Ken Niumatalolo and a BYU assistant mentioned as candidates for San Jose State job

UCLA advisor Ken Niumatalolo, right, greets Washington State quarterback Cameron Ward after a game, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in Pasadena, Calif.
UCLA advisor Ken Niumatalolo, right, greets Washington State quarterback Cameron Ward after a game, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in Pasadena, Calif. | Ryan Sun, Associated Press
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Could the surprise retirement of longtime Alabama coach Nick Saban end up in a coach with ties to BYU moving into another head coaching position?

The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman mentioned it as a possibility.

San Jose State is currently looking for a new head football coach, thanks to a trickle-down effect that ties back to Saban.

  • The Crimson Tide replaced Saban with Washington’s Kalen DeBoer.

  • The Huskies replaced DeBoer with Arizona’s Jedd Fisch.

  • The Wildcats replaced Fisch with San Jose State’s Brent Brennan.

On Friday, Feldman released an article breaking down the San Jose State coaching situation, and that includes a list of potential candidates for the Spartans’ vacant position.

Former Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo, who interviewed for the BYU head coaching job in 2015, made that list, as did current Cougars defensive coordinator Jay Hill.

Niumatalolo was fired as Navy’s head coach at the end of the 2022 season after compiling a 109-83 record in 15 seasons as the Midshipmen’s coach.

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He spent the past year as UCLA football’s director of leadership. Earlier this month, the Bruins hired him as the team’s tight ends coach, as the Deseret News previously reported.

UCLA tight ends coach Ken Niumatalolo is by far the biggest name on this list and would be a huge get for the Spartans,” Feldman wrote. “The 58-year-old Hawaiian is the winningest head coach in Navy history with 109 wins. He’s a three-time AAC Coach of the Year.

“He’s also one of the most respected coaches amongst his peers in the football world and has strong ties all over the West. He led the Midshipmen to two top-20 finishes and had nine seasons with at least eight wins in his 15 seasons as their coach. We hear he has emerged as a strong candidate for this job.”

Hill spent his first year as a BYU assistant last year, helping the Cougars transition to the Big 12. Prior to that, the Utah native was the head coach at Weber State for nine seasons, where he went 68-39 and led the Wildcats to the FCS playoffs six times.

BYU defensive coordinator Jay Hill has a lot of head coaching experience, having gone 68-39 at FCS Weber State and winning four Big Sky titles before joining the Cougars last year,” Feldman wrote. “The 48-year-old Utah native could be a name to watch for this vacancy.”

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Both Hill and Niumatalolo are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Feldman’s colleague at The Athletic, Chris Vannini, also mentioned Niumatalolo as a potential candidate for the San Jose State opening.

“UCLA tight ends coach Ken Niumatalolo was in the mix for the San Diego State job and would bring plenty of head coaching experience. He went 109-83 at Navy, with nine seasons of at least eight wins, but his tenure ended after three consecutive losing seasons,” Vannini wrote.

“Niumatalolo has said he can move beyond the triple option if he gets another head coaching job. He joined UCLA as director of leadership last year and was recently promoted to tight ends coach.”

BYU defensive coordinator Jay Hill talks to the media at the end of opening day of BYU spring football camp at the BYU Indoor Practice Facility in Provo, on Monday, March 6, 2023. Hill’s name has surfaced as a possible candidate for the vacant head coaching position at San Jose State. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
BYU defensive coordinator Jay Hill talks to the media at the end of opening day of BYU spring football camp at the BYU Indoor Practice Facility in Provo, on Monday, March 6, 2023. Hill’s name has surfaced as a possible candidate for the vacant head coaching position at San Jose State. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News