Thursday, August 26, 1999
happy to be
closer to home
The former Rainbow playerBy Dave Reardon
and coach is enjoying his coaching
move from Navy to Nevada-Las Vegas
Special to the Star-Bulletin
Ken Niumatalolo left the offensive coordinator's job at Navy partly because of the use of a tight end.
Now, he coaches that position at Nevada-Las Vegas. Niumatalolo joined the Rebels staff July 27.
"Coach (Charlie Weatherbie) is a good man. But he and I had some differences," the former Hawaii quarterback and assistant said.
"His offense was geared more toward Air Force, and he wanted to incorporate the tight end more. With me learning from Coach (Paul) Johnson, and being around the spread, we don't use one. It's about whether you want to bunch people up or spread them out."
This was at the end of last season, and Niumatalolo decided it was time to move on. He resigned from Navy, without another job in mind.
Niumatalolo had interviewed for the Hawaii head coaching job, but June Jones got it.
"I basically spent seven months hanging out with my kids," Niumatalolo said. "I had put some money away. I got some offers, but I wasn't going to go to North Dakota just to coach football."
His patience paid off. When the UNLV opening came up, Dick Tomey, Bob Wagner and LaVell Edwards all called Rebels coach John Robinson to say good things about Niumatalolo.
Now he's working for a legend, and in a place closer to Hawaii -- geographically and culturally.
"From the standpoint of work, my role on the staff changed," Niumatalolo said.
"But the opportunity to work with coach Robinson is a great learning experience," Niumatalolo added. "There are a lot of plusses. My sister is here, there's a strong Mormon population. It really felt good to come to a place with a lot of local people."
He feels even better with four arrivals today. His wife, Barbara, and children Alexcia, Va'a, and Ali'i came in from the East Coast. Also, there are several former Hawaii high school players on the UNLV roster.
Niumatalolo said he had some great experiences at Navy. Some of the highlights included the 1996 Aloha Bowl, training for a day with Navy SEALs, and coaching with Brian Norwood, his Radford High and UH teammate.
"I don't leave with regrets," Niumatalolo said. "We broke 34 school records."
But he won't be looking to break the bank at the California Hotel after leaving the disciplined air of the academy for Sin City.
"No, no casinos. I'm too nervous to go in there," Niumatalolo said. "I do go to the big buffets, though. And I've already found the local food place."
And he has no problem with coaching tight ends.
The Niumatalolo File
1983: Niumatalolo graduates from Radford High, where he starred in football and basketball.
1983-89: UH playing career, with a two-year religious mission.
1990: Graduate assistant at UH
1992: Full-time assistant coach at UH
1995: Went to Navy with Paul Johnson as running backs coach.
1996: Johnson leaves after season to coach at Georgia Southern. Niumatalolo becomes Navy offensive coordinator.
1999: Leaves Navy. Is hired to coach tight ends at Nevada-Las Vegas.