Former Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo joins UCLA staff

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LOS ANGELES — Former Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo is joining UCLA’s coaching staff as director of leadership.

The school said in an announcement that Niumatalolo will serve as an adviser to the Bruins’ football staff and players.

Niumatalolo led Navy for 15 years and was the winningest coach in school history at 109-83. The Midshipmen, however, finished with losing records the past three seasons, including 4-8 the past two.

Navy played in 10 bowl games under Niumatalolo. He also was the only coach to win his first eight games in the storied Army-Navy rivalry.

Navy promotes defensive coordinator Newberry to head coach

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Navy promoted defensive coordinator Brian Newberry to head coach on Monday, replacing Ken Niumatalolo, the winningest coach in school history who was fired a week ago.

Newberry, 51, has been leading the Midshipmen defense since 2019. His college coaching career dates back 2000, but this will be his first head coaching job.

“It is a great honor and privilege to lead this program,” Newberry said in a statement. “It is a great responsibility that I fully accept and embrace. I could not be more excited and optimistic about the future of Navy football. The Naval Academy is a special place and we have great young men in our program.”

Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said in a statement that Newberry is “respected and was highly endorsed by many.”

“Often there comes a time in the careers of highly accomplished coaches in our profession when documented credibility aligns with logical leadership opportunity and Coach Newberry’s time is now,” Gladchuk said.

Navy moved on from Niumatalolo after going 11-23 over the past three seasons, but the defense didn’t draw much of the blame for that. Gladchuk has received some criticism for firing Niumatalolo after 16 seasons with the school and 109 victories, but Gladcuk also places a premium on beating fellow military academies Air Force and Army – which Navy has done only four times in the past 14 matchups.

Navy lost to Army in overtime on Dec. 10 to finish its season with a 4-8 record.

Newberry, who played for Baylor, led a defense that finished sixth in the nation in run defense this season. He previously was defensive coordinator at Kennesaw State, Northern Michigan, the University of the South and Washington & Lee.

Navy AD blunt about expectations for program, next coach

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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.”