Ken Niumatalolo may or may not have been offered the job at Arizona, but he’s not leaving Navy for it.
Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo emerged as the favorite to replace Rich Rodriguez at Arizona on Friday, followed by a small protest from his potential new starting quarterback. After reportedly being offered the job, and denial of that from the school, it was reported separately that Niumatalolo was in negotiations to take the job in Tucson.
Now on Sunday, per multiple reports, Niumatalolo has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Arizona job.
As College Football Talk notes, Niumatololo did a similar dance regarding “we never offered you the job/well, I’m passing” with BYU two years ago, leading that school to hiring Kalani Sitake. He obviously stayed at Navy then, before surfacing as a candidate at Cal a little over a year ago. Despite being as synonymous with Navy football as anyone could be, with 10 seasons now as head coach and runs as an assistant coach from 1995-1998 and 2002-2007, Niumatalolo’s name would not be surfacing for job openings unless he had his eye on leaving.
According to Football Scoop, Khalil Tate’s quickly-deleted tweet regarding an aversion to the triple-option offense Niumatalolo runs at Navy resonated with the powers-that-be at Arizona.
"Sources tell FootballScoop this tweet spooked Arizona’s president and gave him pause during the search. Arizona and Niumatalolo were already well into negotiations at this point sources tell FootballScoop.Saturday morning both the search firm and Niumatalolo thought they would get a deal done we are told; but University leadership had yet to fully approve the hire. Later Saturday the public began to see tweets DHR hoped would begin to sway Arizona leadership back in support of Niumatalolo; but it appears those tweets (from writers and coaches) were about two days too late. Some might suppose the firm should have been more proactive in addressing known potential concerns of star players; but alas some seem to value secrecy over hiring the right man."
Arizona’s search for a new football coach will now continue to move forward, perhaps very quickly to make a hire. Former Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin has to be regarded as the (new?) favorite.