The Mids head coach led Navy to a 9-4 record this season.
It was announced on Wednesday that Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo has been named as a finalist for the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Trophy. The shortlist of five coaches is named by the Bobby Doos Coach of the Year Foundation and the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl.
The list of coaches announced sees Niumatalolo joining Paul Chryst of Wisconsin, P.J. Fleck of Western Michigan, Mike MacIntyre of Colorado and Chris Peterson of Washington up for the award.
Those coaches represent the runner-up in the Big 10, the winner of the MAC (and Group of Five participant in the New Year’s Six Bowl games), and the winner (Washington) and surprise runner-up (Colorado) in the Pac-12. It is interesting that only one coach of a team that made the College Football Playoff (Peterson of Washington) is up for the award, suggesting that it is no shock that Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State are the other three schools in the field.
The finalists for the award were selected by a panel consisting of all the previous winners, national media reporters, a member of the Dodd family and a College Football Hall of Fame member. Winners of the award from the previous two years are not eligible for the award, eliminating Nik Saban (Alabama) and Kirk Ferentz (Iowa) from contention.
The achievements of the five finalists this year are impressive. They have combined for a 54-10 record in 2016 and combined they have 36 years of head coaching experience and 300 wins between them.
It will be interesting to see if Niumatalolo can become the second Navy head coach to win the award, following in the footsteps of Paul Johnson who was awarded the trophy in 2004. Johnson joined Bob Sutton (Army 1996), Ken Hatfield (Air Force 1983), and Fisher Deberry (Air Force 1985) as military winners of the Coach of the Year trophy.
Niumatalolo would obviously have had a stronger case for the award if the Mids had closed out the season in stronger fashion. The late-year losses to Temple and Army are not comparable to the Mids body of work over the season, but you feel that they could easily cost the Navy head coach his chance to win this prestigious award.