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Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo blasts Pentagon decision to let Air Force play football

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / DEC. 2019
                                Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo cheered his team on in the first half of the Liberty Bowl NCAA college football game against Kansas State in Memphis, Tenn. Niumatalolo today blasted the Pentagon for allowing the Air Force Academy to play two games in the Commander-in-Chief’s Cup series despite the Mountain West Conference having postponed the rest of its football season.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS / DEC. 2019

    Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo cheered his team on in the first half of the Liberty Bowl NCAA college football game against Kansas State in Memphis, Tenn. Niumatalolo today blasted the Pentagon for allowing the Air Force Academy to play two games in the Commander-in-Chief’s Cup series despite the Mountain West Conference having postponed the rest of its football season.

Navy head football coach Ken Niumatalolo today blasted the Pentagon for allowing the Air Force Academy to play two games in the Commander-in-Chief’s Cup series despite the Mountain West Conference having postponed the rest of its football season.

“I’m sure I’ll get reprimanded,” Niumatalolo said at his weekly media session. “I’m just the head football coach, but that’s how I honestly feel. It’s not right.”

Niumatalo, a Honolulu native and former University of Hawaii quarterback and assistant coach, joked that if he continued to pursue the subject, “My next interview might be coming from Hawaii.”

The Mountain West Board of Directors announced on Aug. 10 that its members would postpone the 2020 fall season, saying, “The fall sports affected by today’s decision include men’s and women’s cross country, football, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball (with the exception of the unique circumstances involved with the military service academies).”

But not until Monday, when Air Force put out its schedule listing an Oct. 3 game with Navy in Colorado Springs, Colo., and a November game at Army-West Point, was it publicly confirmed the games would be played. They are the only two games the Falcons will play.

Navy, which competes in the American Athletic Conference and is defending the trophy it won last year, has an 11-game schedule. Army, an independent, is playing 12.

Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk told the Annapolis Capital Gazette, “The question mark has always been Air Force and whether or not they would field a team. There was some question within their leadership as to whether or not it was appropriate to conduct out-of-season practice to that degree to play two games.”

Niumatalolo said, “Where else in the country would you play for something of value and everybody’s schedules are not the same? This is the No. 1 thing we fight for every year, the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. We’re playing a full schedule. You got Air Force playing just two games? I don’t think those people (in the Pentagon) care.”

Niumatalolo said, “I have no idea who made those decisions. Probably guys who should be making decisions on more important matters than football… They made this a military deal. It’s not a military deal.”

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