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BYU football: Notes from Kalani Sitake's introductory press conference as head coach

The following is an unofficial transcript of BYU's introductory press conference for Kalani Sitake as head football coach.

Still of BYUtv's broadcast

Tom Holmoe opening statement

Kalani will bring back that BYU football pride. We're so excited for this man. He's a tremendous football coach, but I've known him for a long time. The one thing that comes out so much when you talk to him is his humility. He's a great man.

We haven't been together for many days, but we talk about things like we were teammates in the same backfield. We see eye to eye.

This is a leader right here, to listen to the way he communicates with players is so exciting. In the short time we've been together, it's been great to see him on the phone talking to recruits and current players.

Kalani Sitake opening statement

It's great to be back. I've enjoyed my journey and it's great to be back home.

(Thanked Worthen and Holmoe for believing in him and sharing his vision for the program.)

This is overwhelming for me, I feel the support from so many people and it's humbling.

We have a lot of outstanding, talented and driven young men on this team. This is about them, I know I'm the head coach, but this is about them.

I see a lot of great former teammates and brothers here today. I know the importance of being able to learn from great men like LaVell Edwards and other people surrounding BYU.

Media question and answer

(journey of process getting the job)

My relationship with Tom has been great. I've enjoyed every part of it, I'm thankful for the way it ended. Just to be in the mix with the names out there ... I'm a BYU guy, so this is exciting for me. It's going to be awesome.

(staff and o and d theory)

We're going to have a staff that's going to be able to recruit, and what's the best thing for these players. Looking forward to getting the right guys who know what we're about at BYU, but it's going to be a  longer process than just right now.

Recruiting is everything in football, it's important to recruit good young men who fit what we're doing at BYU. Having lived the BYU life as a student-athlete, I can relate to that.

(was it always in the back of the mind to return to BYU?)

I was doing that when I was 8 years old. I was always asking why Leon White wasn't blitzing more, why doesn't Vai Sikahema get the ball more. Anyone who bleeds blue, that's just how you live. I'm going to work together with my players, we want to be entertaining and there are things I learned as a player and coach, but it's important to keep rolling with the success we've had here.

I want to be great in everything. If you strive to do that, the rest will follow.

(how will the offense look?)

We're going to be a balanced team. We're going to run the ball, throw the ball and try not to punt as much. On defense, we'll be aggressive. That's what we'll hang our hat on. We need to own the trenches. (Said more details will come as he pieces together the team's identity through the coaching staff.)

(thoughts on independence)

I've watched Tom put together the schedule and I've been really impressed with the schedule we have. The opportunity we have to go against these teams, I'm fired up for it. If we keep having schedules like this, yeah, let's do it.

(Tom - Explain process of hiring Kalani)

The process began earlier in the week talking with many premier LDS coaches in the country. Through that process, I learned how these men saw our program and what their vision was. It was interesting to see how it felt from legitimate LDS coaches. I was able to learn things from their eyes I didn't know. The most important thing is this guy right here is our head coach and that's what it comes down to. We've already had discussions about things we want to address. There are things in this program that will stay the same. Some things we'll bring back, some have been a common thread from LaVell all the way to Kalani. Some things will be new. We're going to take the good and add to it.

(Will you be defensive coordinator?)

That's still being decided. I am a defensive-minded coach, but if you're a great fan you knew I played offensive side as a fullback. I plan on being to help both sides and establish our staff and figure out who makes playcalls, that will be figured out. My job is to get the best recruiters out there and go from there.


I was impressed with the fight of our young men. It was fun to watch, I was impressed with the guys and saw a lot of leaders take control of the game.

(taking over for LaVell)

I've talked to Coach Edwards quite a bit, I'm going to lean on him heavily. I'm thankful for LaVell and everything he's done for me. He helped motivate me to go on a mission.

(how many phone calls you have made to players, recruits, staff?)

There's a lot. I look forward to building relationships with each young man on this team. I've reached out to many of them, but I look forward to learning who they are as people. That will be huge for my role as a coach. Recruiting never stops, so I've been recruiting since I became the coach.

(seen rivalry from both sides - BYU is on a losing streak)

That's the second game, so I'm not focused on that game --- but you don't have to say much about the rivalry. I had an older brother play at Utah. The rivalry speaks for itself. It's fun. Being on the other side, there are a lot of similarities. I look forward to building good sportsmanship with competition. But streaks are meant to be broken and I look forward to getting that done.

(on his age)

It's great to be young again. When I turned 40 I thought I was old, so now I'm a head coach I'm young again so thank you for that.

I've had really good men around me as coaches. From an organizational standpoint, I've been able to learn a lot from Kyle Whittingham and Gary Andersen, and I'm proud to be part of that coaching tree, which comes from LaVell Edwards.

(recruiting against Utah)

BYU's a special place. When I look kids in the eyes, I'm living proof that it's a special place. I'm going to build on that. Good things can happen when you go here. Recruits, get ready, I'm going to look you in the eyes and tell you. I played here, I lived this life. I met my wife here. So let's wrap this up so I can go talk to those young men.


Tom: It's critically important to put together the right staff. We feel good about the direction we're going. This is daily, multiple conversations about what we can do.

I've had incredible experiences with first year coaches. I had that experience, being a first-year head coach without having that experience and didn't really do well. And that will benefit Kalani.

The qualities of leadership, personality, the way he loves kids are going to give him an advantage. He'll have to learn through experiences, he and his staff, me and my staff and all of Cougar Nation will be there for him. That will take away those issues.

(what was your vision you sold to Worthen and Holmoe)

The experiences I had here as a young man, the culture we had and the brotherhood and the atmosphere. I want to embrace all of BYU, the good things Bronco Mendenhall did.

(we know you're a nice guy and all, but what's your coaching style?)

I'm going to be myself. I've got a mean streak in me, but it's about passion. I'm excited, I'm more positive than anything. I want to see them excel, so I'm going to help them do that in any way I can. Humility and meekness are important, but there are times to get nasty and tough. We'll make a lot of people proud of the way we play on and off the field.

(first time being the face of the program, what's that like?)

It's been great, but it's been humbling. I've received support from so many people, so that's humbling. I want to take this thing and run with it, I want to get to work and get going. I'm fired up, let's go.

(First Tongan head coach)

I'm proud of my heritage and where I come from. But I'm also proud of being a member of the LDS church, I'm proud of being a good person and friend. I'm proud of my coaching ability that I've learned from a lot of friends. I just happen to be Tongan, which I am also proud of.

(timeline for assistants?)

As soon as possible. This here is taking me away from that, I want to get to work.

(differences between then as a player and now as a coach)

Still getting a feel for it. I saw some of the things Bronco Mendenhall did, and he did a lot of good things here. So I can't really say, but I'm going to put into place a culture I know will work.

(have you talked to Bronco, and what has he told you?)

I have spoken with him. What we've talked about is kinda between me and him, but as I establish myself in the program we'll see what I can implement.

(priority of goals on the field)

I want to win. I want to get our guys to function at our best. There are a lot of great players here. They're used to winning here. I'm looking forward to continuing that tradition.