PROVO — Call ‘em BYU football’s Three Amigos.
What do you have when you put three former offensive coordinators in a room and they are not the offensive coordinator?
Well, it could be a powder keg of egos, agendas and territory protectors.
It’s way too early to tell what will happen with Cougar passing game coordinator Aaron Roderick, receivers coach Fesi Sitake and tight ends coach Steve Clark. They haven’t won any games together to boast about and they haven’t lost any either.
What they do have is great trust, chemistry and shared experience as grassroots guys who grew up paying dues in the profession. They know about long nights, film sessions, celebrations and defeats. They’ve been to battle with each other. They’re motivated to put their two cents in, fight for what they believe in when in a war room, and know when to accept it when their views are not sold and to not take it personally.
That is the mature approach of veterans.
All have connections to Southern Utah University. All have bloodlines to BYU. Clark has hung around Roderick so long at camps when he was with Utah, he’s memorized his talking points. Clark recruited Sitake as a wide receiver at SUU, then hired him as a graduate assistant for the Thunderbirds, then as receivers coach and followed him to Weber State.
“We work really well together,” said Clark.
“Well, A-Rod is the pass game coordinator, so we defer to him. What he says goes. Jeff Grimes is the coordinator, so we defer to him about the run game because he’s so involved in that.
"What Fesi and I bring is what we’ve done in the past. Sometimes they’ve said, ‘Hey, that’s great, let’s try that.’ Sometimes Grimey’s said, ‘No, we ain’t gonna do that.’ He’s said that about 50 times," Clark continued. "The chemistry is, when they say, ‘We ain’t doing that,’ there are no bad feelings because we know each other; we know the best interests of the team are being addressed.”
“Now he’s smarter than me and I really don’t like that but I’m very proud of him,” said Clark. “He knows it all, from the O-line to quarterback reads to progressions to what the receivers are supposed to do. He has an innate ability to motivate and help the players.
"He has a great personality and I’d say that’s his greatest strength. He can get after them, but he can also lift them up. He is very contagious. He can make me laugh all day long and it’s pretty juvenile. ... We talk about anything because we’ve been through so much. There’s nothing that can happen that we haven’t seen, we’ve been through it all.”
Roderick is a person Clark has talked to and learned from for years. “He’s been through a lot, knows a lot. He’s been in the Pac-12. He is smart,” said Clark.
There is a group of BYU fans who haven’t warmed up to A-Rod yet because he was a Utah coach whom Kyle Whittingham fired.
“Well,” answered Clark, “Bill Belichick got fired by the Cleveland Browns. He can’t coach either and he’s the greatest in the game. Everybody gets fired. If you’re holding that against him, you don’t like almost any coach out there.
"Most coaches out there who’ve been successful, people say stuff about. But A-Rod’s, just saying ‘Give me a shot, let me prove myself.' "
Roderick asked Clark the other day how he did things at SUU, how he did things at Weber State, and then he said, “This is how we did it at Utah.”
And the back and forth goes on from there. Experience.
“All I know is when we get out of that meeting room, we have a consensus, we are on the same page,” said Clark.
In Thursday’s full-pad practice, one thing that stood out about the offense was the emotion, and Clark said it all began with the offensive linemen. “That’s Grimes, he’s brought that.”
Fesi Sitake said it’s been humbling to be around Roderick and Clark.
“A-Rod recruited me and coached me as coordinator at SUU. When I got back from my mission, Clark was the coordinator, coached me for three years, and hired me and became my boss as I coached.”
Sitake said the relationship is a brotherhood.
“I love them so much. I respect them so much. It’s been humbling to me to have them inquire about some of my opinions. Everything I’ve done the last two years at Weber has pieces of those two in it, then some of my own.
Sitake said even though he is young in the profession, he’s seen enough of how things just don’t work with egos.
“That’s the biggest thing," he said. "I’ve been in situations when coaches get together and talk and there are some hidden agendas. Some people speak with a walking-on-eggshells approach because they are afraid how things will be perceived or taken. But with us, and it goes across to the other coaches, we can literally say anything without any worry something will be taken out of context because we know who each person is to their core.”
In a Thursday interview with 1280 The Zone, Roderick confirmed what Grimes predicted he’d do the day he was hired in December. Said Roderick, “This is as good of a staff as I’ve ever been a part of.”
Roderick said he knew it would be a good fit.
“It has been fun to come to work and know you have to be on your toes and know that everybody in the room is really good and knows what they’re doing. You don’t ever want to be exposed or underprepared so it's really kept me sharp in trying to keep on top of what we’re doing.”
Roderick called Grimes "a real pro.”
It’s an amigo’s life — with amigos.
Such is the Ides of March life of a new offensive coaching staff who is 0-0 and in the thick of spring.