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Khalil Tate’s tweet ‘spooked’ Arizona about hiring Ken Niumatalolo, per report

Looks like the star QB’s opinion wasn’t unheard

NCAA Football: Cincinnati at Navy Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Shortly after Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo was reported as the frontrunner for the Arizona Wildcats’ head coaching job, UA star quarterback Khalil Tate let the world know what he thought of Niumatalolo’s offense.

“I didn’t come to Arizona to run the triple-option,” Tate tweeted, then deleted.

While not necessarily an indictment of Niumatalolo himself, it was clear Tate wasn’t too thrilled about the possibility of switching schemes, especially to one that is even more run-heavy than Rich Rodriguez’s.

And, according to a report from Football Scoop, Tate’s tweet resonated with UA president Robert C. Robbins (the two were sitting courtside together at the Arizona basketball game Thursday vs. Oregon State).

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.

Earlier in the search, the Arizona Daily Star published an article saying Tate would not be transferring from Arizona, using a quote from his mother as the source.

To which Tate tweeted, “Khalil did not say that, his mother did.”

So it seems Tate is trying to wield any leverage he has in Arizona’s coaching search — he also vouched for Marcel Yates’ candidacy — and it appears Arizona is at least taking his thoughts into consideration.

Niumatalolo wound up withdrawing from Arizona’s coaching search on Sunday morning, saying “USNA is a special place with special people and I love it here. Plus, I have unfinished business!”

It was reported that he had been offered the head coaching position.