Longtime Navy HC Responds To Being Fired Before The Flight Home After A Loss To Army

The Navy football team comes out of the tunnel.

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Navy made a surprising decision to get rid of longtime head coach Ken Niumatalolo following a season-ending loss to rival Army. New reports show just how quickly that decision was made.

After suffering a crushing defeat at the hands of the Black Knights, athletic director Chet Gladchuk made the call to move on after seeing Niumatalolo lead the program for 15 years.

News of the firing broke on Sunday, but it appears that Gladchuk wasted no time in letting the head coach know he wouldn’t be back. According to a story from ESPN, Niumatalolo was informed of the firing in the locker room in Philadelphia.

Ken Niumatalolo responded to the shockingly quick canning on Monday.

“First of all, we just got kicked in the gut. I was a little bit numb prior to him saying that, so most of it I couldn’t comprehend. I’m just like, ‘Chet, why don’t you take some time to relax.’ He said, ‘Well, it’s been building up.'”

Navy has struggled over the last few seasons, posting losing records in four of the last five campaigns. The loss to Army was also the program’s fifth in seven games after the Midshipmen owned the series in the beginning of Niumatalolo’s tenure.

Niumatalolo apparently felt the heat a bit, but with one year remaining on his contract, he didn’t expect the firing to come in 2022. He even pled his case to the athletic director about staying on for that final year.

“If we lose next year, don’t worry about firing me. I’ll resign. You don’t have to pay me a cent. I’m not looking for a raise, I’m not looking for anything. I just want to finish my contract. We’re finally coming out of the pandemic. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. I thought we stood for something different.”

And while the ultimate decision didn’t come down to that final game, the loss to Army was the last straw. Many believed that Niumatalolo’s future hinged on the season finale, and in a game that the Midshipmen had every opportunity to win, the double overtime defeat sealed the deal.

That game saw his team lose despite not giving up an offensive touchdown in regulation. Navy also had a chance to score a touchdown in the second OT session but fumbled near the goal line. Niumatalolo thinks that if things had gone differently, he’d still be in Annapolis.

“It’s hard for me to think that we got the ball on the 6-inch line, and that’s my last game. That’s hard to fathom. If we win, he’s not firing me. How do you fire a guy after you win the Army-Navy game? That’s not going to happen.”

Ken Niumatalolo has been a staple on the sidelines at Navy. Hopefully, he lands on his feet somewhere else in the college football world.