Navy is changing football coaches. What won’t be different – according to athletic director Chet Gladchuk – are the expectations for the program.
“Our objective has always been to win the Commander-In-Chief Trophy, which is reasonable,” Gladchuk said Monday. “And then No. 2, you win six games in the year, which essentially is the Commander-In-Chief Trophy and four games, gets us to six, which gets us in a bowl game. That has been the constant bar that we’ve strived for, is to achieve those two goals, which are I believe very realistic.”
Navy hasn’t achieved either of those goals since 2019, and now Ken Niumatalolo – the winningest coach in the academy’s history – is out of a job. That was announced Sunday, and Gladchuk spoke with reporters a day later to explain his thinking.
He was asked if he’d made it clear to Niumatalolo about the standard the coach needed to reach.
“I spoke directly to his representative, who asked me exactly that question,” Gladchuk said. “I conveyed it to him, and I also conveyed it, as I mentioned, for 20 years to the head coach every year.”
Hiring a new coach brings a lot of uncertainty to Navy, which went 109-83 in Niumatalolo’s 15 seasons. That included 10 bowl appearances.
Navy has won the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy – awarded based on the games Navy, Army and Air Force play against each other – 11 times in the past 20 years. In Niumatalolo’s tenure, Navy won it six times, the most of any academy.
But Navy has gone just 4-10 against Air Force and Army in the past seven years, and the Midshipmen were 11-23 overall the past three seasons. That included a loss this year to FCS Delaware.
After a loss to Air Force last year, the status of longtime offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper was in limbo. Niumatalolo said Gladchuk decided to fire Jasper, but after further discussion, Jasper remained with the staff in his other role as quarterbacks coach.
There have been occasional promising signs – wins over Central Florida the past two years, for example – but the last game of Niumatalolo’s tenure was a double-overtime loss to Army in which both teams struggled to move the ball.
Any coaching change at Navy will raise questions about whether the program will stick to its triple-option offense. Gladchuk said the Midshipmen likely would.
“The triple option is really the fiber of who we are,” Gladchuk said. “I really think that the basic tenets of what is the chemistry of who we are revolves around the advantage that’s achieved with that style of offense. … I’m not necessarily saying the coach has got to be pure triple option … but the philosophies behind it are really important.”