Arkansas Coach Gives High Praise To BYU’s Kalani Sitake

Sep 15, 2023, 10:47 AM

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Kalani Sitake will take on his good friend, Sam Pittman, on Saturday night when BYU squares off against the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Both teams come into the matchup 2-0. Someone will remain perfect on the year, while another will walk away from Razorbacks Stadium with the first loss of their season.

Regardless of the outcome, the friendship between Sitake and Pittman will continue.

“I’m really excited about the matchup. Sam Pittman is an amazing person, great mentor, and a great coach. I like being around him,” said Kalani Sitake. “I’m looking forward to talking with him before and after the game. I think in terms of coaching, I just really admire what he’s done and the way he leads.”

Pittman was asked during his midweek check-in where the relationship between him and Sitake began.

“We have mutual friends, which is where it started. Then I knew Kingsley, their left tackle. They rave about Kalani. And so I already knew some people who told me several wonderful things about him. Then I just like the way his team plays,” said Pittman.

Sam Pittman on Kalani Sitake: “One of the most well-respected guys in the country”

Sitake has been heavily involved in the coaches’ Pebble Beach Tournament every off-season. He’s had the chance to form many relationships in the coaching world through that. Then there was the coast-to-coast scheduling BYU took on as an Independent. It allowed Sitake to get to know many coaches, including Pittman.

“But if you talk in coaching circles, he’s one of the most well-respected guys in the country. Then you go and play him. Their team plays extremely hard. They’re well coached, very disciplined. I just have a lot of respect for him as a family man, how he runs his business. He was very kind to me when we went out there last year.”

Sitake would likely love nothing more than to pull the upset victory over Pittman’s Hogs. But he’s not focusing on revenge.

“Revenge can only get you so far,” Kalani Sitake said. “I think the key for us is to keep things more simple than that. The fans probably weren’t happy about the game, obviously. But for our players, this is a whole separate deal.”

Last year’s loss for Sitake was a humbling setback for his BYU program. BYU’s defense gave up 644 yards to the Razorbacks and spelled the end for Sitake’s close friend, defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki, and associate head coach Ed Lamb.

The humbling setback didn’t change how Sitake treated Pittman in their postgame interaction last season.

“When you lose, obviously, we were fortunate we won; it’s hard to say some things after the game. It’s hard,” said Pittman.” But he was very respectful of the team and myself and all those things, even after the win. So it’s easy to be a good guy when you win. It’s hard whenever you lose it just is, and that’s about anything.”

BYU vs. Arkansas

Date: Saturday, September 16, 2023

Location: Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium (Fayetteville, Arkansas)

Kickoff: 5:30 p.m.


Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM) — Extended pregame coverage begins at Noon

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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Arkansas Coach Gives High Praise To BYU’s Kalani Sitake