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Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo set to visit BYU next week

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Navy’s head coach Ken Niumatalolo on the field during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game between Houston and Navy Saturday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Houston, Texas.

PHILADELPHIA >> Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo will visit BYU on Monday to talk about the program’s head coaching vacancy.

Niumatalolo is 66-37 in eight years at No. 21 Navy and 7-0 against Army headed into the annual game on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field. Navy has defeated Army a series-record 13 straight times. With a win Niumatalolo would match Army’s Earl Blaik for most victories in the series.

“I love the Naval Academy,” Niumatalolo told ESPN’s “College GameDay” on Saturday. “I love what it stands for. But when this one opened up, it’s different. It’s just different for me.”

Niumatalolo’s son, Va’a, is a sophomore linebacker at BYU.

Niumatalolo is a Mormon who went on a two-year mission following his freshman year at the University of Hawaii. Niumatalolo and his family were featured in a recent documentary titled “Meet the Mormons.”

BYU’s job opened when Bronco Mendenhall resigned and accepted the job at Virginia.

“The only thing that is really disturbing, to all of us, is the fact that it’s been played out through the course of the week,” Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk told The Associated Press before Saturday’s game. “It’s been a distraction. This is the biggest game of the year. We’re an institution, and we’re certainly a football program, that’s steeped in team and not about ‘me.’ All of a sudden, it’s become about that.

“It’s been really kind of difficult for some of the players to deal with.”

Navy (9-2) plays Pittsburgh (8-4) in the Dec. 28 Military Bowl at Annapolis, Maryland.

Niumatalolo is the winningest coach in Navy history and will coach the program in his eighth bowl game. He told ESPN that BYU was the only job he was interested in listening to a pitch.

Gladchuk said he talked to Niumatalolo this week about the opening.

“This is a spiritual calling,” Gladchuk said. “It’s not about the job, it’s not about Annapolis. It’s not about the players and the United States Naval Academy or what he’s getting paid. It has to do with the religious affiliation that he has and he just feels strongly that he has to go out and take a look at it.”

Gladchuk said the Midshipmen were focused on beating Army and the program would forge ahead, no matter the coach.

“We’re not going wait too long, that’s for sure,” he said. “We’ve got to recruit, we’ve got to push forward. There’s an old saying, either you’re in or you’re out. We’ll find out pretty quickly. Hopefully, he’s in and we continue with business as usual.”

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  • Looks like coach should have kept his interest in the BYU job under wraps until at least after the Army game so as not to cause any distraction for his team.

    • Can’t imagine BYU hiring anyone not white. Not that he deserved it, but it was a major reason why Chow never was considered as their head coach material. Remember, until the 80’s, Mormons considered all minorities as inferior human beings, only good to be exploited as servants.

  • Kenny should have kept all this under the wraps. This affected the entire team today. Look at how they’re playing. Subpar. Behind against a lowly ranked Army team. Bad decision Kenny N. !

    • Navy, as a federal agency, that needs to be totally free of any religious bias/preference should tell Kenny to take a hike as he clearly puts religion before service to his country.

  • Similar situation with Rolo coming to UH. Yet his prior AD was positive and supportive. Looks like Navy needs to look for a new AD or the present AD needs to do a gut check. He implies that Kenny is all about me, then adds it’s not about the Academy, pay, or players. Sour grapes attitude and comments are not what the Navy Academy stand for. Coaching for the Navy, Army, etc brings additional challenges, good luck in finding a replacement who would work under a non-supportive AD like this guy.

  • LOL!! As I read these comments, about how these sideline “guru’s” are bickering with their personal opinions about a coach who feels strongly that he has to go out and take a look at a vacant job not because of pressure from his present employer but for his personal beliefs..I find it to be unreal and absurd. As an example, every coach, especially at the college level, are not employed as a civil servant, who are guaranteed a retirement when they reach retirement age. It’s really an unstable job that requires “winning” or eventually you may be fired at any time of the contract. It’s not that easy to be in that position especially having to support a family and financially preparing for the future. Gee, let the man seek for what his future will bring him and wish him the best of luck.

    • Exactly. He is not enlisted. What’s with this religion over service to his country? There has been no indication that he has forced his religion upon anyone at his current position. He is not in a civil servant position. It’s been said coaching for the Academy is one of the toughest coaching jobs in college football. He’s given his all for Navy and his record and reputation proves this. If he feels that it’s time for him to move on for whatever reason that may be then let him do so. Some of us follow the successes of locals with pride. Others chose to be in the hater role and pull them down with their sand crab thinking.

    • It IS a civil service position, at least at UH. Your fellow Mormons, Norm and Gib, rode off with millions, although both of them were disgraced and shamed. Niumatalolo makes millions.

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