It was just about a month ago when the best coach in Navy Football history almost walked away from the Midshipmen.
On Thursday Ken Niumatalolo is talked for the first time about why he returned to Annapolis and turned down Arizona. He sat down for an exclusive 1-on-1 conversation with ABC2 News’ Shawn Stepner at the Naval Academy.
“I am totally 100 percent sure at the United States Naval Academy,” said the head coach.
That’s why Ken Niumatalolo is back. The winningest coach in Navy football history explained why after ten seasons as the head coach in Annapolis he decided to return for an eleventh instead of leaving for the head coaching job at University of Arizona.
“It was actually really enticing. I was actually pretty close to maybe taking a strong look at taking it. But ultimately things didn’t work out on both sides,” said Niumatalolo. “From the perspective of my career everything points to take it and run. Power five job, PAC 12 (conference), both of my sons are in Utah, my daughter is in Hawaii, financially. There are just some things on both sides that they questioned and I questioned and I wasn’t sure. And I’m sure here. Why would I take something or go somewhere where there are question marks on both sides? What do you run on offense? What kind of support am I going to have there?”
Niumatalolo interviewed for the Wildcats gig a month ago. It’s far from the first time he’s had a chance to leave Navy.
“For the last five to six years there’s been opportunities every year,” he said. “Quite frankly a lot of them I’m like ‘No I’m not interested.’ There was some interest on this side.”
Just like there was interest two years ago when he was courted by Brigham Young. After taking his name out of the running at BYU he signed a five-plus year contract extension with Navy. He said he didn’t rework his contract this time around.
“It wasn’t about that (money). It wasn’t about me going and like ‘I’ll come back to Navy if I get this.’”
What it was about he says was feel. He feels right in Annapolis. And feels right staying with his offensive coordinator and friend Ivin Jasper and the Jasper family. Ivin’s son Jarren underwent heart transplant surgery last week.
“My wife, she’d say stuff: ‘Honey is this the right time? Jarren could be getting his heart any time soon.' It definitely was a factor,” said Niumatalolo.
Ivin Jasper is in line for the Mids head coaching job if Niumatalolo ever does end up leaving.
That is at least another year away.