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Anae Cleaning House and Reshaping Staff

15 January 2013 Brett Richins 35 Comments

Ben Cahoon (pictured above) and Joe DuPaix have been released as coaches at BYU (BYU photo).

The dismissal by BYU of wide receivers coach Ben Cahoon and and running backs coach Joe Dupaix on Monday is a clear sign that recently rehired offensive coordinator Robert Anae has pretty much been given full reign to put his guys in place as he assembles a new offensive staff.

It has been rumored for several days that Anae plans to hire former BYU running back Mark Atuaia as the new RB coach.

Autuia was hired as an assistant to Athletic Director Tom Holmoe this past summer after working as an assistant to the dean of Student Life at BYU.

Sources close to the situation have told Deep Shades of Blue for several weeks now to expect a change at running backs coach. Those sources have indicated that some of the running backs at BYU relied more on Lance Reynolds and volunteer Fau Tahi for their coaching this season than their own position coach.

One of those sources also told DSB that Dupaix’s presence on the staff was a significant factor in the transfer of former Cougar running back Josh Quezada. “Juice” left BYU prior to the start of fall camp this past season and eventually transferred to Fresno State–despite his recent conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The fact that Cahoon’s contract was not renewed was a bit more surprising.

Ben joined the staff prior to the 2011 season, along with Dupaix, following a stellar 13-year career as a receiver in the Canadian Football League. He took a group of players that had problems with dropping passes and turned them into a battalion of sticky-fingered pass catchers. His guys also regularly made impressive plays on the ball in an effort to make up for Riley Nelson’s inadequacies as a quarterback.

Nelson’s well-documented limitations as a passer makes it somewhat difficult to assess just how well Cahoon was performing in his job. However, it’s worth noting that Cody Hoffman blossomed during Cahoon’s short tenure and is poised to become the school’s all-time leader in receptions, yardage and touchdowns in 2013.

Slot receiver J.D. Falslev also came into his own over the past two seasons and developed into a reliable option in the BYU offense. The lone enigma among the wide receivers has been Ross Apo, who has yet to live up to his billing as a highly-touted recruit prior to his arrival in Provo.

It’s unclear who will replace Cahoon at this point, but expect Anae to look to someone with considerable coaching experience, something that Cahoon did not have coming into the job two years ago.

The fate of former offensive coordinator Brandon Doman is reportedly still up in the air. KSL Radio and BYU play-by-play voice Greg Wrubell was the first to report the dismissals of DuPaix and Cahoon on Tuesday, and also says that there is still a chance that Doman may return to the staff–presumably as the quarterbacks coach.

However, it seems much more likely that if Doman stays at BYU it will be in a capacity other than as a football coach. Anae has reportedly interviewed Sacramento State offensive coordinator Paul Petersen, Southern Utah offensive coordinator Steve Clark and former BYU quarterback Max Hall for the job of quarterbacks coach.

It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Clark or Petersen could also be named as the receivers coach if they are passed over for the quarterbacks job.

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35 Comments »

  • Gregory Lee said:

    I’m shocked to see Cahoon go. Just imagine our 2012 without the improvement in receivers actually catching the ball. That single trait was sadly missing in 2010 and 2011.

  • Gregory Lee said:

    *our record in 2012

  • Steve-inator said:

    I loved Cahoon since his “hands of mush” were catching passes at Ricks College. Wish him the best.

  • Alan Fullmer said:

    I am very disappointed in the decision to let Ben Cahoon go. Sounds like more of a personal conflict.

    I hope he lands on his feet. I’ve known him personally since my teens, and this is just shocking and saddening.

  • Bob Henstra said:

    Golly, since I had no say in the matter, I have no say in the matter! sure wish they’d hire Ty Detmer—–

  • John C. said:

    The bottom line for me is that the offensive side of the ball frequently terrible, and only occasionally did they perform anywhere near expectations. There were way too many “defensive struggles” this year that didn’t need to be. This year could have been great except for 4 games that should have been won had our offense been half decent.

    It is apparrent that a culture change is needed on offense, so if Anae feels like certain people are not helping with the culture, so be it. Hey, it can’t get much worse.

  • Brett Richins (author) said:

    Bob,

    Assuming Ty would even consider it, he would represent a huge threat to Anae if he were hired as QB coach. As soon as Anae had a game that didn’t meet expectations the cries would begin for Detmer to replace him.

