Ken Niumatalolo won’t be Navy’s head coach in 2023, it was announced Sunday. The longtime head coach found tremendous success leading the Midshipmen for 15 seasons, but the program has struggled in recent years.
Niumatalolo went 109-83 during his tenure, but the program hasn’t posted a winning season since an impressive 11-2 campaign in 2019. Navy is 4-10 against Army and Air Force over the last seven seasons, something mentioned specifically in the press release announcing the move away from Niumatalolo.
Clearly, Navy Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk wants more from the program. With Niumatalolo gone, Navy seeks a new head coach.
“The Naval Academy will now move forward with continued high ambitions and embrace a new era of reaffirmed expectations for Navy football and our midshipmen,” Gladchuk said in the press release.
Here are three possibilities for the new head coach.
Brian Bohannon, Kennesaw State head coach
Bohannon coached at Navy from 2002-07, working with the wide receivers, and he runs the triple option at Kennesaw State. With a 68-24 record at Kennesaw State, there’s reason to believe Bohannon could win consistently at Navy. He even took the program to the FCS quarterfinals twice, making the Owls a regular in the FCS playoffs before they begin a transition to the FBS next season.
He’s extremely familiar with Navy’s unique offensive philosophies, which is a bonus. Bohannon should at the very least earn an interview for the head coaching gig, and he’d be a quality hire for the program.
Brian Newberry, interim head coach
If Navy opts to stay inside the program, which is a possibility, Newberry is arguably the strongest candidate. The team’s defensive coordinator this season, Newberry is currently serving as the interim head coach.
Navy’s defense has performed well in recent years, with the offense often struggling and putting the Midshipmen in tough spots. Newberry’s unit held its own in multiple games this season, including a 23-20 upset over East Carolina, a 13-10 loss to Air Force, and a 20-17 double overtime defeat to Army.
Newberry knows the current players and fellow coaches, and he could make a few tweaks to the program rather than attempting to implement a major overhaul.
Bronco Mendenhall, former Virginia head coach
I love this hypothetical fit.
Mendenhall is 135-81 as a college head coach, doing well at both BYU and Virginia. Mendenhall took the 2022 season away from coaching to reset, but he’s interested in returning to coaching, and he values leadership and mentorship. What better college football program to lead and mentor young men than Navy?
The school won’t get caught up in NIL recruiting battles any time soon, and the program doesn’t have massive expectations. Navy wants to win games, but making bowl games and beating Army is a fine standard most seasons. That seems like it would be welcomed by Mendenhall, who won at Virginia despite low expectations and relished the chance to develop players over 3-5 years with the program.
Mendenhall is a unique character who breaks the mold of a traditional college football coach in 2022. Navy is a unique program that fits Mendenhall’s character.