Stand with Sitake: Why I support BYU’s 2-point conversion decision against Utah

BYU head football coach Kalani Sitake yells during the BYU-Utah football game on Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium. BYU lost 20–19 to Utah. (Photo by BYU Photo)

BYU head football coach Kalani Sitake yells during the BYU-Utah football game on Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium. BYU lost 20–19 to Utah. (Photo by BYU Photo)

BYU took a leap of faith and stumbled in a 20–19 loss to Utah Saturday night.

With less than a minute left in the game, BYU senior quarterback Taysom Hill ran the ball into the end zone, bringing the Cougars to within one point of Utah. Cougar fans sat on pins and needles awaiting the coaches play decision: would new BYU head coach Kalani Sitake opt for the PAT — sending the game into overtime — or would he take the risk to win the game with a 2-point conversion? He went for the 2-point conversion.

And it failed.

Hill was taken down before he could reach the end zone. Game over.

In the post-game press conference, Sitake told reporters the 2-point conversion was “not the wrong call.” In fact, it was the plan all along.

“Why not?” Sitake said. “We had Taysom Hill. We had some momentum. We told them right before the offense went out. We said we were going for two. That was the plan. Our guys knew it and they were ready for it. They just made a play and we didn’t. I’d do it again.”

Hindsight is supposed to be the clearest vision, so why wouldn’t Sitake regret the failed 2-point conversion play? Gumption.

Real competitors do just what the cliche saying attests: “Winners play to win, not not to lose.”

Real competitors do just what the cliche saying attests: “Winners play to win, not not to lose.”

And BYU’s football program is full of real competitors. (Take note Big 12.) And that is how Sitake led his team.

Before the season began, BYU fans encapsulated the new coaching staff into this box of perfection and it was hard to believe — despite all logic — that that view could ever be tainted.

My interactions with Sitake have been limited. They’ve been more roles as the media from a distance. I was on the floor taking pictures when he was introduced along with his staff at a BYU basketball game. I was there when he decided he wanted more of a Cougar fan experience by joining the student section at a basketball game. Then I briefly interviewed him at Media Day, when he stopped by our booth without being prompted and remembered the staff who had helped on his photo shoot for Utah Valley Magazine.

Then there are all the firsthand experiences I’ve heard. I heard stories about Sitake as a person after Utah Valley Magazine editor Jeanette Bennett interviewed the Sitakes for our magazine’s cover story. I heard stories about Sitake asking Cougar fans to stop by his office — whether they were about to be deployed across seas to serve in the U.S. Air Force or just because  — and how Kalani Sitake took time out of his schedule to talk to these fans. We saw the soft and friendly teddy bear side.

And then big papa bear was unleashed.

When Kai Nacua was ejected from the game for a targeting, we saw the Band of Brothers’ papa tear into the refs, receiving his own penalty. Behind the Cougar fan known as BYU’s head football coach, there is a fierce competitor, a protector and a coach that understands “the greater the risk, the greater the payoff.”

“To end his night on that, it was difficult for me to deal with … I will always have our guys’ back — always,” Sitake said in the press conference following the game.

After the game concluded, I was grateful there were minimal degrading statements moving through my social media feed about wanting Bronco Mendenhall back and hatred for the coaching staff. But they still existed.

Is the honeymoon phase already over? Does it just take one loss — or one call you may disagree with — for Sitake to no longer be our man? No. Can we be BYU fans and not hold the same tenacity as the football staff? No. We need to be competitors like our coaches and players. Stand with Sitake. Rep the Y.

As for me, I’d choose a coach who goes for the 2-point conversion any day.

Rebecca Lane

While her first language is sarcasm, Rebecca dabbles in English and Russian to achieve her lifelong dream of being a journalist. A BYU sports fan, reading enthusiast and wannabe world traveler, Rebecca is a Colorado transplant that is convinced Colorado's mountains are much larger than the many Utah County peaks. Rebecca manages for Bennett Communications. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccalane.


  1. AvatarTom Reply

    To help with consistency in enforcement, the NCAA needs to do what the NBA has done: have all replays reviewed at a central video replay center.

    And while I wouldn’t have tried for the 2-point conversion in that situation, I’m okay with the call. If you believe in your guys, you believe in your guys.

    I just think QB Hill calls his own number too often in hero situations. It makes him more predictable and easier to defend in those instances.

    Nevertheless, it was a great game, particularly if you appreciate great defensive play.

  2. AvatarByujiji Reply

    Support the call 120%. Utah has had our number for too long: it was time to go for broke. I loved Bronco and all he did for the Y, but I am fully behind Coach Sitake and his staff. I have bled royal blue since I was a freshman at BYU in 1978. I love my Cougars, but the fans leave a lot to be desired. Already second guessing Ty’s play calling? Really? The guy has lived a life most of the naysayers cannot even fathom when it comes to football and understanding it, but the basement dwelling underpants wearing armchair quarterbacks know how Ty should have called the game? Seriously guys, give it a rest. We have a great coaching staff and players that are learning to work together. Can’t you just enjoy the game and the effort these kids give without pinning the truthfulness of the gospel on if they win or not?

  3. AvatarKeith Stepp Reply

    The PAC 12 has already said there is no appeal to the ejection. I think BYU should go directly to the NCAA. The Biggest question settled with this game was not “Which team was better” but that the PAC officials, who have an awful reputation, just confirmed that. The broadcasting team questioned Nacua’s targeting call and the first blocking below the waist call, which negated a big gain. If you watch the second blocking below the waist call, on Bernard, that was also a bad call. Bernard was set to hit the Utah player in the stomach, the Utah player forearmed him and he fell. The Utah player caused the low hit (nothing illegal, just doing what he was supposed to be doing). Also the spot at the 6 yard line when the QB was actually hit between the 1 and the 2 was also awful. The second targeting was questionable. Also, he didn’t hit a defenseless receiver and the hit occurred after the interception. At least five, possibly six horrendous calls against BYU in that game. The decision by the conference to not review the targeting was pretty chicken. It is not right to punish a player and a team for their next game due to a horrendous call by the refs. This strikes as conference “homering” to me. A PAC 12 benefited this week and a PAC team will benefit next week – at the expense of a non PAC 12 team. As they would say in Washington DC, this does not pass the giggle test.

    1. AvatarWahului Reply

      Kieth, well spoken. The targeting calls smack of manipulation affecting results by the Pac12 officials; and it didn’t start this game, or even this year with that bunch. I read earlier that they’ve been under investigation for 3 of the last 5 seasons??

      As to the two point attempt; the wagons are circled for Kalani, and I love him as the BYU coach, but this decision was wrong! If he really believed in his guys, he’d have taken the point to tie, with the confidence that his defense could hold Utah to a field goal, and his rejuvenated offense could settle, focus, and get the score from 25 yards out. Added to the play call, they were given the least possible chance to succeed, in the heat of a moment, and victimized themselves with poor judgement. He may have been afraid to face the Utes from 25 yards out with the weakened secondary after the ejections.

  4. Avatarllcool Reply

    I know it makes you feelbetter to blame the refs for the loss, but it was not their fault. everyone has their own opinion of that call but each was called and reviewed. conspiracy aside. and read up it was NOT a PAC12 crew, but a BIG12 crew! but we all know they are trying to keep BYU out of their league, so it is their fault! had Y won that game Whit would have made no excuses, and neither did Sitake make excuses, so take notice.

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