When I first found out that Bronco Mendenhall was leaving BYU, the first name that entered into my head was actually Ken Niumatalolo. After all, there are very few people who actually fit into the requirements to be BYU's head football coach. My next thought was, "That could work, except..." and there were actually two big exceptions that I'm going to focus on here.
First is the next statement I've heard from every BYU fan I've talked to when Niumatalolo is mentioned. Every single fan has said "He would be great, but he runs the option." This has lead me to believe, that like myself, most BYU fans have very little interest in seeing BYU run the option. Now, if you've seen Navy run the option, you know it is actually much more fun to watch than Air Force or Army, and even much more exciting than Georgia Tech even though they don't throw as much.
Another huge negative for the option right now is Tanner Mangum, let alone every other quarterback that is currently on BYU's roster or set to come onto the team. That being said, how long would it take Coach Ken to find a quarterback and get him ready to play against the teams that BYU is set to face in the future? Right now, BYU has a quarterback who is ready to play in a system that suits him and it would be a shame to see him leave because he doesn't feel that he is being used correctly or feels that his professional ambitions are being wasted in a system that does not fit his skill set.
One thing everyone I've talked to also says is that they don't think he would run it at BYU. But after coaching at Navy since 1995, starting as a running backs coach, that is all he's known. Coaches don't change their systems after 20 years of doing the same thing. You are so consumed by making sure you know your system inside and out and you are not going to just change what has made you successful because you are now at a different school and their fans think you should do something different.
Second is I do not know if he is a capable recruiter. Even though Navy has much stricter recruiting standards than BYU there is a huge difference. The kids that want to play at Navy are not going to Navy to play football. They are going to become military officers that are going to spend at least 5 years in active service of the Navy, and many will serve much more than that. These young men are going to Navy to become leaders of men, not football players. Playing Division 1 football is just a huge benefit to go along with all the real reasons they are going to Navy.
Convincing good athletes to come to BYU is a problem in the first place and trusting the life-blood of the program, recruiting, to someone who has not shown that he is consistently able to recruit a high level athlete. Now, maybe that experience of recruiting a limited interest athlete could come in handy at BYU and help keep the higher level LDS athletes at BYU. BYU has lost out on some high level LDS athletes lately and that experience of recruiting at Navy could actually help him. But ultimately, we don't know if that is true.
That being said, I would not be super disappointed if Coach Ken is actually the next Cougar coach. I could get used to seeing more option style attacks, which we've seen with Taysom Hill in the last few seasons. Who knows, maybe he could even become like LaVell and hire good coordinators and stay out of their way. This is an important hire that could spring the program or hamper it for years to come, good thing BYU has such a great athletic director in Tom Holmoe to lead the program in the right direction.