Navy's Ken Niumatalolo Apologizes for Calling Out Pentagon for CIC Trophy Series

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 15, 2020

Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo looks ontonthe field during the second half of an NCAA college football game against the BYU, Monday, Sept. 7, 2020, in Annapolis, Md. (AP Photo/Tommy Gilligan)
Tommy Gilligan/Associated Press

When you coach at a service academy, you can't necessarily vent your frustration toward the powers that be within a traditional university structure.

Navy head football coach Ken Niumatalolo criticized the decision to carry on with the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy series despite the fact Air Force has only two games scheduled this season. Niumatalolo directed his ire toward "guys at the Pentagon," per ESPN:

"Where else in the country would you play for something of value and everybody's schedules are not the same? This is the No. 1 thing we fight for every year—the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. We're playing a full schedule. You got Air Force playing just two games? I don't think those people care. [...]

"This is above us. This is guys at the Pentagon making decisions. I have no idea where they're getting their data from. They didn't get it from me, so they're not getting any football data. Like I said, nobody asked me."

Niumatalolo has since apologized for his remarks, per the Capital Gazette's Bill Wagner"I should not have said some of the stuff I said and I'm sorry I did. The Pentagon has nothing to do with this and it was wrong of me to suggest that was the case. ... I sometimes get myself in trouble by speaking my mind. This was an instance when I should have kept my thoughts to myself."

Army is an independent in football, while Navy and its American Athletic Conference colleagues are carrying on with a 2020 fall football season. As a result, the Black Knights and Midshipmen will be playing 12 and 11 games, respectively.

Air Force, on the other hand, saw the vast majority of its schedule scrapped when the Mountain West Conference postponed its fall season.

Naval Academy athletic director Chet Gladchuk told Wagner the superintendents from the Air Force, Army and Navy agreed to move forward with staging the three games for the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy.

"The question mark has always been Air Force and whether or not they would field a team," Gladchuk said. "There was some question within their leadership as to whether or not it was appropriate to conduct out-of-season practice to that degree to play two games."

Air Force plays Navy on Oct. 3 at home in Colorado Springs, Colorado, before facing off with Army on Nov. 7 in West Point, New York.

The Falcons' unique schedule could work to their benefit or detriment. On one hand, head coach Troy Calhoun has extra time to draw up a game plan. On the other hand, his team could face a difficult adjustment to actual game situations.

Should Air Force go on to lift the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy for the first time since 2016, this might not be the last Niumatalolo has to say on the matter.


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