The architect of the unit that ranked third in the FBS in total offense this season is headed to the Orange. Head Coach Dino Babers has added Robert Anae to his staff as the team’s offensive coordinator.
“Coach Anae has proven to lead a number of successful offenses in his career, including in the ACC,” said head coach Dino Babers. “We’re excited to welcome him and his family to Syracuse and look forward to him getting started with our team.”
Anae joins the Syracuse staff having spent 15 seasons as an FBS offensive coordinator, including the last six in the ACC at Virginia and nine at BYU, with additional stops at Arizona, Texas Tech, UNLV, Boise State, Ricks College and Hawaii in his coaching tenure.
“I want to thank Dino Babers for this opportunity,” Anae said. “He’s a friend I’ve known for many years and look forward to working alongside a great offensive mind that as an offensive staff we can use at our disposal.”
A three-time nominee for the Frank Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach, Anae’s offense has finished in the top-25 of 10 different NCAA offensive statistical categories a total of 56 times in his 15-year tenure as an OC, including 21 top-10 rankings.
His most recent unit – the 2021 Virginia squad – was one-of-five programs in the FBS this season to average over 500 yards of total offense, averaging 515.8. Their total offense number and passing yardage average (396.2) are both program records. They ranked second nationally in passing yardage this season.
In 2021, Brennan Armstrong broke single season quarterback records for touchdown passes (31), passing yards (4,449) and total offense (4,700) at the end of the regular season. He’s the latest in a line of quarterbacks to play in the NFL after working in Anae’s offenses. Bryce Perkins (Rams), Kurt Benkert (Packers) and Taysom Hill (Saints) are all currently on NFL rosters, while Max Hall and John Beck both had tenures in the league as well.
Between 2013 and 2021, quarterbacks under Anae have averaged 3,368 passing yards and 513 rushing yards a season for an average of 3,880 yards of total offense. The receiving units have also been balanced under Anae at Virginia, as his offenses created the first UVA receiving trios to each amass at least 600 receiving yards in the same season. That has happened three times in five years.
In his six seasons at UVA, the Cavaliers have been bowl eligible in all but his first season in Charlottesville, highlighted by ACC Coastal Division Championship and trip to the Orange Bowl in 2019.
Prior to his tenure at Virginia, Anae spent the 2013-15 seasons as the offensive coordinator/inside receivers coach at BYU in what was his second stint with the Cougars. That tenure culminated with BYU finishing No. 14 in the final rankings and having the No. 10 ranked rushing attack in the country. Hill and running back Jamaal Williams both ran for over 1,000 yards as the offense netted 3,475 yards on the ground – a school record. He was also at BYU from 2005-10 in the same role.
Anae’s offense produced the top-three rushers all-time at BYU – Williams: 3,901; Harvey Unga: 3,455; and Curtis Brown: 3,221 – and the program’s top wide receiver in terms of receiving yards, catches and touchdowns – Austin Collie: 3,225 yards, 215 catches and 30 touchdowns. Additionally, Dennis Pitta broke BYU’s receptions and yardage records by a tight end under Anae: 2,901 yards and 221. Pitta was a consensus All-American in 2009 and fellow Cougars’ tight end Johnny Harline was a first team All-American in 2006.
In between his stints at BYU, he worked at Arizona as the offensive line coach and run game coordinator. His unit blocked for the nation’s leading rusher in 2012, Ka’Deem Carey. Carey totaled 1,929 yards and 23 touchdowns on 303 carries. In addition to the success on the ground, where his unit protected QB Nick Foles to lead the Wildcats to the third-ranked passing offense in the country in 2011 (360.8 yards per game).
Anae’s first job at a Power 5 program came when he was on Mike Leach’s inaugural staff at Texas Tech, where he was the offensive line coach from 2000-04, during a time where the Red Raiders put together one of the most prolific offenses in NCAA history. Three of his five years on staff, Texas Tech led the nation in passing and were never outside the top-11. They also led the nation in total offense in 2003 (582.8), a mark that currently stands as the eighth-highest total in FBS history.
Anae began his coaching career as a graduate assistant working with the offensive line at Hawaii under Dick Tomey in 1986-87, two seasons after Babers was a graduate assistant under Tomey. He then was a graduate assistant for a pair of years at BYU in 1990 and 1991 before coaching the offensive line at Ricks College in Idaho from 1992-95. Anae coached the offensive front for a year at Boise State in 1996 before moving to UNLV for a pair of seasons, the final as running game coordinator along with his line duties in 1998.
He and his wife, Liane, have two sons and a daughter. His son Famika played on the offensive line at BYU before ending his career during the 2012 season due to injuries. Anae’s father, Famika Sr., and brothers Brad and Matt, also played football for BYU. His pride and joy are his four grandchildren ages 1-5.
Anae graduated from BYU in 1986 with a degree in political science. He went on to earn two more degrees, an M.S. in sociology in 1990 from Hawai’i and a PH.D. in sociology in 1999 from BYU.