In his seven seasons at the helm of the Navy football program, and in his 17 years overall at the Naval Academy, head coach Ken Niumatalolo continues to engineer a program that has hit on all cylinders since he took over the reigns at the end of the 2007 campaign. He has repeatedly guided the Midshipmen to success both on and off the gridiron. Included in his accomplishments are a number of milestones never before achieved by a coach or team in the program’s 132-year history.
Niumatalolo (57-35, .620) is the all-time winningest coach in school history, passing George Welsh when Navy defeated Army for a record 13th-consecutive time. The victory over Army also made Niumatalolo the first coach in the history of the Army-Navy game to start his coaching career 7-0 against the other Academy.
Those two achievements go at the top of a long list of achievements by Niumatalolo.He led Navy to a 10-win season in 2009, which tied for the most wins in school history, he is the first coach in program history to lead Navy to a bowl game in each of his first three seasons and he is also the first Service Academy coach to win the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy in his first two years as a head coach.In 2013, Niumatalolo was selected to the inaugural class of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame and was inducted on January 23 in Honolulu.
He is just the second coach since World War II to lead Navy to a winning record in each of his first three seasons at the helm and joins Eddie Erdelatz and Wayne Hardin as the only Navy coaches to beat Notre Dame in consecutive seasons.
Navy has won at least nine games five times in the last 11 years. Before the current streak, Navy had won nine or more games just five times in the previous 77 seasons.
Navy finished the 2014 campaign with an 8-5 record, qualified for a bowl game for the 11th time in the last 12 years, won a bowl game for just the ninth time in school history (beat San Diego State, 17-16, in the Poinsettia Bowl), won a bowl game in back-to-back years for the second time in school history and defeated Army for a series-record 13th consecutive year.
Navy finished the 2013 season with a 9-4 record, won the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy for the ninth time in the last 11 years, qualified for a bowl game for the 10th time in the last 11 years, won a bowl game for just the eighth time in school history (beat Middle Tennessee, 24-6, in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl) and defeated Army for a series-record 12th consecutive year. The 2013 squad is just the fifth in Navy history to win at least nine games in a season, beat Army and win a bowl game. The 1957, 1978, 2004 and 2009 teams are the only other teams to have achieved that feat.
Niumatalolo led Navy to an 8-5 record in 2012 and a berth in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, which was Navy’s ninth bowl game in the last 10 years. Navy defeated Air Force, 28-21, in overtime and Army, 17-13, to give the Mids the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy.
Navy was 5-7 in 2011 that included a series record 10th-straight victory over Army. The Mids played seven teams that finished with a winning record and six that went to bowl games.
The Mids posted an impressive 9-4 record in 2010, defeated Army for a series record ninth-consecutive time, defeated Notre Dame in consecutive seasons for only the third time in school history and appeared in a school-record eighth consecutive bowl game
The 2009 season was one to remember for the Midshipmen, as Navy tied a school record for wins with 10, won a school-record seventh consecutive Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy, appeared in a seventh consecutive bowl game, beat Notre Dame in South Bend for the second straight time and ran their winning streak against the other two Service Academies to an amazing 15 straight games. The Mids capped the season off with a 35-13 rout of Missouri in the Texas Bowl.
In 2008, Niumatalolo became the first coach to lead Navy to a bowl game in his inaugural season and, thanks to a 33-27 victory over Air Force and a 34-0 win over Army, he became just the second Service Academy coach to win the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy in his first year. Niumatalolo led the Midshipmen to an 8-5 record, the most wins for a first-year coach at Navy since 1934.Included in those eight wins was a 24-17 victory over 16th-ranked Wake Forest, which was Navy’s first win over a team ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 since 1985.Navy also beat teams currently in the BCS in back-to-back weeks (Rutgers and Wake Forest) for the first time since 1981 and defeated a program-record four bowl teams.
Niumatalolo, 49, was promoted to head football coach at the Naval Academy on Dec. 8, 2007, by Naval Academy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk.
He is the second Polynesian head coach in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) history and the first Samoan collegiate head coach on any level.
Prior to being named head coach, Niumatalolo had two coaching stints at the Naval Academy for a combined 10 seasons, including the last six where he served as assistant head coach and offensive line coach.
Niumatalolo and the majority of his coaching staff have been part of a staff that has brought the Midshipmen back into the national spotlight over the last 12 seasons, compiling an 100-54 record (.649).
During that time, Navy made a school-record eight-consecutive bowl game appearances, won seven-consecutive Commander-In-Chief’s Trophies, earned 15-consecutive wins over the other two Service Academies and claimed an NCAA-record four-consecutive NCAA rushing titles.
In 2007, with Niumatalolo as the Assistant Head Coach, he saw the Mids post an 8-5 record, win the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy, appear in a fifth-straight bowl game (Poinsettia Bowl, which was Niumatalolo’s first game as a head coach), set a school record for rushing (348.8 yards per contest) and defeat Notre Dame for the first time since 1963.
In 2006, Navy averaged a then school-record 327.0 yards per contest, won the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy and participated in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
In 2005, Niumatalolo helped develop an offensive line that, despite having just one returning starter, paved the way for the nation’s best rushing offense (318.7 yards per contest), went to a bowl game for a third-straight year, won a second-straight bowl game and won the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy.
In 2004, Niumatalolo’s efforts helped an offensive line that was hampered by injuries all year to perform well enough for the Midshipmen to finish third in the country in rushing (289.5), win a school-record tying 10 games (the most wins since 1905), go to back-to-back bowl games for the second time in school history, win the Emerald Bowl and win the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy.
Despite a lack of experience up front, the Mids led the nation in rushing (323.2 yards per contest) in 2003 and set seven school records as Navy went 8-5, won the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy and earned a berth in the Houston Bowl.
In 2002, the Navy offensive line helped the Mids to the third-best rushing average in the country (270.75).
Niumatalolo was also an assistant at Navy from 1995-98, serving as the offensive coordinator in 1997 and 1998.As the offensive coordinator, Niumatalolo tutored Chris McCoy, who set the then-NCAA record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a season with 20 in 1997 and became just the 10th player in NCAA history to rush for more than 1,000 yards and pass for more than 1,000 yards in the same season. In addition, Navy finished among the nation’s top five in rushing his last-two years and broke 38 school offensive records during his tenure.
Niumatalolo coached at UNLV for three seasons (1999-01) and called the plays his final year (2001) in Vegas. He also worked with the kickoff return unit and, under his guidance, UNLV ranked sixth in the nation in kickoff returns in 2001 and finished second in 1999.
A 1989 graduate of Hawai’i, Niumatalolo lettered three years as a quarterback and was a part of Hawaii’s first bowl team in 1989. He was hired as a fulltime assistant by his alma mater in 1992 and spent three seasons coaching on the offensive side of the ball.
A native of Laie’, Hawai’i, Niumatalolo and his wife, Barbara, have three children, Alexcia, Va’a and Ali’i.