The X factor in Anae’s hire at UA…winning bowl games

Hey, we just figured out the real reason Mike Stoops hired Robert Anae to play a key role on Arizona’s offensive coaching staff!

Sure, Anae is one of the hottest offensive coordinators in college football right now, having helped Bringham Young University to a 56-21 record during the six years he served as offensive coordinator there.

But think outside the box, here.

Anae has been to 21 bowl games!  Four as a player at BYU, two more as a coaching assistant there, four at the junior college level, and 11 more as an assistant coach at Texas Tech and finally BYU.

Now, think about how Arizona has fared in bowl games lately.  A 33-0 humiliation at the hands of Nebraska in the 2009 Holiday Bowl, and then another embarrassing loss this year in a 36-10 loss to Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl.

BYU has gone bowling every one of the six years that Anae has been there, winning four of them.  This season, they knocked off UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl by running up 514 yards of total offense in a 52-24 waxing.

Interestingly, one of those two bowl losses came in the 2008 Las Vegas Bowl.  They lost to… yep, Arizona.  The 31-21 victory is Mike Stoops’ only bowl win at UA.

Anae replaces Bill Bedenbaugh, who was the co-offensive coordinator this season.  Bedenbaugh split for West Virginia to become that school’s offensive line coach, re-uniting him with his old college teammate, Dana Holgorsen, who will take over the Mountaineer program in 2012.

BYU is also going through some transitional pains, which is why Anae was available.  The Cougars’ head coach, Bronco Mendenhall, fired or forced resignations from his entire offensive coaching staff following a 7-6 season.

But Anae wasn’t expected to have trouble finding work.  Mike Stoops just happened to get to him first.

Anae is one of the more highly-respected offensive minds in college football right now.  He came up through the offensive system of Mike Leach at Texas Tech and still runs the spread offense that Leach helped pioneer.

Using that system, he helped BYU to a top-25 ranking in third-down efficiency in each of his years as the Cougars’ coordinator, including a No. 1 rating in 2009 and No. 2 ratings in 2006 and 2008.

In his first week on the job in Tucson, he got some much-needed good news when Juron Criner announced he would be staying at Arizona for his senior year, rather than entering the NFL draft.  Criner was the Pac-10’s top receiver this year, pulling in 92 passes for 1,233 yards and 11 touchdowns.

That decision will be critical to Arizona’s success next season, since the Cats are planning to throw the ball more next year.  Both Anae and Seth Littrell are disciples of the Texas Tech-style of offensive.

Littrell was given the co-coordinator title last year, sharing it with Bedenbaugh, but is expected to be given the assignment on his own this year.  Anae is reportedly stepping in as offensive line coach and running game coordinator.

The system that Anae prefers also involves a healthy dose of ground game to complement the spread passing attack – which will be important going forward, since the ability to run the football with consistency was not high on this season’s list of achievements.

And there’s another plus that the native of Hawaii brings to the Wildcat coaching staff.  He may just raise the IQ level of the whole staff.

Anae is the first-ever member of an Arizona football coaching staff who has a doctoral degree.

(Photo: Arizona Athletics)