Kalani Sitake
Head Football Coach
Phone
(801) 422-1141
Office
SAB 220


Responsibilities

Head Coach

Years at BYU

  • Coach: 2016-present
  • Player: 1994, 1997-00

Education

  • Brigham Young University (2000; B.A., English)
  • Kirkwood HS (St. Louis, Mo.)

Years Overall Coaching

2001-present

Coaching Experience

  • BYU, Head Coach (2016-present)
  • Oregon State, Assistant Head Coach & Defensive Coordinator (2015)
  • Utah (2005-14)
    • Assistant Head Coach, Defensive Coordinator, Linebackers (2012-14)
    • Defensive Coordinator, Linebackers (2009-11)
    • Linebackers (2005-08)
  • Southern Utah (2003-04)
    • Offensive Line, Tight Ends (2004)
    • Running Backs, Tight Ends (2003)
  • BYU, Graduate Assistant-Defense (2002)
  • Eastern Arizona, Defensive Backs & Special Teams (2001)

Coaching Career Highlights

  • 2021 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award Finalist and 2021 George Munger Collegiate Coach of the Year Award Semifinalist for the second consecutive year after leading BYU to 10-3 record, including 6-1 mark against Power 5 teams, and No. 19 final ranking, the program's first back-to-back top-20 rankings since 2006 and 2007.  
  • After the 2021 regular season, BYU inked Sitake to a new contract running through the 2027 season.
  • Defeated nationally ranked Utah and Arizona State as well as USC, Washington State, Arizona and Virginia while going 6-1 vs. Power 5 opponents in 2021, losing only to Big 12 Champion and final No. 5 ranked Baylor in Waco. Helped BYU earn a No. 10 ranking after a 5-0 start, including wins over rivals and eventual Pac-12 Champion Utah and Mountain West Champion Utah State. 
  • In 2020, was named an Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year finalist, George Munger Coach of the Year semifinalist and Bear Bryant Award candidate after leading BYU to 11-1 record and No. 11 final ranking in 2020, the program's highest final ranking since 1996
  • Among the many wins, BYU defeated Boise State 51-17 in first win in Boise for BYU and dominated high-powered UCF 49-23 to win the RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl.
  • With an 11-1 record in 2020, Sitake’s team achieved only the sixth one-loss or undefeated season in BYU football history and the first since 1996 when quarterback Steve Sarkisian led BYU to a 14-1 record and No. 5 final ranking after winning the Cotton Bowl. BYU also recorded 11 wins for the first time since 2009 and only the 12th time overall in program history. In 2009, BYU finished ranked No. 12 in both final polls with an 11-2 record. 
  • The Cougars were ranked as high as No. 8 in 2020, a slot they maintained for four weeks, while winning their first nine games of the season. BYU's No. 8 ranking was the program's highest placement during a season since earning a No. 7 ranking by the AP in 2009 and being rated No. 7 by the coaches in 2008.
  • BYU achieved top-10 rankings in 18 different statistical categories in the NCAA ratings. The only team to finished with a top-10 offense and defense, the Cougars finished No. 3 in scoring offense (43.5 ppg), No. 4 in scoring defense (15.3 ppg), No. 6 in total offense (522.2 ypg) and No. 10 in total defense (317.4 ypg).  
  • The Cougars saw six different players receiving All-America recognition in 2020 for their outstanding play, led by NCAA Consensus All-American left tackle Brady Christensen. Quarterback Zach Wilson, who finished No. 8 in the Heisman Trophy voting, receiver Dax Milne and kicker Jake Oldroyd also earned All-America honors, while running back Tyler Allgeier received All-America honorable mention and tight end Isaac Rex was named a Freshman All-American. 
  • Earned home victories over nationally ranked USC (No. 24) and Boise State (No. 14) in 2019 and a road victory over 8-win Tennessee in front of more than 90,000 fans in Neyland Stadium in BYU's first trip to Rocky Top 
  • Guided BYU to a road win over No. 6 Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium in 2018 to give the Cougars their first road win over a top-10 team since 1984 while ending the Badgers' 41-game non-conference home winning streak
  • Were ranked as high as No. 20 in 2018 after starting the season 3-1 with a victories over Arizona in Tucson and No. 6 Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium. 
  • Boasts 13 victories over Power 5 conference opponents in his first six years at BYU, including wins over nationally ranked Wisconsin, USC, Arizona State and Utah and multiple triumphs over Big Ten programs (Wisconsin, Michigan State), SEC teams (Tennessee, Mississippi State) and Pac-12 opponents (USC, Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, Washington State)   
  • Won the 2018 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, 49-18, over Western Michigan and the 2016 Poinsettia Bowl, 24-21, over Wyoming
  • Has coached in 13 bowl games and left the postseason contest on the winning side 10 times, including a 3-2 record as a head coach
  • Led BYU to 9-4 record in first season as FBS head coach. Out of 19 first-year FBS head coaches hired in 2016, Sitake was one of only six to finish with a winning record
  • First FBS head football coach of Tongan descent
  • 14th head coach in BYU history, and just the fourth since 1972, when Hall of Fame coach LaVell Edwards took over the program
  • Helped mentor 28 NFL Draft picks as a coach, most recently with five players selected in the 2021 NFL Draft, highlighted by No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson (New York Jets). Left tackle Brady Christensen went in the third round to the Carolina Panthers while receiver Dax Milne (Washington), defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga (Chicago) and defensive back Chris Wilcox (Tampa Bay) were each seventh-round selections. Other recent selections include BYU linebackers Sione Takitaki (2019 third round by the Cleveland Browns) and Fred Warner (2018 third round by the San Francisco 49ers) along with running back Jamaal Williams (2017 fourth round by the Green Bay Packers)
  • Coached 12 all-league players (Pac-12 and Mountain West Conference) and three freshmen All-Americans at Utah while helping mentor 14 NFL Draft picks, including Morris Trophy winners Star Lotulelei (2011) and Nate Orchard (2014)
  • Helped the Utes win seven of eight bowl games during his tenure