  • Spamdawg said:

    I am shocked about Ben. I understand about Dupaix but Cahoon really made a difference. That said if I was the OC I would want my guys that are “fully invested” into my system. I really hope that Anae succeeds but if he doesn’t he can not complain about not having his guys. I’m all for a good shake up.

  • Cougarmania said:

    When Doman hired DuPaix I was shocked and I chalked it up to throwing your old High School buddy a bone and hire him to coach the RB’s. Then I saw him take over as recruiting coordinator, saw his enthusiasm for BYU football and saw RB’s like Williams develop and thought maybe he was the real deal. It appears, in light of the info in this article, that there are two sides to that coin. I think Cahoon’s impact was distinct and measurable. He clearly did an outstanding job with our receiving corps and turned a butterfingers group into a sticky fingers group. However, I really don’t think the dismissal of DuPaix or Cahoon were indictments of their work at BYU. I think Anae just wanted to pick his own guys he knew and trusted. I hope both land elsewhere soon because I think they are good coaches.

    I would love Anae to hire an African American coach with BYU ties and coaching experience. That may be a rare find but I know they are out there (maybe Dennis Simmons at WSU). I think having more minorities on the staff helps dispel the stigma that BYU is for white Mormon boys. I love the hiring of Mark Atuaia and think he will be an outstanding asset in recruiting Polynesian players. Half of a coaches worth is the ability to recruit players to the program and a minority coach helps minority players feel more comfortable.

  • Jeffrey said:

    The drama that is the BYU football team is getting too old. I am having a hard time with the soap opera that has been going on the past three years….. to me that is directly tied to the leadership and the leadership style that currently exists in the football dept. I sure hope these moves yield results, but more importantly I hope the drama dies down.

  • Pete Petersen said:

    @jeffery… Exactly Jeffery….. Couldn’t have said it better myself!… The high school prom date drama and trauma is very old… Just win already and all the crap dies down..Sheesh!

  • FL Cosmo said:

    Two things I don’t like about this:

    1 – Cutting loose Ben Cahoon. The guy was probably the most overachieving receiver BYU has ever had, and there was a marked improvement in the receivers this year despite no improvements at QB. I don’t really buy the experience argument for coaching the wideouts. It’s all about knowing and teaching proper technique, and Ben seems to have done a standout job. Best of luck to him.

    2 – Hiring Mark Atuia to RB coach. Love the guy, I met him as a kid back when he played in ’96. Anyone know what he’s been doing for the past 16 years other than working as Assistant to the Dean of Student Life that qualifies him to be a football coach?

    If we see problems down the road in these position groups I think Anae will look pretty foolish.

  • Seasider said:

    I knew Cahoon was on the way out when news broke of Anae returning as OC with full control of his staff. Back in 2005, Cahoon was one of many who interviewed for the receivers coach job but failed to impress Anae back then so it’s not surprising that he had the same opinion of Ben despite the evidence that the WRs did well under his coaching. But like others have said, it’s not personal it’s just Anae wanting to bring in his own guys which means he will be fully accountable on how the offense does in the next season or two.

    As for the new hires, like most fans I don’t know a whole lot about Garrett Tujague other than the fact it will take a while for us to get his last name pronounced correct. From this old video he seems like a coach who will stress hard work and effort which fits right in with Bronco’s philosophy.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Om_3Ijc4qrw

    As for Atuaia, Vai Sikahema in his 2 infamous Deseret News columns laid out of the case for Mark being a BYU coach. This was a couple of years ago when Autuaia was not hired after Doman got promoted. Those articles have mysteriously disappeared from the Desnews archives but I found this 3rd party link for one of them.

    http://candacesalima.blogspot.com/2011/02/vai-sikahema-byu-coaching-questions.html

    Atuaia’s main coaching experience was the years he spent as a volunteer assistant to the BYU offense. He was often caught on camera during games patting players on the back as they came off the field. The fact that he has worked under Bronco and Anae before should help him get quickly adjusted.

    One of the big questions right besides the unknown status of Doman is Dupaix was the recruiting coordinator and we’re right in the middle of the busy season with letter of intent day approaching. There’s no question coaching changes have an affect on recruiting and the challenge between now and LOI day will be to reassure BYU recruits that the future is still bright in Cougar nation.

  • Jared (the original) said:

    Having the opportunity to ref 7 on 7 camps at BYU I occasionally get to work with the staff, and sometimes though rarely, Bronco. I think the hiring of Cahoon was a good hire. I think his all out passion for excellence was real.

