BYU could pursue Navy football coach Ken Niumatalolo

Bill Wagner
Contact Reporterbwagner@capgaznews.com
Could Ken Niumatalolo leave Navy?

Navy football coach Ken Niumatalolo has been mentioned prominently by multiple media outlets as a candidate for the vacancy at Brigham Young University.

BYU suddenly found itself looking for a new head coach after Bronco Mendenhall resigned and accepted the job at Virginia. Mendenhall compiled a 99-42 record and led the Cougars to a bowl game in all 11 of his seasons at the helm.

Speaking to reporters last Thursday night after learning of Mendenhall's departure, BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe reiterated the most important qualification for becoming head football coach at the school: Candidates must be a member in good standing of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"If you look around the country at all the candidates, I know all of them," Holmoe told various media outlets. "I don't need a search firm to tell me who they are. The pool could be 40 candidates for a job such as Bronco's."

Actually, most analysts who cover BYU football on a regular basis believe the list of viable candidates is much smaller with Niumatalolo and Utah's Kyle Whittingham the only proven head coaches in the mix.

Whittingham was offered the BYU head coaching job back in 2004 after Gary Crowton was fired, but reportedly turned it down to remain at Utah. Whittingham, a BYU graduate and defensive specialist, boasts a 93-46 record in 11 seasons at Utah. The 56-year-old led the Utes to a 13-0 record and berth in the Sugar Bowl in 2008.

Niumatalolo is the all-time winningest coach in Naval Academy history, having compiled a 66-37 record over eight seasons. He was named head coach prior to the 2007 Poinsettia Bowl against Utah.

The Midshipmen posted a 10-4 record in 2009 and have three nine-win seasons during the Niumatalolo era. This year's team, which is ranked No. 21 in both the College Football Playoff and Associated Press polls, is 9-2 and can set the single-season school record for wins by beating archrival Army on Saturday and Pittsburgh in the Military Bowl.

Niumatalolo is a lifelong LDS member and extremely devout in his faith. The 50-year-old Hawaiian and his family were featured in a segment of last summer's documentary titled "Meet the Mormons." Va'a Niumatalolo, the coach's son, is a sophomore linebacker at BYU.

One element of Niumatalolo's resume that might give BYU pause is that he's a career practitioner of the triple-option running attack. BYU has always fielded high-powered passing offenses led by such talented quarterbacks as Gifford Nielsen, Jim McMahon, Steve Young and Ty Detmer among others.

Others mentioned as top candidates for the BYU head coaching job include Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, Stanford defensive coordinator Lance Anderson and Oregon State defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake. Robert Anae, who has been offensive coordinator at BYU since 2005 and was recently promoted to assistant head coach, is considered the top in-house prospect.

"I'm looking for leadership, expertise, someone that has a great connection with players and can bring the best out of their players," Holmoe told reporters. "I'm looking for someone who can be fully aligned with the mission of the school. Recruiting is a huge part these days."

Because BYU is a private institution, Mendenhall's salary was unknown. According to published reports, Mendenhall received a five-year contract from Virginia that will pay him $3.25 million per year.

According to a USA Today list of college football head coaching salaries, Niumatalolo is earning $1,637,803 per year. However, Niumatalolo's total compensation package is far greater as it also includes use of a home and automobile among other things.

Evan Beard, Niumatalolo's agent since he became head coach at Navy, did not respond to multiple voice and text messages seeking comment.

Copyright © 2017, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
43°