BREAKING: San Jose State to hire Ken Niumatalolo as next head coach

Ken Niumatalolo, the most successful head coach in Navy history, should be taking over San Jose State “within the next 48 hours” according to ESPN’s Pete Thamel.

Niumatalolo’s hiring comes nearly a week after former SJSU head coach Brent Brennan left to become Arizona’s head coach to replace Jedd Fisch who departed to Washington.

Niumatalolo went to 10 bowl games in his first 12 seasons, and from 2015-19, he was selected as the American Athletic Conference coach of the year three times and led the Midshipmen to four AP-Top 25 poll finishes. But after going 11-23 in the three seasons that followed, Niumatalolo was let go after losing to rival Army on Dec. 10, 2022.

Niumatalolo, who finished 109-83 in those15 full seasons at Navy, then traveled westward and took up up a leadership role on Chip Kelly’s staff at UCLA in 2023 and was set to be the tight ends coach in 2024.

“He’s a voice for all of us,” Kelly told The Washington Post prior to the 2023 season. “He also meets with our coaching staff, and just talking about leadership, not talking about scheme, not talking about X’s and O’s, but has brought a lot of different stuff to our staff from that standpoint and has really made an impact.”

With Thamel also reporting that “Niumatalolo will not be running the triple option” at SJSU, there will be several conversations centered around the “X’s and O’s.”After all, Niumatalolo only ran the triple-option at Navy as a head coach and member of the offensive staff from 2002-07.

So if Niumatalolo won’t be running his coveted attack, what will he run? Furthermore, what will his staff look like? It hasn’t been determined which SJSU coaches will follow Brennan to Arizona.

But that shouldn’t distract how good of a hire— on paper— this is for SJSU.

Jeff Konya, SJSU’s Director of Athletics, found a proven winner that could convince fans and the donor base that the program won’t plunge back to irrelevance. Plus, Niumatalolo also understands the struggles SJSU is facing in the NIL space.

Because Navy players are considered federal employees, they aren’t able to rake in NIL deals, which put the program at a disadvantage behind other teams in the AAC.

“But even some of the lower-tier guys for us, we can’t compete with that,” Niumatalolo told ESPN back in 2022.

The hiring also illustrates how far SJSU has come pre and post Brennan era.

Brennan’s hiring in 2017 was a byproduct of potential candidates turning the job down out of the fear the tenure could be disastrous to the point where they’d never get another head coaching opportunity again.

So Brennan, then an outside wide receivers coach at Oregon State, got the gig and produced just three wins in his first two seasons. Then came an encouraging 5-7 season in 2019 followed by the prized 2020 Mountain West Championship.

From 2020-23, Brennan became the first SJSU head coach to make three bowl games and those three bowl appearances marked SJSU’s first time making three bowl games in the span of four years.

“I don’t know how long this will go,” Niumatalolo said in the above mentioned Washington Post article. “Chip and I have talked. I want to make one more run at it, and I feel like coming here has helped me from that perspective.”

And now Spartan Nation hopes Niumatalolo gained the “perspective” necessary to continue the program’s golden era.

Story originally appeared on Mountain West Wire