    It seems that there is a consensus that Bronco is a good D coach. We have had at least one game a year, if not more where the D gets scorched. I think he does excellent and having a top 10 D in the nation is admirable. But there still happens every year that game or two where he is just plain out coached. But perhaps he learns from his mistakes and they will become less and less.

    That being said, there is a lot of talk about Bronco knowing nothing about the O. If that is true, this move to Anae, and giving him so much control is the best way to go. If you are going to hold someone responsible for a task, they must be given the authority. If Anae was assigned the offense, and held accountable for it, and then was told who he had to work with and not given the authority to control it, it would not be a true accountability assessment.

    But in life that happens all the time. Responsibility is given, but the personnel to perform the task is assigned, thereby not giving a true test.

    Though I don’t like the idea of losing Cahoon, I can see the sense if Anae is going to be truly held accountable when the time comes to judge the outcome. I hope in the long run we get him back.

  • Josh said:

    @ FL Cosmo

    Mark was an assistant to Lance as a RB coach from 2005-2009. He’s more qualified than Dupaix by a long shot. From my sources, all the RB’s loved playing for him. He’ll be an excellent coach and maybe better recruiter.

    Josh

  • SoCal Cougar said:

    I have mixed feelings about the hires. I liked Cahoon and thought he did a great job with the receivers so I’m sorry to see him go.

    I was at first disappointed in the the hire of Atuaia as I didn’t know he had any experience and thought, here you go again with an inexperienced hiring. But if Josh is right and he has some experience, maybe that hire might work out.

    The hiring of Tajague is also interesting. He has experience, but it is all at the junior college level and all at one place. Wasn’t he an offensive line guy prior to being head coach? What position is he going to be coaching at BYU? Tight Ends?

    It seems like the two positions open are QB coach and WR coach. I can see the thought that Anae wants his guys, but Cahoon seemed to do a really good job the past two years in getting the WR to focus more.

    I clearly don’t have all the knowledge or insight into the new coaches and those interviewing, I just have to have faith in Bronco and Anae that they are making wise choices. I’m willing to support them fully through this and am looking forward to next year.

  • Bob Henstra said:

    Perfect reason for hiring Ty, the players have to push each other in order to play, Anae needs someone to push him- and Ty would be the perfect guy!

  • Realistic Optimist said:

    Well,
    Well, well, well, (Ben Cahoon), arguably the best coach on our staff has just been fired, (released). Enough said.

  • kevsdawg said:

    Bobby Anae is the man. Goodbie Cahoon Goodbie Dupaix boy. Time to make changes. I want Bronco out and Anae in. Hope we get some real playiers too.

  • Texas Fan said:

    As an outsider looking you really cannot say why something went down the way it did. On one hand, Weber leaving BYU seemed like a given based on the performance of the O line last year. So did he go out looking for a job before BYU could give him his walking papers, who knows. Firing Ben Cahoon, or letting him go, does not seem like the right move based on the performance of the receivers last year. But then letting Patrick Higgins going 2010 based on the performance of his wide receivers did not make much sense either. But looking at Higgins success at Purdue no one can argue that it turned out poorly for him. Hopefully the same will happen for Cahoon. Perhaps it was part his decision, they say great players have a hard time transitioning into coaching, because they find it difficult to coach into others what comes naturally to them. Perhaps he did not want to work under Anae, or did not want to not work under Doman. Unless he tells us the inside story we can only speculate. But I hope whoever they find to replace him continues to build on the success that Higgins and Cahoon have had. Finally nothing against Max Hall but I hope they go a different direction at quarterbacks coach.

  • FL Cosmo said:

    Thanks, Josh. Good to know Atuia’s been doing more than just hanging around campus. Hopefully he can help keep the Polynesian pipeline stocked too. I completely agree that Dupaix wasn’t right for RB coach, though. Still a pity that Cahoon is out, but it was right to let Anae pick all his own staff. Cahoon’s talented. He’ll land on his feet and excel somewhere. Just wish it could’ve been BYU.

  • Seasider said:

    The hiring of Roderick should ease some of the sting of losing Cahoon. BYU had been flirting with the idea of getting him back to Provo for some time now and it finally happened. I do wonder if him being passed over for OC at Utah played a part in his decision. Either way, he’ll be a good addition to the staff.

