Navy's Niumatalolo chides Pentagon over schedule, then apologizes originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Despite cancellations across the college football landscape, the annual Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy series is still scheduled to go on as planned. But while Navy and Army will play full schedules this season, Air Force is only scheduled to play twice in 2020, a fact that didn’t sit well with Navy head football coach Ken Niumatalolo.
“Where else in the country would you play for something of value and everybody's schedules are not the same?" Niumatalolo said on Monday. "This is the No. 1 thing we fight for every year, the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. We're playing a full schedule. You got Air Force playing just two games? I don't think those people care.
"This is above us. This is guys at the Pentagon making decisions. I have no idea where they're getting their data from. They didn't get it from me, so they're not getting any football data. Like I said, nobody asked me."
The Air Force Academy plays in the Mountain West Conference, which decided to postpone its entire football schedule until the spring. Niumatalolo later apologized for his remarks, contacting the Capital Gazette unsolicited to express regret for what he had said.
“I should not have said some of the stuff I said and I'm sorry I did,” Niumatalolo told the Gazette. “The Pentagon has nothing to do with this and it was wrong of me to suggest that was the case. I sometimes get myself in trouble by speaking my mind. This was an instance when I should have kept my thoughts to myself.”
Air Force will play Navy on Oct. 3 and Army on Nov. 7 in pursuit of the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, which is awarded to the winner of the annual football series. Navy is the current holder of the trophy, while Air Force leads the all-time series with 20 victories. Leadership from all three academies agreed to this plan, but that still didn’t make Niumatalolo feel any better about things moving forward.
“We're not playing croquet or anything. Football is a tough, physical game,” Niumatalolo said before issuing his apology.” “People made decisions on this that have no clue what they're doing or talking about with sports. They made this a military deal. It's not a military deal.
“I'm done speaking my mind. I'm sure I'll get reprimanded. I'm just the head football coach, but that's how I honestly feel. It's not right.”