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BYU chooses experience, connectivity in new hires as Mahe says goodbye

Reno Mahe’s career as a Division I coach took its first detour as BYU announced new hires for its offensive football staff.

Mahe, the former Brighton High, BYU, Dixie State and Philadelphia Eagle NFL player announced over social media on Wednesday his farewell to BYU’s football coaching staff. It lasted two seasons. Mahe will be paid by BYU through July.

This is the normal scene when there are coaching changes in college and the NFL — families are affected in a myriad of ways. It was no secret when Kalani Sitake announced Ty Detmer was relieved of his duties as BYU’s offensive coordinator and almost three weeks later LSU O-line coach Jeff Grimes was named his replacement.

Hours later on Wednesday, BYU head coach Kalani Sitake announced four offensive staff hires, three of them new faces to work with Grimes on BYU’s offensive staff. They include veteran Pac-12 offensive coach Aaron Roderick as pass game coordinator, Weber State offensive coordinator Fesi Sitake, former Grimes protege Ryan Pugh and the retention of tight end coach Steve Clark.

BYU will still hire a 10th coach in January 2018, per a new NCAA rule.

In short, Grimes, who promised to assemble one of the best offensive staffs BYU has had, went with experience. The combined resume of the four coaches represents 51 years college coaching experience even if Pugh and Fesi are only 29 and 31. It includes three former offensive coordinators. If you add in Grimes’ experience of 33 years coaching, most of it in the ACC and SEC, you have 84 years coaching and recruiting experience added to BYU’s staff at the end of 2017.

People ask about Roderick, since he was let go at Utah. Roderick is smart and a veteran of game-planning in the Pac-12. He’s a technician, outstanding recruiter, and communicator. He is very respected by media members in the Pac-12 and Utah, in particular. So is Fesi Sitake, a young, bright, passionate coach known as a superior teacher of the game.

Kalani Sitake announced on Twitter his thanks for service of Detmer, Mahe, O-line coach Mike Empey and receivers coach Ben Cahoon.

The Mahe change doesn’t come without some public commiseration, although it was expected he would not be retained. He’s a good, fun-loving guy, always smiling and joking. He’s passionate and accommodating. The public outpouring of love for him and his wife Sunny and their children made headlines just over a year ago when their daughter died following an in-home accident with a blind cord.

The Mahes observed the first anniversary of Elsie’s passing in Hawaii as the family went to that game, then accompanied their coaching father to recruiting stops in California and Las Vegas. It was Monday after that Hawaii game, on Nov. 27, Mahe got the news about Detmer’s job status.

On Wednesday, Mahe sent the following message on Twitter:

“Coaching has been an amazing chapter in my life and I have made memories and friendships that will last forever. I am excited to watch the new direction of the program and even more excited to open this new chapter and see where my next adventure leads!”

He concludes, “ All the best to the incredible young men I have come to love who don the BYU uniform. Also much love to Cougar Nation. Thank you for supporting me through the loss of my sweet Elsie. I can never repay that debt, but will forever be loyal, strong and true.”

After Elsie’s death, thousands participated in a GoFundMe account to raise money. The Miracles from Elsie Foundation was created and the Utah-Idaho Kidney Foundation also got involved, making a campaign centered around Elsie and the donation of her organs to save lives.

This week, Mahe told me he’s looking at the other side of not coaching Division I which means Saturdays he's free to coach his kids, spend time with his wife, and enjoy the time guys in this coaching profession miss and never get back.

His oldest is an 18-year-old son, Jeffery, and the next is a 15-year-old daughter. He has four boys and four girls. “I have a few irons in the fire. Thing is, I want to control my time and have a say in what my schedule is. That’s what’s best for my family,” he said.

Since this is a dead period in recruiting, it is a week that many coaches are shuffling around through family and holiday time and finding new jobs. It is estimated there will be about 400 assistant college football coaches who will make job changes in coming weeks.

“This is a time I am excited about,” said Mahe on Wednesday as he was preparing to leave his house and take family on a tour of BYU’s football offices, a place he says he’ll visit as often as he can.

This is how it is in college football.

It’s a strange way to make a paycheck and I don’t think we appreciate what coaches at Utah, Utah State, BYU, Weber State, Southern Utah and our junior colleges go through in the course of their careers.

Ofa atu, Reno. Mahalo.

Aloha to Roderick, Pugh, Sitake and Clark.