Friday, March 1, 2024

San Jose State to hire Ken Niumatalolo: All-time winningest Navy coach poised to take over Spartans program

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San Jose State is set to hire former Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo to replace Brent Brennan, according to 247Sports. Niumatalolo will replace Brent Brennan, who accepted the Arizona job this amid a wave of job openings stemming from Nick Saban’s retirement at Alabama

Niumatalolo recently accepted the tight ends job at UCLA after he spent the 2023 season in a support staff role with the coach Chip Kelly and the Bruins. He will bring ample head-coaching experience to SJSU after a 15-year run with Navy from 2007-22 during which he compiled a 109-83 record. Niumatalolo is Navy’s all-time wins leader, led the program to six bowl victories and posted a 10-5 record vs. Army.

What Niumatalolo will not be bringing with him to San Jose State, however, will be the triple-option offensive scheme that wreaked havoc on opposing defenses as he led the Midshipmen to relevance. According to ESPN, Niumatalolo is currently targeting an offensive coordinator who will install more of a wide-open offense with emphasis on the pass. 

Though largely successful during his tenure, Navy took a downturn under Niumatalolo amid the sport’s changing landscape. The Midshipmen limped to an 11-23 record during his final three seasons after going 11-2 in 2019. Precautions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic left Navy ill-prepared in 2020, and Niumatalolo struggled to find a winning formula for a program with stringent admissions standards in the transfer portal era.

No such challenges will await him at San Jose State, a program which has earned bowl game berths in three of the past four seasons under Brennan. 

San Jose State’s hire ends a busy late lap for college football’s coaching carousel, although things could start spinning once again if Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh leaves the Wolverines for an NFL job. After Saban retired earlier this month, Alabama hired Washington coach Kalen DeBoer as his replacement. 

Washington then hired Arizona coach Jedd Fisch as DeBoer’s replacement, while San Jose State snatched Brennan. Additionally, DeBoer hired South Alabama coach Kane Wommack as his defensive coordinator and Buffalo coach Maurice Linguist as a defensive assistant. South Alabama has since promoted offensive coordinator Major Applewhite to head coach while Buffalo is continuing its search for Linguist’s replacement.

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