LAS VEGAS — Navy football coach Ken Niumatalolo was offered the job to be BYU’s new head coach this week — but apparently that offer came with stipulations.
Sources with knowledge of the negotiations between BYU and Niumatalolo — who decided Wednesday night to remain at Navy — indicated that Niumatalolo may not have been the school’s first choice to lead the program.
“I’m not sure Kenny was the guy they wanted. They were slow at every turn,” said a source close to the Niumatalolo camp who spoke under the condition of anonymity. “At the end of the day, I think (BYU athletic director) Tom (Holmoe) was nervous throughout the entire process and it showed. Maybe they have their guy out there. It felt like they extended a contract that was fine but you didn’t get a good feeling on a lot of different things."
Those “different things” may have had to do with the type of staff and the style of offense — the triple option — Niumatalolo would have brought to Provo.
Attempts to reach BYU officials for comment were unsuccessful.
By staying, Niumatalolo and his staff received a hefty pay raise at Navy, according to sources. “Kenny’s in a very good spot,” one said.
Evan Beard, Niumatalolo’s agent, told the Capital Gazette that Niumatalolo did not want this process to drag on like it did.
Niumatalolo visited BYU’s campus Monday and met with school officials and LDS leaders while in Utah.
“Kenny felt compelled to perform his due diligence and properly evaluate this opportunity,” Beard said. “Kenny was able to evaluate both situations and came to the conclusion that Navy is where he wants to be.”
“It was tough,” Niumatalolo told the Capital Gazette of the decision-making process. “While head football coach at BYU is not a church position, that individual is a very public figure within the faith. My faith and the Mormon Church are very, very important to me so that was very powerful.”
Niumatalolo’s son, Va’a, is a sophomore linebacker at BYU while another son, Ali’i, recently committed to Boise State. Had Niumatalolo become the Cougars' next coach, it's likely Ali'i would have signed with BYU instead.
“The opportunity to possibly coach both of my sons was also a strong consideration,” Niumatalolo added. “At the same time, being the head football coach at the United States Naval Academy is also a huge responsibility because you are representing the country.”
With Niumatalolo out of the running, BYU’s pool of candidates has shrunk even more and it appears Oregon State defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake is the focus of the school’s coaching search. Sitake has met with BYU and LDS Church leaders this week.