Update: Just like that, Arizona is again searching for a leading candidate to take over its football team -- or the Wildcats are actually on the verge of hiring someone else. Navy announced on Sunday that coach Ken Niumatalolo is returning for his 11th full season.
Sports Illustrated's Bruce Feldman first reported that Niumatalolo was no longer considering the vacant Arizona job. Keep in mind, too, that Niumatalolo was a serious candidate for the BYU job in December of 2015 but eventually turned it down to stay at Navy.
A coach that's still on the market is Kevin Sumlin, who was recently fired by Texas A&M. Sumlin's name was floated with the Arizona State job before the Sun Devils eventually hired former NFL coach and ESPN commentator Herm Edwards.
Following the dismissal of Rich Rodriguez, Arizona is exploring its coaching options, and they reportedly include the option (offense) itself.
Ken Niumatalolo was unexpectedly absent from the Navy football offices [Friday], fueling strong speculation that he will be the next coach of the Arizona Wildcats.
Niumatalolo, a disciple of former UA coach Dick Tomey, is believed to be interviewing and is considered one of the finalists.
Now, if this all comes to fruition and Niumatalolo is brought on, it would certainly be an interesting hire. I've long been a proponent of programs in Power Five conferences that fall outside the top tier going to an option offense, writing earlier this season thatof a program that should consider it. So, it's interesting that Arizona could be going this route with the new hire.
Of course, what's not clear is whether or not Niumatalolo would bring the same offense he currently runs at Navy to Arizona, or if he would customize it to fit the roster and talent in place. With Khalil Tate, the Wildcats have one of the most exciting quarterbacks in the country at their disposal already, but I don't know if he could withstand the pounding that an option QB takes compared to one in a typical spread offense.
It should be pointed out that this is not the first time Niumatalolo's name has come up for jobs elsewhere, as he interviewed for the BYU gig a few years ago before deciding to remain at Navy. The Daily Star also reports that former UCLA offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch has made "a strong impression" in the offices of the Arizona athletic department as well.