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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Remembering Anae: not all bad, not all good

The BYU website and Salt Lake Tribune reported this morning that OC Robert Anae's departure from the program has become official. Anae was the offensive coordinator and inside receivers coach for the Cougars from 2005 to 2010.

The news comes a few weeks after rumors leaked that Bronco Mendenhall had told his entire offensive coaching staff to start looking for new jobs.

Bloggers, commentators, and message boards had long been critical of Anae, though Mendenhall had publicly supported Anae. In the official press release, Mendenhall called Anae a dear friend and commended him for his service at BYU. Anae was likewise gracious in his departure, thanking BYU for opportunity to coach at his alma mater. Rumors are now floating that Anae could be joining Mike Leach, his former boss at Texas Tech before coming to BYU, at Maryland.

Big Bro's thoughts: While I have never kept my dislike for Anae's handling of the offense secret, I wish him the best and thank him for what he has accomplished at BYU. Four straight 10 win seasons is no small accomplishment, especially after the nightmare Crowton years.

However, most of BYU's success in the Anae era (and I call it that tongue in cheek) came despite Anae's efforts, not because of them. This can be seen in several examples:

1. Anae's marquee win against Oklahoma in 2009. One common critique of Anae has been that he couldn't win the big games. The biggest win during his tenure came against the Sooners, but the offense was hardly the reason for the victory. Though they passed for 357 yards (against a relatively weak Sooner secondary), it committed 4
turnovers and managed only 28 yards rushing. The undisputed credit for the win is attributed to the defense which held Oklahoma to 265 total yards and knocked Sam Bradford out of the game in the first half.

2. The classic wins against Utah in 2006, 2007, and 2009. Every Cougar fan remembers these instant classics, but the victories are once again not attributable to Anae. All three of these games were won on last-minute heroics by quarterbacks Max Hall and John Beck, coached by none other than Brandon Doman, Anae's presumable replacement.

3. The 2010 turnover-on-downs against Utah. In a game where points were at a premium, Anae elected to go for it on 4th down instead of kick the field goal. We all know how that turned out.

4. 2007 UCLA double-header. Isn't it interesting that in 2007 when the Cougars faced UCLA twice - once in the preseason and once in the Las Vegas Bowl - the Cougars scored an identical 17 points against the Bruins' defense? Bronco was successful in making defensive adjustments, holding the Bruins to 16 points in the LV Bowl after allowing 27 in the early loss, but Anae was unable to bring the offense up to snuff.

All of BYU's failures are not Anae's fault, but the fact remains that he has not been able to bring BYU over the hump. Though it has finished the season ranked 4 times during Anae's stint, BYU has been forced to watch from the sidelines while TCU and Utah have made multiple BCS appearances.

With so much young talent and the prospect of independence looming, now is the time for BYU to hire an OC who will bring BYU to elite status.

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