Kyle Whittingham: I Feel Very Close To Kalani

Aug 26, 2019, 12:17 PM
Head coach Kalani Sitake of the Brigham Young Cougars meets with head coach Kyle Whittingham of the...
Head coach Kalani Sitake of the Brigham Young Cougars meets with head coach Kyle Whittingham of the Utah Utes after the Ute's come from behind 35-27 win at Rice-Eccles Stadium on November 24, 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Entering the BYU/Utah rivalry game, the head coaches on both sides have a unique relationship that isn’t displayed in rivalry games.

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham spends time with BYU head coach Kalani Sitake during every off-season since Sitake became the head coach of the Cougars in 2016.

“I feel very close to Kalani,” Whittingham said. “We spent a lot of time together in the off-season again this year. We have a lot in common as far as how we think and personality wise.”

The two go back to 2005 when Whittingham hired Sitake to be the linebackers coach in Whittingham’s first season as Utah’s head coach, taking over for Urban Meyer, who left to be the head coach of Florida.

Before they became close, Whittingham was introduced to Sitake by now Utah State head coach Gary Andersen, who was promoted to defensive coordinator when Whittingham was head coach. It was almost immediate that Whittingham and Sitake would build a strong friendship.

“Right when I interviewed him,” Whittingham said at his press conference. “Gary Andersen said ‘hey, here is a guy that I want you to take a look at’ for a spot on the staff and not necessarily for a particular position because he coached offense at the time.”

The two had a long conversation when Whittingham interviewed Sitake to fill a position on the coaching staff.

“It was the first interview where I sat down with him and we spent a couple of hours talking together and hit it off right away,” Whittingham mentioned. I just really enjoyed his personality, his attitude and we had a lot of common ground.”

Sitake was the linebackers coach for Utah from 2005-08 before being promoted to defensive coordinator, while still coaching the linebackers from 2009-11. In 2012, Sitake was promoted again to assistant head coach, while still holding the defensive coordinator and linebacker positions. He left in 2015 to join Andersen as the Oregon State assistant head coach and defensive coordinator.

During that time that Sitake was at Utah, the Utes held a 6-3 record over the Cougars.

BYU and Utah will square off in Provo on Thursday at 8:15 p.m. on ESPN and KSL Newsradio.

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