Rita first began his CFL coaching career in 1983 as the offensive co-ordinator for the B.C. Lions. He first became a CFL Head Coach in 1991 with the Toronto Argonauts with whom he won his first and only Grey Cup championship as a Head Coach in that same year.
Rita grew up on Kaua'i, Hawai'i and as a young boy, he was a member of a canoe club and appeared paddling a canoe in the wedding scene of the Elvis Presley movie Blue Hawaii.
In 2004, Rita was named General Manager and Vice President of Football Operations of the Toronto Argonauts. Toronto won the 92nd Grey Cup in his first year on the job, but managed only a 48–60 record after that. Rita's contract was not renewed following the 2010 season and he was replaced by head coach Jim Barker.