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Search continues: Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo withdraws name from Arizona Wildcats job

Search continues: Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo withdraws name from Arizona Wildcats job
Posted at 9:39 AM, Jan 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-14 11:54:58-05

Longtime Navy head football coach Ken Niumatalolo is staying put, despite a reported offer to become the Arizona Wildcats' next head coach.

Multiple media outlets reported Friday that Niumatalolo had been offered the position that was left vacant after Arizona fired six-year head coach Rich Rodriguez. But on Sunday, Niumatalolo said he made his mind up to remain at Navy, where he was coached since 1995.

"After much prayer and pondering it has become crystal clear that USNA is a special place with special people and I love it here. Plus, I have unfinished business!" Niumatalolo said in a statement, according to Bill Wagner of the Capital Gazette.

Niumatalolo was a quarterback at the University of Hawaii, where he briefly played under eventual UA head coach Dick Tomey. Niumatalolo wrote the foreword for Tomey’s book, “Rise of the Rainbow Warriors," and Tomey reportedly suggested to UA's coach searching firm that Niumatalolo be considered for the job.

On Friday, ESPN's Adam Rittenberg reported Niumatalolo was one of four candidates "in the mix" for the UA head coaching job. The others: former Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, Cal offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin and current Arizona defensive coordinator Marcel Yates.

he 53-year-old Sumlin has experienced success at both of his head coaching stops -- at Houston, where he led the Cougars to a 12-1 record in his final season, and at Texas A&M, where he went 51-26 over six seasons. Sumlin was fired by the Aggies in November following a 7-5 season.

Baldwin is a 45-year-old former quarterback who had a great deal of success as the head coach of FCS school Eastern Washington, which plays in the Big Sky Conference alongside Northern Arizona. Baldwin, who led the Eagles to the 2010 FCS championship, joined Cal's staff last season.

Yates is Arizona's interim head coach. He was named the Wildcats' defensive coordinator before the 2016 season. He previously served the same role at Boise State, as well as Texas A&M, where he coached under Sumlin.

Other candidates Arizona reportedly interviewed or considered for the job included Troy head coach Neal Brown, Toledo head coach Jason Candle and Western Kentucky head coach Mike Sanford.