Dick Harmon: Robert Anae part of coaching musical chairs again

Published: Friday, Dec. 9 2011 9:54 p.m. MST

During the BYU-Hawaii game last Saturday, ESPN's crew got a shot of it, right next to the famous Waikiki Beach. It is a giant, towering statue of the father of surfing, Duke Kahanamoku, a five-time Olympian. To create the statue, the flesh and bone model the artist used for the work, was former BYU football player Robert Anae.

When I saw that statue shot on the beach, Anae immediately came to mind and I thought I'd check on his status and get his thoughts in this crazy coaching merry-go-round this season.

"It was just after my playing days when I was in shape," said Anae of his modeling job as he spoke from his home in Tucson, Ariz., where he was just fired along with the entire staff of Mike Stoops. Arizona hired Rich Rodriguez and he's bringing in his own friends.

Ironically, this is the same position Anae found himself in this time last year. Not as the statue model, but as a football coach. Two jobs in 12 months, both ending before Christmas.

"What is that thing planes do when they can't land and circle around? They call it a holding pattern. That's me now," said Anae. "It's the lay of the land."

The holding pattern is crowded.

At least 21 head football coaches were fired, "retired" or left for another job the past few weeks including coaches at Arizona, Akron, Arkansas State, Arizona State, Colorado State, Fresno State, Hawaii, FAU, Kansas, Memphis, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio State, Penn State, Southern Mississippi, Tulane, Texas A&M, UAB, UCLA, UMass and Washington State.

And there are at least that many places fans think their coaches should be fired.

Nice office parties about this time.

I told Anae it was a crazy profession he has, the stress and all, with guys like me second-guessing him in the press, jumping from jobs at UNLV, Texas Tech, BYU and Arizona while trying to raise kids and make the wife happy.

But he did valiantly stand up for being a coach.

"It is a great business. I love what I do. I'm committed to principles that drive me in this profession and it takes a certain kind of person who is attracted to it and a certain kind of a person that can sustain it."

He admitted, however, "It is really tough on families." The nomad life always is.

So, does he have any leads on a new job?

"I don't have anything for you," Anae said.

Anae was only out of work for a few weeks last year after leaving BYU. Friday, he was enjoying the break, polishing up his resume, and enjoying the sun in a place people are actually sunbathing.

Anae's resume does have its bullet points. He is committed to fundamentals. He has an unblemished record with compliance — he's not a cheater. And if you look at his body of work at BYU, it does stand out.

In Anae's six years, BYU's offense led the nation in third-down conversions for two years and ranked in the top five for several other seasons. Some of his seasons compare with the average in scoring and total offense at BYU in its glory days.

And, a little-known fact that stands out is since Jamal Willis established the Cougar rushing mark in the mid-'90s that stood for 11 seasons, Anae's offense featured two backs, Curtis Brown and Harvey Unga, who became the school's all-time leading rushers in the six years he coached in Provo.

If Unga had not left school early and played his senior year, he would have put up a career rushing mark tough to erase.

Not a bad pitch to those who'll listen. And there are about 21 vacancies that need to be filled.

Early Friday morning, I learned BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall had removed his name from the list at UCLA. Who knew it was there in the first place? It is unknown if Mendenhall had applied or agreed to have his name used as the Bruin administration created a working check list and asked to use his name.

Mendenhall has declined to comment.

Former BYU head coach Gary Crowton's name has cropped up in connection with Colorado State, which fired Steve Fairchild.

Really, it is admirable Anae stands up for this kind of employment.

How about Kansas hiring previously fired Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis? How nuts was it that ASU courted SMU's June Jones to the altar then abandoned him like an unwanted dog? The prospect of Mike Leach in Pullman at Washington State and Rodriguez at Arizona has Pac-12 commish Larry Scott kissing without the mistletoe.

Joe Paterno fired with a phone call as Penn State burns in scandal of the worst kind?

It is a crazy profession.

email: dharmon@desnews.com twitter: harmonwrites

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