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BYU football assistants: Will they stay or will they go?

With Bronco heading east to take the reigns at UVA, there will most definitely be a shakeup with the whole coaching staff. We examine which coaches are likely to leave (to UVA or elsewhere) or stick around in Provo.

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They say that the only certainty in life in change and that is most certainly the case for the BYU Football program. Just how much change is still a mystery to us all.

Bronco Mendenhall is heading to Virginia to take the head coaching position and has already mentioned that he plans on taking a few of his assistants from BYU along with him. The obvious speculation that has already been circulated is he will take the majority of his defensive staff. Nothing has been made official and it likely won't be until BYU names their new head coach. Some coaches (Anae, Poppinga) might be looking for promotions at BYU before they take a similar position at UVA.

There are a lot of factors at play for each of these guys but a few of the apply to almost all of these coaches.

1) Money - When Bronco signed his fat new contract to the tune of $3.24 million, it was made clear that a school like UVA has a lot more money to offer for BYU at every coaching position. Obviously, a coordinator at BYU might make more than a position coach at UVA but I think it's safe to say that in general, assistant coaches will make a lot more money in Virginia. Some of these coaches are journeymen that have bounced around tiny junior colleges in hopes of catching a big break. The ACC is a bigger stage and if they make a good impression there are a

2) Recruiting - One of the things that could prevent Bronco from bringing a huge chunk of his current staff would be recruiting. As of right now, he has a staff that is familiar with the western half in the United State in terms of recruiting. They might sign an LDS kid from the east coast every once in a while, it's definitely off the beaten BYU recruiting path. It would behoove Bronco to add a few coaches that know the area fairly well.

3) Family - Most coaches and their families are of the understanding that their lives can change at the end of every season, however, many would prefer to stay put if given the opportunity. Steve Kaufusi has a couple kids that are playing / will be playing at BYU for a couple more years and Jason Beck just twins. I'd be willing to wager that they want to stay in Provo, but then again money can be very persuasive.

4) New Head Coach - Just because they want to stay in Provo doesn't always mean they get to. A new head coach generally means a new slew of assistants that will implement the offensive and defensive philosophies. There is a chance that some coaches have made such an impression that the new boss will see them as an invaluable holdover.

So with all of these factors in play, which coaches will go and which ones will stay? Let's take a look.


Nick Howell

Current Position: Defensive Coordinator / Secondary

Years at BYU: 2010-present

Odds that he is back at BYU next year: 5%

There's no "sure thing" when it comes to the coaching carousel, but I think it's safe to say that Howell is going to follow Bronco to Charlottesville. Nick got his start in college coaching with Bronco and hasn't left his side yet. Bronco is also one of Howell's biggest advocates. In 2014, Howell took the lead role as defensive coordinator and there was a noticeable drop-off in performance. Even after the rocky defensive season, Bronco praised Howell and continued to say that he would be a very successful coach in the future. It's not that Nick necessarily needs a fresh start, but he could definitely benefit from going to a new program with a clean slate.

Steve Kaufusi

Current Position: Defensive Line Coach

Years at BYU: 2002-present

Odds that he is back at BYU next year: 90%

Good ole Steve finds himself in quite the interesting situation. His oldest son Bronson is finishing up his senior year, Corbin is in the midst of his second season with the basketball program and Devin signed a letter of intent to play football for the Cougars when he returns home from his mission. If it was up to Steve I'm sure he would love to stay in Provo for the rest of his career to watch Corbin and coach Devin. Since this decision isn't exactly up to him, who knows. I don't see him packing up and moving east with Bronco simply because his family seems to be fairly established in Provo. He's also at a point in his career where he probably isn't interested in bouncing around the country trying to advance in the coaching game. If there is a spot for Steve under the new regime, he's staying.

Paul Tidwell

Current Position: Inside Linebackers Coach

Years at BYU: 2000 - present

Odds that he is back at BYU next year: 30%

Tidwell is probably the hardest to predict simply because he's been at BYU since the LaVell days (his first season was LaVell's last) which is pretty crazy if you think about it. Paul has also made some moves since arriving in Provo. He went from coaching the running backs and serving as the recruiting coordinator, to coaching special teams, to coaching the inside linebackers. I don't get the sense that he's a "wherever Bronco goes, I'll go" like I do with Howell, but I could see him showing loyalty to Bronco for keeping him on staff through the years. He doesn't have the visible personality like some of the other assistants, but he's definitely respected.

