Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo blames Pentagon for trophy games, apologizes

Navy football coach Ken Niumatalolo apologized for blaming the Pentagon for allowing Air Force to play for the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy this fall. 

Niumatalolo had argued that Navy (11 games) and Army (12 games) are playing full schedules, while Air Force is only playing two games because the Mountain West Conference suspended play until the spring due to coronavirus concerns. 

Niumatalolo had called the decision a "military deal." 

"Where else in the country would you play for something of value and everybody's schedules are not the same?" Niumatalolo told reporters 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."

Niumatalolo backpedaled and apologized later Monday evening. He told The Capital Gazette: "I should not have said some of the stuff I said and I'm sorry I did. 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."

Navy won the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy in 2019, ending a 21-year drought. Air Force won the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy in 2016.

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