Brothers divided: Sitakes will be on opposite sides of rivalry on Saturday
"I have no mixed feelings at all," T.J. says. "I'm just happy for him. My brother will always love BYU, no matter where he works. I just look at it as him making progress as a coach. This is his first Division I job. It's a great situation for him. When it comes to football, the rivalry's still there. My loyalty's to BYU, of course. That doesn't change how hard I'm going to play for BYU. My heart and my loyalty is with BYU and this team."
For Kalani, taking a job at Utah was an easy choice, doing what was best for him and his family. He also realizes he's not the only one who has jumped from one side to the other in this rivalry. Former BYU wide receiver Aaron Roderick is in his first year as Utah's receivers coach, and Ute head coach Kyle Whittingham was a star linebacker for the Cougars in the 1980s.
"Life is about adjustments. Aaron and I are stuck in the middle," Kalani says. "We have a great role model in Kyle Whittingham. He's handled the situation well. I had a great experience down there (at BYU). Now it's a different chapter in my life. The rivalry is for fans. Football is my life. Right now, I'm a Ute. This is where I'm wanted."
Kalani does acknowledge that it will be strange to be with the opposing team at LaVell Edwards Stadium. "I've never been to the visitor's locker room," he says. "I have no idea what it looks like. There's a first time for everything."
As for the Sitake family, rivalries are nothing new.
"My family's always been the supportive type. They always cheer for people, they don't cheer against people," T.J. says. "This just gives them more people to cheer for. Kalani and I have a brother and sister that went to Utah. We've been in this situation before. Even here in Provo, I went to Timpview High and my sister went to Provo High. We always end up on opposite sides. But it definitely makes it interesting."
There is another family connection in this year's Ute-Cougar matchup. Utah quarterback Brian Johnson and BYU wide receiver Michael Reed, who both hail from Baytown, Texas, are cousins.
Of course, Johnson won't play this week due to a season-ending knee injury.
"We're pretty close. We talk two or three times a week," Johnson says. "I try to keep in contact with him to see what's going on and stuff . . . So it's a pretty close relationship between the two of us."
Prior to this week, the two hadn't talked much about this weekend's showdown.
"We've just been kind of taking the season one game at a time," Johnson says. "And now, obviously, I'm pretty sure we'll get a couple of trash-talking phone calls in between during the week. We really haven't talked about the rivalry, but it ought to be a fun experience."
Johnson is hoping that Reed doesn't have a good game this week."I don't want to see him do well at all," he says. "That's my cousin, but I do want to see the Utes win."
Utah - BYU on the air
Utah (5-5, 3-4) at BYU (6-4, 5-2)
Saturday, 1 p.m., LaVell Edwards Stadium
TV: Ch. 14Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM, 700 AM
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