Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo set to visit BYU next week
Dec. 13, 2015
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo will visit BYU on Monday to talk about the program's coaching vacancy.
Niumatalolo is 67-37 in eight years at No. 21 Navy, which defeated Army 21-17 Saturday night at Lincoln Financial Field for a series-record 14th straight time. Niumatalolo tied former Army coach Earl "Red" Blaik (8-8-2) for most wins in the series.
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."
"It's my faith," Niumatalolo said. "That's my only reason."
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 (10-2) plays Pittsburgh (8-4) in the Dec. 28 Military Bowl at Annapolis, Maryland.
Niumatalolo is the winningest coach in Navy history. 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."
Niumatalolo said he loved his team too much to not talk to them honestly about his decision to check out BYU.
"I didn't want to be one of those guys that says, 'Read my lips. I'm not going anywhere,' and next thing you know, you see them on the plane somewhere," he said.