Is Kalani Sitake a potential candidate for the Arizona State job?
Herm Edwards was fired by ASU on Sunday, and two national experts suggested BYU’s coach or USU’s Blake Anderson could be his replacement
BYU coach Kalani Sitake was mentioned by a pair of well-known national media outlets as a potential candidate to replace Herm Edwards as Arizona State’s coach.
Edwards was fired by ASU Sunday, the day after the Sun Devils lost to MAC program Eastern Michigan.
Sitake, who’s led the Cougars to Top 25 finishes and double-digit wins each of the past two seasons, agreed to a “new, unprecedented” contract extension with BYU last December that would keep him at the school through the 2027 season.
He has guided BYU to a 50-30 record since taking over the program in the 2016 season. Sitake has the Cougars out to a 2-1 record this season — BYU was ranked No. 12 before losing to Oregon 41-20 on Saturday.
BYU is set to join the Big 12 next summer, opening a new era of Power Five inclusion for the Cougars.
“Before the Big 12 added BYU, Sitake certainly would look at a job like Arizona State as an obvious upgrade. Now it’s not as clear-cut,” Rittenberg wrote. “BYU has rewarded Sitake with more salary and security, and the Cougars’ program is rolling as it nears entry into the Big 12 in 2023.
“Sitake, 46, would be an absolute steal for ASU. He’s 23-5 since the start of the 2020 season and would bring a tough-minded identity and stability to the program that fans would appreciate. Sitake also has recruited the region for his entire career.”
It’s not the first time Sitake’s name has been mentioned when a Power Five coaching job has opened — last year, Sitake reportedly talked to Oregon about its head coaching vacancy before the Ducks ultimately chose Dan Lanning as their new head coach.
“BYU head coach Kalani Sitake has been in the mix for other Pac-12 jobs in recent years. He’s 23-5 in the past two-plus seasons and turned the Cougars back into a Top 25 program. But he just signed a long-term extension last December, and BYU heads to the Big 12 next season. He’d be a strong hire for ASU, but is he even interested?” Vannini asked.
Edwards took over at Arizona State in 2018 and the Sun Devils went 25-18 under the former longtime NFL coach, with three bowl appearances (1-2 record).
The program has been overshadowed over the past year, though, by an ongoing NCAA investigation that ASU hosted recruits during the recruiting dead period from March 2020 to June 2021 that came about because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Edwards is the second Power Five coach to be fired so far in the 2022 season, joining Nebraska’s Scott Frost.
Is Utah State’s Blake Anderson a candidate for the Arizona State coach job?
Sitake wasn’t the only Utah tie being mentioned as a possible candidate for ASU’s coaching vacancy.
Both Vannini and Rittenberg brought up Utah State second-year coach Blake Anderson. Anderson led Utah State to its first Mountain West Conference championship last season, as well as a bowl win over Oregon State, after a successful stint as Arkansas State’s coach.
The Aggies are off to a 1-2 start to the season, though, including a loss to Weber State a week ago.
“Would he leave in his second season? He’s eyed Power 5 jobs,” Vannini wrote.
“The Aggies’ 1-2 start doesn’t help, and Anderson likely would need to turn things around with a tough road ahead. But a Mountain West championship and a No. 24 AP finish in 2021 should help Anderson, 53, who is 63-42 as an FBS coach at Arkansas State and Utah State,” Rittenberg wrote.
“... ASU might not have many options with Anderson’s credentials and experience as a head coach.”
What other Utah ties are being mentioned for the Arizona State coach job?
Other Utah ties mentioned for the vacancy by national experts include former BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall, former Utah assistant Dan Mullen and former BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes.
On Mendenhall: “He’s a defensive coach, but Virginia had one of the most explosive passing offenses in the country in his final years. He stepped away from Virginia on his own but made sure to say it wasn’t a retirement,” Vannini wrote.
On Mullen: “Arizona State needs an identity. Mullen, with his offensive chops, would be that identity. Yes, he’s quirky. Maybe more than that. But as currently structured, Mullen could win the Pac-12. Soon,” wrote CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd.
On Grimes: “Grimes, 53, spent three seasons as Arizona State’s offensive line coach early in his career and worked in the region at both Colorado and BYU. He’s an excellent line coach who has grown into the playcalling role and should be ready to lead his own program soon,” Rittenberg wrote.