ANNAPOLIS, Md. >> Norm Chow and Ken Niumatalolo will make history Saturday in the first FBS college football game matching head coaches who are products of Hawaii high schools when Hawaii and Navy play here. It’s also believed to be the first time both head coaches are of Polynesian descent.
“It’s really cool. Norm told me, we’re good friends,” Niumatalolo said after today’s practice. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Norm, besides the football part. He’s a guy who’s coached three Heismans, three national championships. The guy is a heck of a coach and a good person. It’s exciting to go against someone you have great respect for.”
Chow, a Punahou graduate, is part-Hawaiian. Niumatalolo, a Radford graduate, is of Samoan ancestry.
“I think Ken Niumatalolo is a tremendous football coach. More importantly he’s a tremendous young man,” said Chow, after UH’s game at Utah State last Saturday. “Once the game starts he’s another opponent but Kenny’s a very special person and has such great values. He’s someone you’d like to be like.”
Both teams are hungry for a win. Hawaii is 0-8 after falling 47-10 to the Aggies, and Navy is 4-4 and fighting for bowl eligibility after nearly upsetting Notre Dame in a 38-34 loss at South Bend on Saturday.
The last time the schools met Hawaii beat Navy 24-17 at Aloha Stadium in 2009 when former Navy assistant Greg McMackin was the UH coach.
“They played well. Hawaii played well,” said Niumatalolo, a former UH quarterback and assistant coach who is in his sixth season with a 44-30 record as Navy’s coach. “More important than that, (now) they’re just trying to win a game. For them it doesn’t matter if it’s the Naval Academy or Utah State. Both of us are just trying to win games. We need a win badly. They need a win. That’s how both of us are approaching it, got to win a football game.”