‘I am kinda close to that in my career’: Utah’s Whittingham, BYU’s Sitake comment on Jazz coach Quin Snyder’s resignation
At a charity golf function that raised $60,000 for the National Kidney Foundation of Utah and Idaho, local college football coaches talk coaching burnout and mental health
Eight-year Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder’s sudden resignation on Sunday afternoon sent shock waves not only through the NBA, but through the Utah sports community. It was especially noticed by the state’s two other high-profile head coaches, Utah’s Kyle Whittingham and BYU’s Kalani Sitake.
Both men took time out from playing golf in the annual Coaches Legacy Invitational — formerly known as the Rivalry for Charity — at Hidden Valley Country Club to talk about Snyder’s decision, and address their own different situations. The event raised $60,000 for the National Kidney Foundation of Utah and Idaho, according to CEO Deen Vetterli.
“There comes a time when you need a new voice and need a new leader, and obviously (Snyder) felt the time was right for him right now, and I am kinda close to that in my career,” said Whittingham, 62, who has been Utah’s head coach since 2004.
“There comes a time when you need a new voice and need a new leader, and obviously (Quin Snyder) felt the time was right for him right now, and I am kinda close to that in my career.” — Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham
And that wasn’t the only hint that Whittingham gave Monday that his days on the Hill might be coming to an end. Before he stepped in front of print reporters and television cameras, he suggested that Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley — who played in Whittingham’s foursome — should be the doing the interview because he could soon be in that position.
It was said a bit flippantly, so take it as you will.
Sitake, 46, on the other hand, said he is not even thinking about stepping down, when asked about the dangers of burnout and the toll it takes on a coach’s mental health.
“I know for myself I am having so much fun. Maybe there will be a time when I will need to step back,” he said. “But until then I am going to keep hacking away in golf and have as much fun as I can with the young men I get to coach, and interacting with the fans and the media. I am having too much fun right now to think about that.”
Asked if last year’s 26-17 loss to BYU in Provo could have been his last game against the Cougars because the teams aren’t scheduled to meet again until 2024, Whittingham was noncommittal.
“You just never know,” he said. “I can tell you right now that I am excited about this year’s team and what we have got coming in this fall. I have got as much energy as I have ever had. But again, I am hoping and counting on knowing and understanding when the time is right.”
For the record, Whittingham’s team shot an 18-under 54 in the four-man scramble format to defeat Sitake’s team, which shot a 64. Whittingham annually stacks his team with ringers, while Sitake takes a more laid-back approach and brings boosters, friends and staff members, so the outcome was never really in doubt.
Besides, Sitake freely admits, Whittingham is a much better golfer.
“I don’t think BYU fans want to see my golf game improve any time soon,” Sitake said.
Nor do they want to see the popular coach step away, as Snyder did after eight seasons at the helm of the Utah Jazz.
Whittigham called Snyder’s departure “sad,” but also a happy moment if that’s what the former Duke star really wanted.
“I don’t know him real well. I have had a chance to interact a little bit with him,” Whittingham said. “But what a heckuva coach. I respect everything he has done here. We are going to miss him. He is certainly going to have a lot of opportunities and people that are after him, but sad to see him go.”
Sitake, who is a huge NBA and Utah Jazz fan and loves to chat about the sport with reporters during down times between formal interviews, said Snyder’s departure caught him totally by surprise.
“I love the Jazz, and I believe in their leadership, (owner) Ryan Smith and those guys,” Sitake said. “We will see what happens. I don’t know all the details behind it, except for we need a new coach.
“I am just really thankful for what Quin has done for the franchise,” he continued. “It has been a lot of fun watching them play. Looking forward to the future, too. … but as a Jazz fan I hope he knows that we all appreciate him.”
The first Monday in June is a busy day for Sitake and Whittingham, as summer football camps for high schoolers, and especially recruits, begin on their respective campuses. Vetterli said it is “unbelievable” and “phenomenal” that the coaches continue to support the event, which is envied by the other 50 or so NKF franchises around the country.
“It is always good to participate in this event. It is for a great cause, obviously. And our team played well. So, all good,” Whittingham said.