Kelly Poppinga

Current Position: Outside Linebackers Coach

Years at BYU: 2009-present

Odds that he is back at BYU next year: 30%

In addition to Howell, Kelly seems like a true Bronco disciple. Having played and coached under Bronco's 3-4 defense, he understands more than just about anyone how things work in that defensive scheme. The only way I see Kelly sticking around is if he is promoted to defensive coordinator. A lot of the players that are currently on BYU's roster and in the recruiting pipeline are tailored specifically for the 3-4 defense. If the new head coach wanted to maintain consistency, keeping Poppinga on staff might be the best option. He's a high-energy guy who has coached BYU's most important defensive position the past couple of years. That being said, I'm almost certain Bronco is offering him a job at UVA. The question is, will he have a better offer for him in Provo.


Robert Anae

Current Position: Offensive Coordinator, Assistant Head Coach

Years at BYU: 2013-present, 2005-2010

Odds that he is back at BYU next year: 50%

Based on the latest batch of rumors, it seems as if Dr. Bob is being considered for the head coaching vacancy. We've detailed why this might make sense for BYU, but there are also those that think despite his relative success as an offensive coordinator, he isn't head coaching material. If Anae is really gunning for the top spot, I have a hard time seeing him back if he doesn't get the position. There are a lot of fans clamoring for Kalani Sitake as the head coach and that he retain the entire offensive staff including Anae. While that would be a fantastic scenario for all parties involved, something tells me that Robert wouldn't jive with that scenario. Just try to imagine really gunning for a promotion at work only to find out they're going to hire someone outside of the company who is significantly younger than you. Also, see Norm Chow.

Mark Atuaia

Current Position: Running Backs Coach

Years at BYU: 2013-present

Odds that he is back at BYU next year: 40%

Of all these coaches, Atuaia is probably the one who wants to stay at BYU the most (well maybe him and Steve Kaufusi). The dude bleeds blue and from what I gather coaching at BYU has been his lifelong dream. The only way I see Mark leaving is if the new head coach decides not to retain him. Even then, I wouldn't be surprised if Mark tried to get a position somewhere else in the athletic department where he worked before coaching. On a personal level, I would be highly disappointed if he left because national signing day would be infinitely less entertaining.

Jason Beck

Current Position: Quarterbacks Coach

Years at BYU: 2013-present

Odds that he is back at BYU next year: 80%

The former quarterback has really started to turn some heads in the last couple of seasons as he groomed Taysom Hill into an efficient passer and helped Tanner Mangum go from awkward returned missionary to the nationals best Freshman football player. It helps that he has been given two incredibly talented players at the position but when you consider the amount of focus and attention that is given to the quarterback position, Beck's guys have performed very well under the microscope. Not only have the players under his tutelage performed well but they also seem to give him high praise. Having some consistency at a the quarterback position during this season of change definitely wouldn't hurt.

Guy Holliday

Current Position: Wide Receivers Coach

Years at BYU: 2013-present

Odds that he is back at BYU next year: 70%

I would hope that Tom Holmoe has already reached out to Guy, expressing his desire to keep him on the staff because Guy has been a fantastic addition to the offensive staff in the last couple of years. He does a fantastic job representing a non-LDS perspective and helping bring those athletes to BYU. Since Robert Anae was the one who brought Guy to BYU there is a good chance that Holliday will follow Bob if were to go to UVA or somewhere else. Guy has been quite vocal on social media about how much he loves the football program in Provo and everything it stands for. We'll see if that passion (and his recruiting prowess) is enough to keep him at BYU.

Garett Tujague

Current Position: Offensive Line Coach

Years at BYU: 2013-present

Odds that he is back at BYU next year: 50%

The entire offensive staff is tough to predict because a lot of them are closely tied to Robert Anae. When Dr. Bob came back to the program in 2013 he cleaned house and brought in an entirely new staff, including Garett Tujague. The former BYU lineman has done a fantastic job revamping what was a terrible offensive front. While the run blocking has some room for improvement, the pass protection for Tanner Mangum this season has been stellar. Just like a lot of the offensive coaches, he has proved his worth as a quality position coach. If Tujague isn't back with BYU next season it's not because of poor job performance.