been involved with some of the best offensive schemes in college football, and he has a proven record of coaching elite-level offensive production. He is also a man of great intelligence, personal integrity, complete honesty and total loyalty. Robert is the ideal person to oversee our offense, and I'm thrilled he will be returning to BYU."

Anae left BYU after the 2010 season to become the offensive line coach and run game coordinator at Arizona.

"I'd like to thank Greg Burns, Rich Rodriguez and the Arizona staff and players for an outstanding year in 2012," Anae said. "It was my privilege to be part of the Arizona program the past two years and to have coached the players I worked with in Tucson. I'd like to thank Tom Holmoe, Bronco Mendenhall and the BYU administration for the opportunity to return to BYU. My family and I look forward to an outstanding experience in a very familiar place."

Anae takes over offensive coordinator responsibilities from Brandon Doman, who served in that role the past two seasons. Doman has also served as BYU's quarterbacks coach. As of Friday night, it was uncertain whether Doman would retain that role on the staff, according to sources.

According to the BYU release, Anae and Mendenhall will work together to evaluate the rest of the offensive staff.

"I look forward to working with the young men on our team to represent the BYU brand of football that has characterized our program for decades," Anae said. "I look forward to developing the players on the offensive side of the football at a high level both on and off the field."

BYU reached out to Anae and wanted him back in the program, sources told the Deseret News, to jumpstart a Cougar offense that struggled in 2012. Going into the bowl season, BYU ranked No. 56 nationally in total offense, No. 51 in passing offense, and No. 65 in scoring offense. BYU finished with an 8-5 record in 2012, including four losses by a combined 13 points.

Sources said former BYU running back Mark Atuaia (1991, 1994-96) is expected to join the coaching staff. Last June, Atuaia was hired as an assistant to the athletic director for student services. Prior to joining the athletics department, Atuaia had been serving as the assistant to the dean of Student Life at BYU.

Along with offensive coordinator responsibilities, Anae is expected to also serve as BYU's offensive line coach, sources said. Current BYU offensive line coach Mark Weber reportedly will join Utah State's staff.

After the Cougars defeated San Diego State, 23-6, in the Poinsettia Bowl, Mendenhall announced that longtime assistant Lance Reynolds was retiring after 31 years in the program. Reynolds has been BYU's tight ends coach the past two seasons. Since 2011, Joe DuPaix has coached the running backs, and Ben Cahoon has overseen the receivers.

In Anae's two years at Arizona under Mike Stoops and Rodriguez, the Wildcat offense ranked in the top 16 and ranked in the top 25 in passing. Nick Foles was No. 3 nationally in passing in 2011 and was drafted in the third round of the NFL draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. In 2012, Anae's offensive line opened holes for the nation's leading rusher, as Ka'Deem Carey ran for 1,929 yards and 23 touchdowns.

During his first tenure as an assistant coach at BYU, which began in 2005 when Mendenhall was hired as head coach, Anae was the offensive coordinator and the inside receivers coach.

Under Anae, BYU tight ends Jonny Harline and Dennis Pitta earned All-Mountain West Conference accolades six times. Harline was a first-team All-American in 2006 and Pitta was a consensus All-American in 2009.

During Anae's six seasons as offensive coordinator, BYU earned top-25 NCAA offensive statistical rankings in different categories 28 times. The Cougars were ranked in the top 25 in third-down efficiency in each of Anae's six seasons, including a No. 1 ranking in 2009. BYU was No. 2 in the country in that category in 2006 and 2008. The Cougars achieved a top-6 passing ranking three times — in 2005, 2006 and 2008.

As an assistant, Anae played a big role in one of BYU's most successful stretches in school history — four consecutive seasons of at least 10 wins from 2006-2009.

As a player, Anae was also part of the Cougar team that won the national championship in 1984. He played on BYU's offensive line from 1981-84 and earned second-team All-Western Athletic Conference honors in 1984.

Anae is a 24-year coaching veteran. A three-time Frank Broyles Award nominee for Assistant Coach of the Year (nominated at Texas Tech, BYU and Arizona), Anae spent five seasons coaching with Mike Leach at Texas Tech (2000-2004). As offensive line coach at Texas Tech, Anae helped lead the Red Raiders to a No. 1 ranking in passing three out of Anae's five years and in the top 11 the remaining two. Texas Tech also ranked in the top six in total offense three times, including 582.8 yards per game to lead the nation in 2003—the fifth-best mark in NCAA history.

Anae and his wife, Liane, have two sons, Famika and Max, and a daughter, Penny, who just got married on Dec. 29. His son, Famika, played on the offensive line at BYU before ending his career during the 2012 season due to injuries. Anae's father, Famika, and brothers Brad and Matt, also played football for BYU.

Email: jeffc@desnews.com

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