Editor's note: In honor of Father’s Day, the Deseret News talked to several noteworthy members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about their fathers.
University of Utah head football coach Kyle Whittingham can describe his relationship with his father in one word: “respect.”
“I had the ultimate and utmost respect for him,” Whittingham said of his father, Fred Whittingham. “I try to emulate his work ethic, his toughness and everything he stood for in my own life.”
After retiring from his NFL career as a linebacker, Fred Whittingham coached on the NFL, college and high school levels.
“He got the most out of the players he coached better than anyone else could,” Kyle Whittingham said. “He could really get the most out of your ability. The essence of coaching is getting your players to perform; that was something he excelled at.”
Kyle Whittingham said his coaching techniques and his life have been influenced daily by the lessons he learned from his father to never give up or quit.
“His drive and desire was second to none,” Kyle Whittingham said. “He has, by far, had the most influence and impact on my coaching career of anybody. I’m sure I’m a little biased, but to this day I have never been around a coach that was as good of a teacher or as good with the X’s and the O’s as he was.”
Despite being known as a tough football player and coach, Fred Whittingham had a soft side. He and his wife had four sons and one daughter. Kyle Whittingham remembers the “softening” as beginning when Julie, the youngest in the family and the only daughter, was born.
“I saw his soft side even more when the grandchildren started coming along,” Kyle Whittingham said. “That’s when we really saw the loving and the caring nature of his personality.”
Fred Whittingham passed away due to complications from a back surgery in 2003. Kyle Whittingham said if he could talk to his father one more time, he would express his love for him.
“That’s just something between our two personalities,” Kyle Whittingham said. “Love was always there. I always knew he loved me, and I hope he knew that I loved him, but it was not spoken very much, if at all. ‘I love you’ is probably the message I would have for him.”