In the month or so since Penn State fired Joe Paterno and launched its first search for a head coach since 1965, names ranging from Chris Petersen to Dan Mullen to Al Golden to Greg Schiano have been spit out of the rumor mill as potential replacements.
Apparently, another name has surfaced even as his current school is simultaneously shooting down the speculation.
It was rumored earlier in the week that Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo had been contacted by the Nittany Lions regarding the job. In an email to the Philadelphia Inquirer, a Navy spokesperson denied that either the coach or the academy has been contacted by PSU or its representatives.
“Just talked to coach Niumatalolo and he said it wasn’t true,” athletic director for sports information Scott Strasemeier wrote to the Inquirer in an email. “I also talked to our athletic director, Chet Gladchuk, and he said when we signed coach Niumatalolo to a long-term contract on April 21 that he said he wanted to coach at the Naval Academy for the rest of his life and there is no reason to believe that has changed.
“I can also confirm that Penn State has not contacted Navy.”
The April extension, believed to be at least seven years in length and worth at least $1.5 million annually, prompted Niumatalolo to say that “the Naval Academy has made a big-time commitment to me and I’ve made a big-time commitment to the academy [and] I could definitely see myself coaching here for a long, long time.”
Niumatalolo’s agent, Evan Beard, also shot down the rumors, telling HometownAnnpolis.com in an email, “the report on Penn State’s interest in Kenny is scurrilous. Neither side has had conversations.”
Penn State’s search, which is being handled by a six-member committee headed by athletic director David Joyner, is expected to wind to a conclusion sometime around the first week of the year at the latest. Joyner said last week that the committee is working with a 30-day window to name a coach.
Thus far, the only confirmed interviews for the position have been interim head coach Tom Bradley and quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno, although those were believed to be nothing more than courtesy interviews as neither is viewed as a realistic replacement.