BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae announced Wednesday that he has accepted a job as the offensive coordinator at the University of Virginia. He follows new Cavalier coach Bronco Mendenhall to Charlottesville after the Cougar bowl game in Las Vegas on Dec. 19 against Utah.
The Las Vegas bowl will be Anae’s 20th bowl game.
“I met with my players today and told them of my decision and new position,” Anae told the Deseret News. “I have asked three other coaches to join me on my offensive staff and they have accepted. They are Garett Tujague (offensive line), Mark Atuaia (running backs) and Jason Beck (quarterbacks)."
Anae said he would have liked to take receiver coach Guy Holliday with “his team,” but there was no place for the popular coach.
“I am excited to join Coach Mendenhall and work to win an ACC championship. I am extremely appreciative of having received this opportunity and that my talents and skills are appreciated at Virginia.”
Anae, whose Cougar offense at BYU led the nation in red zone scoring this season until “we took a knee” in scoring position at the end of the Utah State game, said it was very tough to make the news known to players and said many were disappointed.
“I’m very proud of the work we did at BYU with the offense after many challenges we faced and I’m excited to have this bunch (coaches) follow me to the new opportunity.”
Anae said he was “underwhelmed” with the interest shown in his abilities this week after Mendenhall announced he was leaving for Virginia last Friday and a coaching search began.
Asked if this decision and talk with his players is a distraction for preparation for the upcoming bowl game with Utah, he said everyone is trying their best to work hard and do a professional job and win.
“If this was the first time in my career this has happened, this would be more difficult, but I’ve been through this before and I understand what it is all about.
Comparing his situation to a worker on a construction job, Anae said “You have to go where the work is, and right now that is where I’m needed and wanted.”
Anae said it is difficult leaving BYU because it is his home and where he played and has worked and that’s where he’s given his energy to. “But it’s time to move on.”
Anae left the University of Arizona three years ago to return to BYU where he was the first Cougar offensive coordinator in the Mendenhall regime in 2005. Before returning to his alma mater, he was the offensive line coach at Texas Tech under Mike Leach. He held similar positions at Boise State and UNLV.
Anae’s announcement obviously means he is not, nor was he a serious candidate to replace Mendenhall, although he held the title of assistant head coach after returning to BYU from Arizona.
Asked if he had any knowledge of who may be leading in BYU's coaching search, he replied, "I do not. I'm out of the loop."
In a related development, the Deseret News has learned Holliday also met with his position players in a team meeting and told them if BYU would have him, he will remain at BYU and coach receivers. He has no plans to look for another job unless otherwise advised by the new head coach.
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