Playing Career

  • Sitake was a three-year starter at fullback for the Cougars from 1998-2000 under legendary BYU head coach LaVell Edwards
  • Named BYU’s Football Scholar Athlete of the Year in 1998
  • Helped the Cougars to the first Mountain West Conference championship in 1999
  • Earned BYU's Impact Player of the Year in 1999
  • Team captain in 2000
  • Team's most valuable running back in 2000 
  • Signed a free agent contract with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2001, but was forced to retire due to an injury

Hometown

Laie, Hawai'i, and Provo, Utah

Mission

Served a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Oakland, California

Personal/Family

  • Married to Timberly Friddle of Florida
  • Has two daughters, Skye and Sadie, and one son, Kelaokalani (KK)
  • Born in Nuku’alofa, Tonga
  • Younger brother T.J. played defensive end for BYU
  • Older brother Tevita Pella was a defensive end for Utah

 

KALANI SITAKE — BYU COACHING LEDGER
YEAR RECORD BOWL
2016 9-4  Poinsettia Bowl, defeated Wyoming, 24-31
2017 4-9  --
2018 7-6  Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, defeated Western Michigan, 49-18
2019 7-6  SoFi Hawai'i Bowl, lost at Hawai'i, 38-34
2020 11-1  RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl, defeated UCF 49-23
2021 10-3  Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl, lost to UAB, 31-28
TOTAL 48-29  3-2

Kalani Sitake (pronounced kah-lah-nee see-tah-kay) enters his seventh season overseeing the BYU football program in 2022. He was named head coach on December 19, 2015 by director of athletics Tom Holmoe and in November 2019 received a contract extension through the 2023 season. After the 2021 regular season, BYU inked Sitake to a new contract running through the 2027 season.

