Kalani Fifita Sitake has a few things in common with Kyle Whittingham, none of which is insignificant in the latter recently naming the former as Utah's new defensive coordinator.
The first is, they are both sons of tough fathers.
Whittingham's dad, Fred, was a long-time college and pro coach whose presence in a locker room was as subtle as a stampeding herd of rhinos. Gary Andersen, the man Sitake replaced a couple of weeks ago, tells a story about Fred, going back to when Andersen was attempting to make the L.A. Rams coming out of college, and Fred was an assistant coach with the club.
"One time, Fred walked through the weight room when a lot of guys were in there lifting, and all the players just stopped what they were doing as he came through. Fred commanded that kind of respect."
Sitake's dad, Tom, was a former rugby player from Tonga -- "I thought he was the strongest man in the world, he was rocked up," Sitake says -- who taught his son, as the family moved from Tonga to Hawaii to Utah to Missouri, with temporary stopovers in other places, to be grateful, be diligent, be strong, be humble, be hopeful. "He was the most influential person in my life," says Sitake. "He was kind to people, he treated them well, but he wanted his kids to work hard. He made us run hills. He used to say to me when I was young, 'I wonder what the guy who's going for your scholarship is doing right now.' He wanted to prepare me for football, and prepare me for life. When I went to BYU, it was easy compared to the workouts I had done with my dad."