After getting blasted by conference foe Air Force 58-7, Hawaii announced the firing of head coach Norm Chow. The former BYU offensive coordinator had an abysmal 10-36 record as a head coach and after a 2-7 start to the season ,athletic director David Matlin decided to make a change.
To find their next head coach, there is a good chance that Hawaii could replace a former BYU offensive coordinator with the current BYU offensive coordinator.
Robert Anae, who is in his 9th season as BYU offensive coordinator, could be considered a top candidate for the job in Hawaii.
Why Robert Anae makes sense
Obviously this is a perfect cultural fit for both parties. Anae was born and raised in Hawaii and started his coaching career with the Rainbow Warriors back in 1986 as a graduate assistant. It would be a homecoming for Anae and it's clear that Hawaii needs someone who can connect with the Polynesian community in order to be successful.
In terms of X's and O's, Anae would be a quality hire. While there are many BYU fans that are often disgruntled with BYU's offensive performance, Anae has been instrumental in helping the Cougars return to offensive success, not once but twice. In his first stint at BYU, he helped bring back a spread passing attack that lead the Cougars to four consecutive top-25 finishes. When he returned in 2013, the offense came to life after a couple of dormant years. He might not have the highest approval rating but neither does any other offensive coordinator in the country.
One key factor that might make Anae a smart option is money. It was reported that the Hawaii athletic department was expected to be in 3.8 - 4 million dollars in debt by the end of the fiscal year. They probably didn't help their cause by firing Chow before his contract ended in December of 2016 (the buyout is projected around $300k). If Hawaii were to come after Anae, they wouldn't have to break the bank to get him under contract. There isn't any public information on what BYU pays their coaching staff but it's safe to assume that they don't shell out top dollar for their assistant coaches. If Anae isn't pulling a high end OC paycheck, a low-end heading coaching salary wouldn't be a deterrent.
Why Hawaii won't come calling
The athletic department at Hawaii might have some reservations in bringing in someone without any head coaching experience as that seemed to backfire with the hire of Chow. He had an impressive resume as an offensive coordinator but never was able to put it together as the head job. Even Chow predecessor, Greg McMackin, was a promoted coordinator with very little head coaching experience (he was the head coach at Oregon Tech for four seasons). Hawaii might be best served by going the route they took to get June Jones by finding an NFL assistant who wants an extended tropical vacation. Calling it a vacation is probably the wrong sentiment because whoever takes on this job will be in for a challenge but a challenge in Hawaii is probably more fun than just about anywhere else.
In addition to his lack of experience, Robert doesn't put off the vibe that he wants to be the guy in charge. He isn't particularly warm and is often abrasive with the media. He personality is better suited for a coordinator position where he doesn't have a microphone in his face on a regular basis. There is a chance that he could embrace the position and step up as leader of the program but it's likely that he would stick with his curmudgeonly ways.
Also, Hawaii might want to hire someone a younger coach that can make some noise in recruiting. Norm Chow was in his 60's when he was hired and Robert Anae would be in that age range. The athletic department hasn't mentioned any specifics in regards to what they are looking for in a new coach but they will need someone who can breathe life back into the program. They might find it hard to see Dr Bob bringing that level of energy.
Should Anae leave, who would BYU hire?
This is where the real fun begins for the BYU fans reading this article because who doesn't love some good ole fashioned unfounded speculation?
Bronco seems to be a big fan of promoting from within to fill a vacancy so he would select a current position coach to step up. Of the current coaches the most likely candidates would be offensive line coach Garett Tujague and quarterbacks coach Jason Beck. Tujague has worked wonders in turning around an offensive line unit was struggling prior to his arrival. He also has year of experience as a head coach at the JUCO level, most of which were successful, showing he can coach above his current position.
Beck has also done a masterful job in helping turn Taysom Hill into an efficient passer and assisting Tanner Mangum as he took on the starting job. Prior to BYU Beck was the offensive coordinator at a small school in Canada where he helped a struggling offense go from worst to first in passing and scoring offense.
If BYU were to go outside of the program, the most interesting possibility would be Steve Sarkisian. The former BYU quarterback is currently in rehab for alcohol abuse after being fired from USC. If there was ever a place for a coach to bounce back after fall like that, it's BYU. He would be in a familiar place, where the culture of drinking is non-existent. His personal struggles aside, Sark is a heck of a recruiter that has a great track record as an OC. Odds are that Bronco wouldn't bring him right away to take the reigns as an OC but even having him join the staff as a QB coach with Beck as the OC would be fascinating.
Someone who BYU would definitely NOT hire? Gary Crowton. No explanation needed.