clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The case for Ken Niumatalolo as Maryland's next football coach

New, 82 comments

Why would Maryland consider Ken Niumatalolo? A better question might be why would he consider Maryland?

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Over the coming weeks and months, the Maryland football program will search for a new head coach to replace the departed Randy Edsall. We know who the candidates are, but who should Maryland pick? We'll state every coach's case, whether he wants the job or not, in 500 words or less (or maybe a few more).

Ken Niumatalolo, Navy head coach

Likelihood scale: 3/10

The resume

Ken Niumatalolo isn't the youngest coach on the list of possible successors to interim coach Mike Locksley - he'll be 51 when the 2016 season rolls around - but he has an impressive record at Navy. In fact, at 64-36, he is the winningest coach in Navy's history accomplishing that in just a bit over seven years. George Welsh won 55 games from 1974 - 1981. You have to go all the way back to Eddie Erdelatz in the 1950s to find another Navy coach who has 50 career wins.

A Mormon, Niumatalolo served his two year mission before becoming the starting quarterback for the University of Hawaii and leading them to their first ever bowl game in his senior season in 1989. He was a graduate assistant for Paul Johnson at Hawaii before following Johnson to Navy when the now Georgia Tech coach became the Midshipmen's offensive coordinator. Niumatalolo spent three years as an assistant at UNLV before returning to Navy as offensive coordinator under Johnson. He became head coach for the 2007 Poinsettia Bowl.

In his first seven full seasons, Navy has won fewer than eight games only once (5-7 in 2011). In 2009, Navy won 10 games for only the third time in the Academy's history. Additionally, Niumatalolo is the only Navy coach to win his first seven games against Army and, when the Mids topped Notre Dame in 2010, it was only the third time they had beaten the Irish in back to back seasons.

The benefits

Niumatalolo is an absolute winner who has taken Navy to six bowl games in his first years. This year, Navy is not only guaranteed a seventh bowl appearance but is in contention for a possible New Year's Day bowl game. In his first season, Navy defeated four bowl teams and registered a win over then 16th-ranked Wake Forest. This year Navy traveled to Memphis and Niumatalolo topped one of the prospects that so excites Maryland fans - Justin Fuente. The Midshipmen will face another possible candidate in Tom Herman when they travel to Houston later in the season and might have a meeting against Matt Ruhle and Temple in the AAC title game.

As an experienced FBS quarterback, one would expect that Niumatololo could be an ideal pick to work with Dwayne Haskins and oversee the prized freshman's development. At Navy, Niumatalolo has followed his mentor's success in utilizing the triple option and has maintained a dominating rushing attack that is consistently in the top ten nationally despite typically undersized offensive lines.

Niumatalolo certainly knows the area and he already has ties to the University of Maryland, where his daughter Alexcia played lacrosse for Cathy Reese.

The drawbacks

The three biggest question marks surrounding Niumatalolo are his ability to recruit in a Big Ten world of football that is far different from his experience at Navy. Additionally, the players who come to Navy are also already likely to be very disciplined and receptive to a very disciplined approach. And the last question would be his ability and willingness to adjust his offensive philosophy if he needed to move away from the triple option he has run so successfully. That wouldn't be a fit for pro-style quarterback Haskins.

In one sentence

Niumatalolo is a winner on the field and he certainly fills the bill with regard to academics and media relations but whether he can navigate the donor driven world of power five football and is the man to excite the donor base remain open questions.