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BYU, Utah football coaches team up on the golf course

Published June 19, 2017 5:00 pm

Charity • Annual event lacks fight songs, but raises $50,000.
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Sandy • Want more evidence that the once-bitter Utah-BYU football rivalry is thawing out?

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham and BYU coach Kalani Sitake teamed up Monday in the 29th annual Rivalry for Charity golf tournament rather than compete against each other to avoid having to sing the other school's fight song as in past years.

So there was no awful singing and butchering of "Utah Man" or "Rise and Shout" during the post-tournament luncheon at the Hidden Valley Country Club clubhouse for the event that raised more than $50,000 for the National Kidney Foundation of Utah and Idaho. But there were more hugs, back slaps and high-fives than ever before, and Foundation CEO Deen Vetterli couldn't have been happier.

"It is a new era and a different setting, but it is more fun because they are good friends," Vetterli said. "They really like each other, and this is how they wanted to do it. They both said the Rivalry for Charity [event] will continue. Both were adamant that they will be back next year before any of us even asked them."

The coaches whose teams will battle at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Sept. 9 not only played on the same four-person scramble team, they rode in the same golf cart until Whittingham had to leave early for his football camp.

Their team, which also included Brad Johnson and Troy Tait, fired a 12-under-par 60 — better than average among the 33 teams in the tournament.

What in the name of Bronco Mendenhall is going on here?

"Kyle just called me a couple weeks ago and asked if we could play together, and I agreed," Sitake said. "We are always competing at stuff, whether it is for recruits or on the football field. We thought it would be good for us to join forces and play for the Kidney Foundation. I had a great time playing with him."

Whittingham's team edged Sitake's team last year, and the rookie coach had to belt out "Utah Man," with help from his assistant coaches. Ty Detmer, Ed Lamb and Ilaisa Tuiaki participated Monday, and Detmer said they appreciated the new format and camaraderie that exists between the staffs now that Mendenhall has moved on to Virginia.

It wasn't the first time Whittingham and Sitake have joined up on the links, and it won't be the last, Sitake said.

"I played with him a couple times earlier this summer. It is nice to compete together," said the second-year coach who spent 10 seasons at Utah from 2005 to 2014. "We didn't place in the top six or anything, but it was just nice to hang out and talk and for the most part we were able to talk about ideas. He is still a mentor to me, so it was really good for me to catch up with him, and I am glad he thought of doing it a different way to do it this year."

Utah director of football operations Jeff Rudi represented Whittingham at the luncheon and said the Utes will begin training camp Aug. 26. He said most of the players already are in town, but the staff still is waiting on a couple of late arrivals.

Sitake took a more humorous approach. When he said, "We are not going to be very good," the room erupted in laughter, and there was more hooting and clapping when he said, "We need a quarterback and we need a punter who can convert a fourth-and-19."

He was referring to how punter Johnny Linehan, who returns this fall, was stopped inside the 5-yard line against Boise State last October.

Then Sitake referred to an Edwards adage, as he often does: "We have a good chance to be pretty good."

As for comparing golf games, Sitake said he is nowhere close to Whittinham.

"I don't have enough years on the golf course to even consider myself decent," Sitake said. "So I will try to work on it, but in the meantime I have some other things on my priority list."

A foursome that included BYU senior associate athletics director Brian Santiago, former BYU quarterback Robbie Bosco and BYU boosters Vaughn and Brandon Pulsipher shot a 14-under 58 to win the tournament after a scorecard playoff over the second-place group of Shawn Anderson, Jon Ballantyne, Bret Liechty and Chuck Liechty.

The BYU group, whose combined handicap had to be more than 43 to qualify, with just one player with a handicap index of 8 or lower, is eligible to move on to the Liberty Mutual National Championship at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort in South Carolina next March.

drew@sltrib.com Twitter@drewjay






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