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What Kyle Whittingham, Kalani Sitake said about their starting QBs at annual charity golf event

In the 32nd Annual Coaches Legacy Golf Invitational benefitting the National Kidney Foundation of Utah and Idaho, there was more talk about golf than football with the rivalry game 96 days away.

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BYU’s Kalani Sitake appears at the Coaches Legacy Golf Invitational at Hidden Valley Country Club.

BYU football coach Kalani Sitake marks his scorecard during the Coaches Legacy Golf Invitational at Hidden Valley Country Club in Sandy on Monday, June 7, 2021.

Annie Barker, Deseret News

After they had played 18 holes of golf on different teams in a scramble tournament on Monday morning at Hidden Valley Country Club to benefit the National Kidney Foundation of Utah and Idaho and enjoyed a buffet luncheon, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham and BYU coach Kalani Sitake finally got down to business and fielded the question on the minds of college football fans throughout the state.

Who will be their starting quarterbacks?

Yeah, right. Like these two veteran coaches were about to spill the beans after eating the pork and beans, hamburgers, salads and deserts and putting for pars, birdies and eagles.

The question, which came from the back of the room, drew laughter, but not much information.

“These guys are awesome, wonderful people, extraordinary humanitarians and obviously great coaches as well. We couldn’t do this without them.” — Deen Vetterli, CEO of the National Kidney Foundation of Utah and Idaho

Sitake was a bit more forthright, saying at BYU the derby has been whittled down to three: Baylor Romney, Jacob Conover and Jaren Hall. That means freshman Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters is out of the running, Sitake acknowledged later, saying a video review of every rep taken in spring camp trimmed the field.

“I gotta go with the best guy, so it is up to them,” Sitake said.

Asked to be more specific, he said, “I know who the (starting) kicker and punter are.” That would be 2020 starters Jake Oldroyd and Ryan Rehkow, obviously.

Whittingham brought up the name of Baylor transfer Charlie Brewer first, but said Cam Rising “is right there.” He also said the Utes are excited about “three promising young freshmen.”

But while football talk was at a minimum, the mutual admiration society the coaches have between them continues.

Whittingham even praised BYU’s recent 11-1 season and finish — No. 11 — in the Associated Press Top 25.

Their friendship “is unique,” Whittingham said. “I appreciate Kalani. He and I have been together for a lot of years. He did a great job for us on the Hill. Congratulations to him, that was a tremendous season they put together. We are always going to be good friends. Nothing will change with that.”

Sitake continues to see Whittingham as a mentor, and a better golfer than he is. More on that later. Whittingham said Sitake has better calves, to which Sitake responded, “it is just because I eat more.”

“I love him,” Sitake said. “Kyle has done a lot for me and my family. He and (his wife) Jamie, and his mother and his siblings, too. I am just really thankful to have Kyle around. We talk often. I will always have him on my side.”

In past years, much has been made of the competition on the golf course and the coach whose team lost would sing their rival’s fight song. The late LaVell Edwards and Ron McBride made those get-togethers must-see TV with their quips, antics and altered, humorous lyrics.

Those days are gone, replaced by the coaches talking about their upcoming seasons and taking a question or two from the audience.

Deen Vetterli, CEO of the NK of Utah and Idaho, says Utahns don’t realize how phenomenal it is to get rival coaches from the same geographic areas to give up the first Monday in June every year when recruiting and camps are in full swing to promote a good cause.

“These guys are awesome, wonderful people, extraordinary humanitarians and obviously great coaches as well,” she said. “We couldn’t do this without them.”

Monday’s gathering was the 32nd annual event, which has been rebranded as the “Coaches Legacy Golf Invitational” rather than the “Rivalry for Charity.” Of course, last year’s affair had to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, just as the Utah-BYU football game fell by the wayside as well.

Speaking of which, the Utes and Cougars are set to meet in 96 days in Provo — on Sept. 11 at 8:15 p.m. on ESPN.

“Yeah, we got the game back this year after last year having a year off, but it is back on schedule for the second week of the season, so that’s good,” Whittingham said.

Sitake, who is entering his sixth season at BYU, said there will be time later to discuss the matchup. Monday was all about doing something good for the community and kidney patients who need funding for dialysis or a kidney transplant.

“It’s just great that appears like everything is getting back to normal,” Sitake said. “I don’t think the goal was to see who had the best golf swing today. I think the goal was to help people and have fun and connect with people, especially after the year we just went through.”

For the record, Whittingham’s team of former State Am champion Dan Horner and Utah boosters Bill Nehmer and Greg Jenson shot a 14-under-par 58 and placed second in the competition for teams with no limitations on ringers.

That tournament was won by the team of Tim Glen, Stuart Clayson, Susan Wood and Jim Divver. They shot a 55.

Sitake’s team of Jon Swift, Rob Brough and Cougars golfer Max Brenchley shot a 61 and placed fifth.

“I am not really good at golf, but I don’t think BYU fans want me to get really good at golf right now,” Sitake said.

Whittingham, who always seems to try harder to put a team of outstanding golfers together, said he caught the golf bug about 8-9 years ago and is slowly improving.

“I really enjoy it,” Whittingham said. “The window to play it is so small, so I never really get a chance to get better.”

In the competition for teams with a combined handicap of 43 or higher, the Hansgen family of Utah County — Jed, John, Dan and Jasmine — prevailed with a 61. They beat BYU deputy athletic director Brian Santiago, Mark Vosti, Brandon Pulsipher and Vaughn Pulsipher in a scorecard playoff after that team also shot 61.

The Hansgens earned the right to play in the national tournament at Streamstrong Golf Resort in Florida.

Jasmine Hansgen won the long drive prize and Jim Divver won the closest-to-the-hole prize.