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Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo emerging as strong candidate for Arizona job, per reports

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ken-niumatalolo-arizona-wildcats-navy-head-coach-sumlin-candidate-reports-khalil-tate-2020-pac12 Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Might the Arizona Wildcats be taking a second crack at one of the most accomplished mid-major coaches in college football?

Zach Barnett of FootballScoop.com is reporting that Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo “is a real candidate to be the next coach at Arizona, while Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News tweeted that he’d consider Niumatalolo “the betting favorite for Arizona’s job.”

Niumatalolo was a top candidate for Arizona’s opening in 2018 after Rich Rodriguez was fired, a potential pairing that was torpedoed by then-quarterback Khalil Tate coming out on Twitter saying he “didn’t come to Arizona to run the tripple (sic) option.” That caused Niumatalolo to pull out of the search, per Barnett, and shortly thereafter Arizona hired Kevin Sumlin.

Sumlin was fired Saturday after going 9-20 in three seasons, losing his final 12 games including a 70-7 beatdown by rival ASU on Friday.

Niumatalolo, 55, has been Navy’s head coach since the final game of the 2007 season, when he served as the Midshipmen’s interim coach after Paul Johnson left to take the Georgia Tech job. He has a 101-67 record, including 30-17 in AAC play since Navy joined that conference in 2015, winning six bowl games along the way.

Navy went 3-7 this season, but in 2019 won 11 games and his 2016 team won the AAC title.