PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – When BYU plays #7 Texas on Saturday, two former Cougars players will be coaching against each other.
Kalani Sitake and Steve Sarkisian never played together, but both were at BYU at the same time. Sitake has nothing but respect for the coaching job Sarkisian has done with the undefeated Longhorns.
“A really really good team, one of the best in the country, well coached, coached by my buddy Sark.”
Sarkisian was a BYU quarterback from 1995-96. Sitake was on his church mission during those years, but they formed a bond in college.
“Obviously my alma mater, I know a lot of those coaches well,” Sarkisian said. “Kalani Sitake and I were teammates back in the day.”
“Sark’s been so good to me throughout our coaching careers,” Sitake said. “He’s always been a guy I could turn to. We keep in touch quite often. Obviously not keeping in touch right now because we’re opponents, but I appreciate his friendship.”
That friendship started when Sarkisian visited the BYU campus in 1994, and Sitake was one of his hosts.
“I don’t want to sit here and act like I did a good job, the football at BYU speaks for itself,” Sitake said. “He didn’t come because of a host. We hung out and played ping-pong or whatever it was. He saw the comaraderie, the family atmosphere here, the love the players have for each other, and he was drawn to it. I was just a small part of it.”
Another part of the reason Sarkisian ended up at BYU was head coach LaVell Edwards. Like Sitake, Sarkisian has tried to model his coaching style after LaVell.
“I think one thing he did a great job of in my time there was making you feel like the coach believed in you, that there was rapport there as the quarterback,” Sarkisian said. “I was his guy. He believed in what I was able to do, and that’s something I think we’ve tried to do here.”
Sarkisian had a great career at BYU, leading the Cougars to a then-NCAA record 14-win season during his senior year.S
“He did some wonderful things here as a player,” Sitake said. “But you see the things he’s doing even after playing, keeping in touch with people, caring about others. That’s the best park of Sark that I enjoy. The fact that he’s a Cougar, that he played here, it’s nice that we keep the friendship.”
BYU and Texas will kick off at 1:30 p.m. Saturday on ABC4.