In what might be the strangest move in Utah college sports since, well, any time in history, BYU has re-hired offensive coordinator Robert Anae, the same guy who resigned two years ago.
Cue the boo birds.
Everybody deserves a second chance to get their walking papers, right?
This move clearly illustrates that BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall has now admitted he made a mistake by letting Anae go in the first place, in 2010. And it also reiterates that Bronco may not have a clue in the zoo about offense.
Here is Bronco's statement the day Anae left, in 2010:
“I have tremendous respect for Robert Anae,” BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said in a press release. “Robert is extremely loyal and trustworthy and a man of principle, faith and character. I appreciate all he has done for our program and for me personally the past six years. I consider him a dear friend.”
Sounds like goodbye to anyone who reads it, right?
Even more so when you look at what Anae said back almost two years ago to the day.
“I have decided to resign at BYU and look forward to taking on the next chapter in my life and career..." - Anae
The next chapter, apparently, was roughly 24 games at Arizona under Mike Stoops and Rich Rodriguez as the Wildcats' offensive line coach and run game coordinator.
Now, since the reason Anae was supposedly forced out the door was because the Cougars offense had become lame and needed a helping hand -- you wonder why he's back in Provo.
Two years ago, Brandon Doman was supposed to be the savior. But even he clearly has not been capable of getting the BYU offense back to where it was under LaVell. For that matter, nobody has.
So what changes now that Anae is back at his alma mater after two years? In golf, you get a mulligan for this sort of thing. In basketball, you get a job as a TV analyst and in college football, well, these days this sort of thing never happens.
So kudos to Bronco in his own inimitable, special way for being a pioneer and trend setter trying to fix something with a guy who reportedly was part of the reason the offense was so bad in the first place.
“I am excited to announce Robert Anae as BYU’s offensive coordinator,” said Mendenhall yesterday in a statement. “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 will hope to return BYU to where it was under his tutelage, when the Cougars averaged over 30 points per game in 2009 and 2010. By comparison Doman's offense scored just 27 per outing over a similar two-year span in 2011 and 2012.
Even still, the numbers are close enough to wonder why the Cougars went back to Anae, which is essentially more of the same -- unless Anae is bringing over some of the new tricks and schemes he learned in that one year at Arizona under Rich Rod.
When you consider that Anae coached on an offensive staff at Arizona that was ranked in the top 25 in passing both years -- his O-line making holes for Ka'Deem Carey, the nation's leading rusher -- you wonder if things might change.
But when you look at the Cougars' rushing totals under Doman in comparison to Anae, you actually see that Doman's numbers in 2009-10 (313.5 total rush yards) are so similar to those of Anae over a two year span (313.8) that it's frightening.
Yet Doman will now be relegated to quarterbacks coach and Anae will take Doman's place. Ah, never a dull moment in Provo.
Then there's the BYU passing game, the much-maligned, oft-confusing facet of the offense that Anae now comes in to oversee. And yes, before you ask, Anae is the same guy who first came back to the Cougars from the Mike Leach-led Texas Tech Red Raiders in 2004.
At the time Anae arrived in Provo with the same promises that the Cougars offense would operate like Leach's high-octane attack did.
In other words, Cougar fans have heard this all before.
But will it be different this time around? BYU has a rising star in sophomore quarterback Taysom Hill, who while he was healthy seemed to have a better handle on the Cougars offense than Riley Nelson ever did.
Of course, the person in the end who saved BYU's bacon was none other than senior QB James Lark, a player who before was buried on the bench behind the now-departed Jake Heaps and Nelson himself.
Would Anae have turned to Lark earlier? After all, Doman was a run-happy QB at BYU, a departure from many of the Cougar greats and Anae did have some success with John Beck and a slew of great tight ends and wide receivers.
All Cougar fans will have to do now is wait and see if Anae is the answer. But for someone who has already been in this position it's unfortunate there are more questions about him than answers.