Sitake was named to an Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award Finalist and George Munger Collegiate Coach of the Year Award Semifinalist for the second consecutive year in 2021. Facing one of its toughest schedules ever, BYU went 6-1 against Power 5 conference opponents in 2021 to finish 10-3 overall and record back-to-back top-20 rankings for the first time since 2006 and 2007. BYU Athletics also formally received and accepted an invitation during the season to join the Power 5 ranks as a member of the Big 12 Conference, starting in 2023.  

On the field in 2021, BYU demonstrated the improving strength and maturity of the program under Sitake. Coming off an 11-1 season in 2020 that saw 13 players leave for the NFL, including five draft selections led by No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson, and offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes and offensive line coach Eric Mateos departing for Baylor, Sitake promoted Aaron Roderick to offensive coordinator and Fesi Sitake to passing game coordinator while hiring Kevin Clune to coach linebackers and Darrell Funk to coach offensive line. The team didn't miss a beat and responded in 2021 with BYU's first consecutive double-digit victory seasons since 2008 and 2009 against one of the program's most challenging schedules.  Sitake's team finished just out of the New Year's Six bowl consideration and earned a No. 19 final ranking to boast the program's first back-to-back top-20 rankings since 2006 and 2007.  

Starting his 22nd overall season as a coach in 2022, Sitake leads the program he once played for under Hall of Fame coach LaVell Edwards. A former Cougar running back (1994, 1997-2000), Sitake is the 14th head coach in BYU history and just the fourth since 1972, when Edwards took over the program. Sitake is the first former player under Edwards to be named head coach at BYU.

Sitake returned to his alma mater from Oregon State, where he served as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator in 2015 under head coach Gary Andersen. Sitake took the helm at BYU after 15 years in the college coaching profession, which included seven seasons serving as a defensive coordinator and four years as an assistant head coach. 

Prior to Oregon State, Sitake spent 10 seasons at the University of Utah under head coach Kyle Whittingham, also a former Cougar. Sitake started at Utah in 2005 as the linebackers coach and was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2009 before also being named assistant head coach in 2012. While at Utah, Sitake coached several Pac-12 and Mountain West Conference honorees, including Morris Trophy winners Star Lotulelei (2011) and Nate Orchard (2014). He also helped 14 players who became NFL Draft picks during his time in Salt Lake City, coaching 12 all-league players and three freshmen All-Americans. He helped the Utes win seven of eight bowl games during his tenure.

During his coaching career, Sitake has helped mentor 28 NFL Draft picks. Most recently, BYU had five players selected in the 2021 draft, highlighted by No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson. The talented quarterback Sitake recruited and saw develop in three seasons in his program into a top pick was selected by the New York Jets. Left tackle Brady Christensen went in the third round to the Carolina Panthers while receiver Dax Milne (Washington), defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga (Chicago) and defensive back Chris Wilcox (Tampa Bay) were each seventh-round selections.

Other recent BYU players drafted include linebackers Sione Takitaki (2019 third round by the Cleveland Browns), Fred Warner (2018 third round by the San Francisco 49ers), and running back Jamaal Williams (2017 fourth round by the Green Bay Packers). Takitaki has made an impact on the field to help Cleveland's resurgence, while Williams, who finished his BYU career as the school’s all-time leading rusher after averaging the nation’s fifth-best per-game totals at 137.5 yards per outing for Sitake’s Cougars in 2016, has been a regular on the field for the Packers and now the Lions. Warner, meanwhile, completed a standout career at BYU to become an immediate starter in the NFL, where he has earned All-Pro recognition and helped lead the 49ers to Super Bowl LIV in 2020 and NFC championship game in 2022.

Sitake has coached in 13 bowl games and been on the winning side in 10 matchups, including a 3-2 postseason record as a head coach. The Cougars defeated Josh Allen-led Wyoming 24-21 in the 2016 Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego and dominated Western Michigan 49-18 in the 2019 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl before dropping a close 38-34 contest in the 2019 SoFi Hawai’i Bowl to a 10-win Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors’ team playing on the their home field. BYU dominated future Big 12 mate UCF, 49-23, to finish an 11-1 season in 2020 at the Boca Raton Bowl before suffering a 31-28 setback vs. UAB in the 2021 Independence Bowl to finish 10-3 and No. 19 in the nation.

