Naval Academy football coach Ken Niumatalolo has apologized for criticizing the Pentagon over issues surrounding the playing of the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy series this season.
“I should not have said some of the stuff I said and I’m sorry I did,” Niumatalolo said in a phone call to the Annapolis (Md.) Capital Gazette, the newspaper reported. The paper said the call was unsolicited.
“The Pentagon has nothing to do with this and it was wrong of me to suggest that was the case. I was just frustrated and let my emotions get the best of me,” Niumatalolo said.
The coach’s comments, which were directed at “guys at the Pentagon,” came in response to a question in Monday’s online media session. Earlier in the day Air Force had announced it would play just two games this season, Oct. 3 against Navy in Colorado Springs, Colo. and Nov. 7 at Army, providing the Falcons with a month to prepare for each opponent.
Since 1972 the trophy has annually gone to the winner of the round-robin football series between the three academies. This year Army is playing a 12-game schedule and Navy 11 games while the Air Force has but two games due to the Mountain West Conference’s Aug. 10 announcement of a decision to postpone its fall sports due to the impact of COVID-19.
“The Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy is our program’s No. 1 goal every year and we put our heart and soul into getting it back last year,” Niumatalolo told the paper.
The Capital Gazette reported Niumatalolo “maintained his stance that moving forward with the round-robin service academy series under the current circumstances makes no sense and sullies the meaning of the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, but admitted his frustrations were misplaced.”
Niumatalolo, a Hawaii native and former University of Hawaii quarterback and assistant coach, told the paper, “I sometimes get myself in trouble by speaking my mind,” Niumatalolo said. “This was an instance when I should have kept my thoughts to myself.”