  • Jeff said:

    Is it me, or doesn’t it seem like the timing is perfect. With all the offensive coaching changes………WHERE IS TY DETMER???!!! That’s who we need as QB Coach!

  • AZ_Coug said:

    I hear Tujague will coach the O-line per the article in Santa Clarita Valley News. Does that mean that Anae will not coach any specific position? Or coach the TEs?

  • Kent Kohkonen said:

    I would like to know who the kicking coach will be???????
    kauriwaka

  • Brett Richins (author) said:

    Kent,

    Likely to remain Nick Howell. The place kicking has been bad because Sorensen has never been healthy a single day in his BYU career.

  • cory said:

    Jeff don’t get my hopes up like that! I scroll threw things quickly and see the name TY Detmer in big letters and get all excited. Just to find out that its just a guess :(

  • cory said:

    Not so fast on Roderick! any thoughts Brett?

  • Brett Richins (author) said:

    cory,

    Well, I guess he knows he’ll never get another offer from BYU ever again. My guess is that Utah threw some money at him to try to keep him. He’s important to their recruiting.

    On a personal level, I’m ticked at him because I spent my whole morning writing a story about his hiring and what to expect.

  • BretHutch said:

    Exactly, he has burned his bridge for a long time at BYU. Shows what happens when you get messed up with the team up North. He has changed his mind twice now on leaving Utah. I wonder what Kyle really thinks deep down. Do they keep throwing more money at him and he then looks like the waffler that can’t make a decision and stick with it? Kyle looks like the nice guy letting him come back.

  • BretHutch said:

    Brett,

    Are you hearing anything concrete about BYU and maybe the Big 12? I saw an article that the Big 12 commissioner said they would be more proactive about expansion and they would be discussing it in their upcoming meetings. I grew up in Iowa watching the Big 8 and I would love to be playing those teams. It would be hard for us at first, but we would be able to within a few years.

  • Brett Richins (author) said:

    Bret,
    Not hearing anything about BYU to the Big 12 at this point.

  • Seasider said:

    It’s not just BYU that will never offer A-Rod a job but I’m guessing a lot of college football programs will think twice about hiring him. One can overlook what he did with Sarkisian and Washington but when he does it again with BYU, it just doesn’t look good professionally no matter how you try to spin it.

    There’s always Cahoon but will Bronco and Anae be able to swallow their pride enough to ask him back or does Cahoon even want to come back?

  • R said:

    Bret,

    Loyal fan of the site. This is my first post. Lifetime BYU fan who grew up playing football during halftime of blowouts underneath the East Stands.

    I have been a Bronco fan for many years. Loved the way he cleaned up a broken program and brought BYU football back from the brink. I also truly appreciate the way he has helped student athletes at BYU embrace the unique and difficult situation of playing for a faith based institution.

    With the coaching drama of the last several years and especially the last few weeks I have found myself confused and disappointed…Confused about the firing of Ben Cahoon and disappointed in Bronco.

    Tradition, Spirit, Honor. These three words that have come to mean so much to the football program define Ben Cahoon. How in the world do you let this coach go? It can’t be about results. If it was felt that Roderick was a better fit and he was going to coach the receivers at BYU then the decision to let Cahoon go and hire Roderick, only to have that come undone seems like a disaster on par with the decision to play two quarterbacks at once. Not the best way to start your tenure as OC. Let one of the best coaches on the staff go to hire a replacement who has already shown a proclivity to second guess his own career decisions. now we have no one to coach the receivers. And you have just alienated Coach Cahoon to a point that coming back to work at the Y would be extremely difficult.

    Do you have any insight you wish to share about Coach Cahoon’s firing that would shed light on what appears on the surface to be inexplicable?

  • Brett Richins (author) said:

    R,

    In my opinion Cahoon was the one guy on the offensive side of the ball that merited consideration for being retained. However, I’m pretty sure that Anae agreed to return with the notion that he was going to be able to assemble his own staff. It’s not fair to a coach like Cahoon, but that is the way the ball bounces sometimes. I’ve also heard that Bronco and Cahoon did not always see eye to eye, and I’m sure that didn’t help him.

    I’m sure that Anae and Bronco targeted Roderick right from the beginning. Not only is he a good coach, but he is an excellent recruiter as well. Just hope he doesn’t get bent out of shape when some kid decommits from Utah in the future. His about face was a tough blow because I’m sure that he was going to be named as the recruiting coordinator as well.

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