Ken Niumatalolo: Coaches should know people can handle the truth

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Wednesday August 03, 2016

Photo credit: USA Today Sports Images

When Ken Niumatalolo was in the mix for the BYU head coaching job last fall, he let his team know and even commented on it to media.

He has one son playing college football and another who soon will, and he hopes their coaches will be equally upfront when it comes to jobs or any other topics. At a time of year when coaches often try to say as little as possible, Niumatalo was open and honest. Now, he's entering his 15th straight fall camp at Navy, including his 10th as head coach.

You’ve seen so many times where a guy says, ‘I’m not going anywhere, I’m going to be here for life,’ and you see him on a jet and he’s at a press conference at the new school. I couldn’t do that to my players,” Niumatalolo said this week on SiriusXM College Sports Nation. “I knew I was going, and I knew I wanted to take a look, because I’m LDS and my son plays at the school. Those are the two driving factors.

“I knew I was going to see what they had to offer. I wanted to be upfront with my team. I don’t know if the timing was right, but I’m grateful I did tell them, because I had no idea that the media would be there. If that would have been the first thing players saw, the media, I would have lost total trust with them. I don’t know if it’s right or wrong. It’s just the way I wanted to handle it.”

The BYU job opened when Bronco Mendenhall surprisingly left for Virginia. It was a move that didn’t have any publicity until it happened.

Niumatalolo doesn’t want to tell another coach how to handle his business, but he hopes his sons’ coaches are transparent about everything. He deals with a different kind of player at Navy, but players prefer their coach to be open, on any issue.

“My son plays at BYU, I’ve got another son that will go to Boise State in a couple years after his mission. I just hope the coaches are honest with them,” he said. “I always tell my son people can handle the truth. Maybe not at the start or whatever, but I hope people have open and upfront discussions with you. That’s always been my philosophy. People can handle the truth.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to