BYU, Utah football: Blood is thicker than water
Lifelong Cougar fan changing his colors this week
Once viewed as a rock-solid BYU loyalist, folks in Provo wonder where his loyalties stand these days. A few seasons ago, he had a jersey made, and one side of it was red, the other blue. When asked if he'd pose in that for a picture, Tom declared he just couldn't do that to his son and refused. He is on a fashion binge to wear red for seven days leading up to Saturday's game.
Recently, his wife, who is a vice principal at an Alpine School District school, wanted him to go to a BYU practice and get a football signed. Jackson Unga urged Tom to accompany him, which he did. But he felt the eyes of a few on him at that practice, questioning his motives in being there. Then LaVell Edwards saw him, walked up and shook his hand and said, "Kalani is doing a great job, you must be proud of him."
Then Edwards called him Mr. Blue.
A year ago, after Utah defeated Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham and a group were celebrating and invited him to be part of a photo shoot, which he did. Whittingham introduced Tom Sitake to the others, "This is Mr. Red."
You see the spotlight Tom Sitake dwells in these days.
Still, it's simple for the soft-spoken father, who describes himself as loyal a BYU fan as you will find.
"I will choose my son, I always will. When the game is over, win or lose, he will have my support. If BYU loses this game, I'll feel very sad for those players, but I will be proud of my son," Tom said.
When he talks to Kalani, it is rarely about football. "We talk of family and of his children, my two grandkids that I love so much.
"This will always be about family. There are others who have ties to Utah and BYU," Tom said. "The sad thing is, fans, not players, make this rivalry ugly. They say things that are nasty to players and coaches. I've seen it at both places. Utah fans can be the worst, but BYU fans are equally guilty and they're sober.
"At the end of the day, when the games are over, families remain families and loyalty should always be the priority; it is with me and it should be for us all. This is just a game."
Sitake said, in his opinion, Saturday's game will match two of the best football teams to ever face off in this rivalry.
"It is a huge game and it will be close," he said. "It will be competitive because they both have great players whom I respect. I hate to see one of them lose, but one of them will."The only way I can look at this is both teams should come out and play their best and the best team should win. That's all you can ask for."
BYU-UTAH RIVALRY WEEK
No. 16 BYU at No. 8 Utah
Saturday, 4 p.m.
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