In an interview this week with The Sporting News, Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk talked about the challenges of being an independent football program. His remarks echoed a lot of the same sentiments he told me last year when I asked him about the same topic. In that interview, Gladchuk talked about "a seam for Navy" that he helped create over a span of seven or eight years which has allowed the team to be successful as an independent.
There is no doubt that if BYU becomes an independent – which is still not a done deal – it would definitely have an effect on this seam according to Niumatalolo
"It makes it tougher for us if they become an independent," said Niumatalolo. "We're fighting to get games and Chet (Gladchuck) does a great job trying to get us bowl spots, but if you have another independent trying to throw their hat in the ring, it makes it tough for us."
"I had the same question asked to me about my alma mater, Hawaii, and I thought it would be tough for them – just where they are located. (But) I think BYU has a legitimate shot to do that because a national following. Wherever they go, they will have fans. Financially I think they can pull it off. Now they are not Notre Dame from a national recognition standpoint but they have a heck of a program. I think their national fan base and their TV studio facilities that they have will help them," said Niumatalolo.
As for the possibility of Navy playing a BYU team that may all of a sudden be looking to fill a few open weeks in its schedule, Niumatalolo wasn't thrilled with the idea of a match-up against such a formidable opponent as the Cougars.
"Bronco (Mendenhall) actually called me during the offseason and I wasn't too fired up about (the prospects) of playing them."
MARYLAND HAS NIUMATALOLO "PARANOID" ABOUT OPEN SCRIMMAGES
For the first time in recent memory (Towson was the last time), the Navy football team will scrimmage behind closed doors on Saturday. If you were wondering why he decided to do this, blame the proximity of the Mids' first opponent.
"(The distance), that's the biggest reason. Once we get done (with the Maryland game) we will be like we normally have been (in regards to scrimmages). We're just paranoid being in the same state as Maryland – being 30 or 40 minutes from their campus. My eyes are going to be looking all around in the stadium," said Niumatalolo.
"As you guys know, we coaches are very paranoid."