Success breeds opportunities for coaches, especially coordinators looking for head coaching positions. Just like Kyle Whittingham and Gary Anderson, Kalani Sitake is in line to jump from Utah defensive coordinator to head coach. After leading one of the best defenses in the country in 2014, and consistently one of the better defenses each of the last six seasons, Sitake's name is becoming a popular one for open jobs.
First, I'm going to eliminate him going to another DC position at another school, I just don't see that happening, if he's leaving, it's as a head coach. Coach Sitake has been linked to the open jobs at UNLV, Colorado State, now Oregon State, and if Matt Wells were to leave USU, he'd be a top candidate to take over the Aggies. Heck, even people down in Provo are dreaming of Kalani taking over for Bronco. Even if Sitake doesn't take one of the openings this year, it's more a matter of when, not if.
So what happens when/if Sitake leaves? Obviously, Utah will have a need at defensive coordinator, but my key concern would be who would Sitake take with him to build his own staff? Here are the coaches on the staff that Utah needs to keep from leaving with Sitake, if he does leave.
Morgan Scalley - Safeties Coach / Recruiting Coordinator
Scalley is a Utah man through-and-through, and would be my choice to take over at DC if Sitake were to leave. He's a fiery coach that the players love. He just has a knack for the game, especially since he has been basically coaching since he walked off the field after the Fiesta Bowl in 2005. Not to mention, he is a bulldog of a recruiter, like Sitake. He would slide into the DC chair without a problem.
Ilaisa Tuiaki - Defensive Line Coach
Tuiaki would be a tough one to keep, because he may be Sitake's top choice as defensive coordinator, wherever he goes (although Sitake may go to former Ute D-Line coach Chad Kauha'aha'a, now on Gary Anderson's staff at Wisconsin). Tuiaki has done great things with this Utah defensive line the past two seasons. Since he's led this unit, the Utes have been at, or near the top of the country in QB sacks. Retaining Tuiaki should be a high priority, but will be a tough task.
Doug Elisaia - Strength and Conditioning
One of the most unheralded names on the staff is Elisaia. He is one of the best in the country at strength and conditioning, and is a reason that Utah's defense has been so tough and stout year-in and year-out. He helps develop the young men that come into the program, and is also one of the people that solidifies the family bond around the program, because he may be around the players more than anybody else.
Dennis Erickson - Running Backs Coach
I'm not sure Erickson would want to move programs again, especially at his age, but I wouldn't be surprised if Sitake was to ask Erickson to run his offense. Utah needs to hold onto Erickson for as long as possible, just due to his recruiting ties, especially in Florida. The Florida pipeline has finally opened for Utah, and the Utes are seeing that pay off, especially with the play of Andre Godfrey, Kenric Young, and the potential of Monte Seabrook and Tavaris Williams. Not to forget he's helped secure commits from some big time Florida players this year, like South Carolina transfer Ahmad Christian, Taylor Thomas and Brandon Snell.
Ideally, it would be best if Sitake stayed, especially with all the talent coming back continuity would be big going into next season. But if he decides to go, Coach Whittingham has to do his best to retain much of his staff, especially the names above.