Bronco Mendenhall was hired as Virginia’s head football coach Dec. 4. Since then, there has been little hard information about BYU’s search for Mendenhall’s replacement.
That changed Thursday when Maryland-based Capital Gazette reported that Navy head football coach Ken Niumatalolo would meet with BYU about its vacancy Monday, Dec. 14.
Niumatalolo’s agent told Capital Gazette reporter Bill Wagner about the planned visit, saying, “Kenny is doing his due diligence. He feels strongly that he needs to hear what BYU has to say.”
Niumatalolo is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — a stipulation required for church-sponsored BYU’s head coaching positions, as explained by the school’s athletic director Tom Holmoe in a press conference the night Mendenhall accepted the Virginia job.
Saturday, ESPN aired its College GameDay broadcast from Philadelphia prior to Navy’s rivalry game with Army. Host Rece Davis asked Niumatalolo about the report and why he wants to talk to BYU.
“Several schools contacted my agent and, quite frankly, I wasn’t that interested in them,” Niumatalolo said. “I love the Naval Academy, I love what it stands for. But when this one opened up, it’s different. It’s just different for me.
“My faith is everything to me, so this is the only reason I feel like I need to listen to what they have to offer,” he continued. “That’s it. I love what I’m doing, I’m not a guy trying to solicit for other jobs. I’ve been here 18 years, I love the kids I coach, I love the people I work with. It’s just something inside that I feel like I have to check out.”
Niumatalolo is finishing his eighth season as Navy’s head coach, leading the Midshipmen to a 10-2 record and top-25 ranking with Saturday’s 21-17 win over Army.
The other leading candidate for BYU’s vacancy is believed to be Kalani Sitake, a former BYU player and longtime University of Utah assistant currently serving as defensive coordinator at Oregon State.