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Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo a ‘strong candidate’ for Arizona job, per report

Would he run the option in Tucson?

Tulane v Navy Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo is emerging as a strong candidate for the Arizona Wildcats job, according to ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg.

Rittenberg also mentions Cal offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin and ex-Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, who was reportedly at Rincon Market the other day, are in the mix and that the search “seems to be entering the home stretch.”

FootballScoop takes it a step further saying Arizona and Niumatalolo are negotiating a deal with one source telling them, “unless they mess this up, Kenny is going to Arizona.”

Niumatalolo has an incredible track record at Navy, compiling an 84-48 record in 10 seasons as the head coach. The 52-year-old Hawaiian is a two-time American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year (2015, 2016) and has led Navy to two double-digit win seasons (2009, 2015).

Niumatalolo runs the triple option at Navy and is a disciple of both Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson and former UA coach Dick Tomey who both run/ran the option.

So, if Niumatalolo does become Arizona’s next head coach, it will be interesting to see if he sticks to that or if he tailors the offense to better fit Khalil Tate’s skill set as a passer.

For what it is worth, the service academies really have no choice but to run the option because of their lack of size.

Arizona ran the option in its glory years under Tomey, but only one Power Five school (Georgia Tech) runs it today.

Niumatalolo has been at Navy since 2002 and became the head coach in 2007.

A member of the Church of Latter Day Saints, Niumatalolo turned down the BYU job in December 2015, which some thought was because the school wanted him to run a different offense.

Niumatalolo played quarterback at Hawaii from 1987-89. Here is his full coaching history:

  • 1990-94 — Hawaii (GA)
  • 1995-96 — Navy (RB)
  • 1997-98 — Navy (OC/QB)
  • 1999-2001 — UNLV (TE/ST)
  • 2002-07 — (AHC/OL)
  • 2007-present — Navy (HC)

Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire