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The case for hiring Lance Anderson as the next BYU head coach

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Lance Anderson, one of the nation's best recruiters and defensive minds, would be a major coup for BYU football if he were to become the next head coach.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Stanford football is currently in their greatest era in its long, 124-year history. The Cardinal have won three Pac-12 Championships in the past four season, produced four Heisman trophy finalists in the past seven seasons, played in a BCS/New Year's Six Bowl game five of the past six seasons and finished in ranked in the Top 10 in three of the past five (in 2013 they finished 11th). They are well on their way to another top 10 finish this seasons. But it wasn't always this way.

In 2006, Stanford went 1-11. It was their worst season in 23 years.


In 2007, Jim Harbaugh left his position as head coach at the University of San Diego was hired by the Cardinal. Harbaugh brought along his friend, Lance Anderson. Anderson was the defensive line coach for the Torreros. The combo had led San Diego to a 20-2 record in their two seasons. Harbaugh immediately placed Lance Anderson as a position coach working with the defensive tackles. More importantly, Anderson was appointed as the recruiting coordinator for Stanford.

Anderson's work as a recruiter is amazing. The Stanford program has turned around in the record books without compromising the extreme importance they place on not only being the most academically stringent FBS team, but also leading the nation in graduation rate. Stanford football graduated 99 percent of its recruits. Anderson's efforts as recruiting coordinator have led to seven players named as 1st team All-Americans, and 30 players in the National Football League during his nine-year Stanford tenure. Stanford's recruiting classes have been ranked since 2008 at 16, 24, 23, 7, 57, 16, 25. They are currently ranked as having the 10th best class of 2016.

His recruiting prowess is so legendary there is even a 2014 Salt Lake Tribute article with the headline "Stanford's Lance Anderson a bane to Utah's in-state recruiting." The article details how the University of Utah doesn't like when they recruit against Lance Anderson. In particular, the recruits in the state of Utah because they will lose more than they win. In 2012, Scout named Lance Anderson "National Recruiter of the Year."

Furthermore, Anderson was subsequently appointed as the admissions liaison for the football team. A position that requires Anderson to work with the Stanford admissions office to provide help and understanding concerning the academic standards and needs of recruits. When it comes to academic excellence at Stanford, there is no compromise. Even if it means certain top recruits won't be able to qualify. This is the mission of Stanford University. Anderson has been tasked with upholding this mission and has done so with excellence. Since being named admissions liaison, Anderson and Stanford have been honored every season with the Academic Achievement Award from the American Football Coaches Association after posting a 100 percent graduation rate.

This role as admissions liaison has undoubtedly served to prepare Anderson for the administrative responsibilities found within the admissions process at BYU -- along with the importance of advocating the added qualifications of BYU's Honor Code.

He's always been a phenomenal recruiter, and he's always been a great communicator with the players. He always wore 10 different hats, but when you sat down and talked defense with him, you realized he know the game inside and out.

-- Stanford head coach David Shaw

As Stanford won more games, its coaches moved on to different positions. Lance Anderson was promoted first to coach outside linebackers, then as the director of defense -- Stanford's fancy way of saying defensive coordinator. He was appointed director of defense in 2014.

The 2014 defense was excellent. Stanford faced six ranked opponents in that seasons and finished the seasons 2nd nationally in scoring defense (16.4 points/game), 3rd in total defense (282.4 yards/game), 7th in rush defense (104.5 yards/game), 8th in pass defense (177.9 yards/game),  and 6th in QB sacks (46). SB Nation's Bill Connelly S&P+ defensive ranking had the Cardinal as college football's 5th best defense.

2015's defense has digressed from maintaining every main category in the top 10. Having played 4 ranked opponents this season, Stanford currently rank 38th in scoring defense (23.1 points/game), 50th in total defense (374.5 yards/game), 44th in rush defense (144.9 yards/game), and 71st in pass defense (227.6 yards/game). Bill Connelly S&P+ defensive ranking has Stanford is 54th.

The Cardinal made significant personnel position changes to piece together a secondary. Dallas Lloyd (a four-star LDS recruit from Pleasant Grove, Utah) switched to free safety from quarterback. Kodi Whitfield switched from a wide receiver (with one of the best catches you'll see) to strong safety. Plus, the injury bug has decimated the Stanford defensive line. Either way, Stanford did take a significant dip from 2014. Despite the dip, SB Nation Stanford Blog, Rule of Tree, wrote an article in November of this season accusing Lance Anderson of defensive sorcery.

A great recruiter, an accomplished football mind, BYU would be truly lucky to have Lance Anderson. Which is why I was perplexed when I read Jay Drew's report in the Salt Lake Tribune that "Lance Anderson told friends on Sunday he had yet to be contacted about the opening."

Anderson may be holding his cards close to the chest trying to stay out of the news while his team prepares for the Rose Bowl. So, barring Anderson's deception, it would be hard, if not impossible, to understand why Anderson wouldn't be contacted. Tom Holmoe has strong Bay Area ties. BYU fans are well aware of his three Super Bowl victories with the 49ers and his head coaching tenure with California. In addition, Holmoe's resume includes being the secondary coach at Stanford University. With the limited number of qualified candidates available for the BYU head coaching job, how one of the most high-profile candidates could go uncontacted is unfathomable.

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