In his nine seasons at the helm of the Navy football program, and in his 19 years overall at the Naval Academy, head coach Ken Niumatalolo has engineered a program that has hit on all cylinders since he took over the reigns at the end of the 2007 campaign.
Niumatalolo 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 133-year history.
Niumatalolo (77-42, .647) is the all-time winningest coach in school history and is the only coach in the history of the Army-Navy game to start his coaching career 8-0 against the other Academy.
He led Navy to a school-record 11 wins in 2015, which included sharing the West Division title with Houston in Navy’s first year in the American Athletic Conference, as well as winning the Lambert Trophy, awarded to the best team in the East, for the first time since 1963.
He led Navy to its first outright division title last fall as the Mids went 7-1 in the AAC and won the West division.
He is the first coach in school history to win three consecutive bowl games and his four overall bowl wins are the most in school history.
He has led Navy to five Commander-In-Chief’s Trophies, which is tied with George Welsh and Paul Johnson for the most in school history.
He was one of just four coaches to be named a finalist for the Dodd Trophy and the Paul “Bear” Bryant National Coach Of The Year Award in 2015. He was a Dodd Trophy finalist again in 2016 and was also the AFCA Region 1 Coach of the Year. He has been named the AAC Coach of the Year in each of his first two seasons.
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. He beat Notre Dame for a third time in 2016 to tie Hardin as the only Navy coaches to beat Notre Dame three times.
Niumatalolo is the dean of American Athletic Conference coaches. His nine years at Navy are more than the rest of the league’s coaches (11 coaches total) have been at their current schools combined.
Navy finished the 2016 campaign with a 9-5 mark and a 7-1 record in the American Athletic Conference despite a season that saw the Mids have 102 missed games by starters or key contributors. The Mids played Temple in the AAC Championship Game and played in a bowl game (Armed Forces) for the 13th time in the last 14 years. The nine wins tied for the fifth most in school history and the team set school records for points (531), touchdowns (73), touchdowns per game (5.2), rushing touchdowns (61), total offense (6,136 yards) and yards per play (6.8) despite playing four different quarterbacks.
In 2015, Navy won a school-record 11 wins against just two losses, qualified for a bowl game for the 12th time in the last 13 years, won a bowl game for the 10th time in school history (beat Pittsburgh, 44-28, in the Military Bowl), won a bowl game for a third straight year for the first time in school history, defeated Army for a series-record 14th consecutive year, won the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy for the third time in the last four years, won the Lambert Trophy as the best team in the East for the first time since 1963, finished 18th in the country in both the Associated Press and Coaches polls and shared the West Division title of the American Athletic Conference with Houston in Navy’s first year of being in a conference after being an Independent for 134 years.
In 2014, Navy finished 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.
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 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 La’ie, Hawai’i, Niumatalolo and his wife, Barbara, have three children, Alexcia, Va’a and Ali’i.