Sitake began his coaching career in 2001 as the defensive backs and special teams coach at Eastern Arizona before becoming a defensive graduate assistant at BYU in 2002 under Gary Crowton. Sitake then joined the staff at Southern Utah where he coached running backs, tight ends and offensive line during the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

As a player, Sitake came to BYU in 1994 prior to serving a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Oakland, California. After returning and redshirting in 1997, he was a three-year starter at fullback for the Cougars from 1998-2000 under Edwards. A team captain as a senior, Sitake’s last game as a player was also the last game coached by the legendary Edwards, a great mentor for Sitake.

Sitake was named BYU’s Football Scholar Athlete of the Year in 1998, Impact Player of the Year in 1999, and team captain and the most valuable running back in 2000. He signed a free agent contract with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2001, but was forced to retire due to an injury.

Born in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, and raised in Laie, Hawai’i and Provo, Utah, Sitake is the nation’s first FBS head football coach of Tongan descent. He graduated from BYU in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in English. Sitake and his wife Timberly have three children, Skye, Sadie and Kelaokalani (KK).

BYU AD Tom Holmoe on naming Sitake as head coach

“We are excited to announce Kalani Sitake as our new head football coach and welcome back one of our own. He is an outstanding leader and coach, an exceptional recruiter and knows BYU through and through. We look forward to having Kalani build on the great tradition of BYU football.” 

Kalani Sitake on becoming BYU's head coach

“I’m honored, excited and humbled by the opportunity to lead the BYU football program. I’m grateful for everything BYU gave me as a player. It’s a dream come true for me to return home. I love the university and what it stands for and I’m looking forward to helping the young men in the program reach their goals athletically, academically and spiritually. I want to thank Tom Holmoe, President Worthen and the administration for their faith and trust. I’m excited to get to work and continue the incredible legacy of BYU football.”

BYU AD Tom Holmoe on signing Sitake to new contract through 2027

“In recent days and weeks there has been a lot of movement among college football head coaches. Today, I’m thrilled to know that Kalani will continue to be our leader, coach and mentor going forward. In the past 50 years, BYU has had only four head football coaches. Consistency, creativity and culture have been our hallmarks. Kalani will continue to strengthen our football team culture and develop young leaders based on his emphasis of 'love and learning.' I’m grateful for Kalani and the Sitake family for their commitment to BYU.”

Kalani Sitake on becoming BYU's head coach

“I am grateful for the confidence that Tom Holmoe, President Worthen and the administration continue to have in my role leading the BYU football program. As both a former player and a BYU fan, it is an honor to be the head coach at this great university. I am blessed to lead a football program full of tremendous young men, outstanding coaches and staff and the best fans in the world. We’re all excited about the opportunities ahead as we prepare to enter the Big 12.”

KALANI SITAKE — BYU COACHING LEDGER
YEAR RECORD BOWL
2016 9-4  Poinsettia Bowl, defeated Wyoming, 24-31
2017 4-9  --
2018 7-6  Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, defeated Western Michigan, 49-18
2019 7-6  SoFi Hawai'i Bowl, lost at Hawai'i, 38-34
2020 11-1  Roofclaim.com Boca Raton Bowl, defeated UCF, 49-23
2021 10-3  Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl, lost to UAB, 31-28
TOTAL 48-29  3-2
KALANI SITAKE — COACHING EXPERIENCE
YEARS SCHOOL  POSITION
2016-present  BYU  Head Coach
2015  Oregon State  Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator
2012-14  Utah  Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator & Linebackers Coach
2009-11  Utah  Defensive Coordinator & Linebackers Coach
2005-08  Utah  Linebackers Coach
2004  Southern Utah  Offensive Line/Tight Ends Coach
2003  Southern Utah  Running Backs/Tight Ends Coach
2002  BYU  Graduate Assistant Coach/Defense
2001  Eastern Arizona  Defensive Backs Coach/Special Teams

 

BYU Hall of Fame