Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo didn’t hold back his criticisms following news on Monday that the heavily anticipated Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy series would continue this year despite the pandemic-altered football schedules of the three service academy schools.
A fired-up Niumatalolo slammed the Pentagon during a video conference call Monday, saying the decision was made without his input and by people who “have never played football in their life.”
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“I have no idea who made those decisions. Probably guys who should be making decisions on more important matters than football,” Niumatalolo said, according to the Capital Gazette. “I wish they would worry about stuff other than football and let us make football decisions. To me, that should have been among the [athletic directors] and head coaches.”
He continued: “Those guys making decisions have never played football in their life. They don’t know how physical football is. We’re not playing croquet or anything. Football is a tough, physical game.”
Niumatalolo’s biggest issue is the unfair schedule.
Air Force, a member of the Mountain West Conference, is playing its football season in the spring while Navy and Army are playing on an 11- and 12-game schedule, respectively.
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“Where else in the country would you play for something of value and everybody’s schedules are not the same?” Niumatalolo said Monday. “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.”
Naval Academy athletic director Chet Gladchuk told the Gazette on Tuesday that the decision came after the superintendents of all three academies agreed to play.
“The question mark has always been Air Force and whether or not they would field a team,” he told the website. “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.”
Whether Niumatalolo is in support of it or not, Navy will attempt to defend their title when they take on the Air Force on Oct. 3 at 6 p.m.
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Aware of his outspokenness, Niumatalolo joked that he expects to hear from higher- ups about his public criticisms.
“I’m done speaking my mind. I’m sure I’ll get reprimanded,” he said. “I’m just the head football coach, but that’s how I honestly feel. It’s not right.”