Navy football coach Ken Niumatalolo concerned about fairness of Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy series

Ken Niumatalolo, left, show greeting Jeff Monken following the 2018 Army-Navy game, is concerned about the competitive fairness of the 2020 Commander-in-Chief's Trophy series.
Ken Niumatalolo, left, show greeting Jeff Monken following the 2018 Army-Navy game, is concerned about the competitive fairness of the 2020 Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy series. (Matt Slocum/AP)

No one knows how the college football season will unfold.

It’s anyone’s guess at this point how it will all shake out.

In the age of coronavirus, there only seems to be one certainty about the 2020 college football season: Air Force, Army and Navy have pledged to conduct the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy series no matter what.

Air Force is a member of the Mountain West, one of four FBS conferences that have canceled all fall sports. At present, the Air Force 2020 schedule consists of two games — at home against Navy on Oct. 3 and at Army West Point on Nov. 7.

Army’s official schedule currently includes two other contests — at Rice on Sept. 12 and at Tulane on Nov. 14. On Monday, The Deseret News reported that Army and Brigham Young University agreed to a game to be held Sept. 19 at Michie Stadium in West Point.

Meanwhile, The Middletown Times Herald-Record reported Monday the Black Knights are attempting to piece together a revised schedule that would also include home games against Louisiana-Monroe (Sept. 12) and Football Championship Subdivision schools Abilene Christian (Oct. 3) and Mercer (Oct. 10).

According to the Times Herald-Record, Georgia Southern is another possible opponent for Army, which had a total of eight games wiped off its original 2020 schedule by the various decisions not to play.

It’s a situation that causes concern for Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo, whose program still has an 11-game schedule. The Midshipmen are slated to open the season on Sept. 7 against BYU and also have an eight-game conference slate in addition to the two service academy showdowns.

“Who are Air Force and Army playing?” Niumatalolo asked aloud during a recent virtual news conference. “They practice four months to get ready for us? All the while, we’re getting beat up in other games?”

Navy is due to play three games before traveling to Colorado Springs to face Air Force. The Midshipmen would meet the Falcons one week after hosting Temple.

“I don’t know if it’s in our best interest to play Air Force,” said Niumatalolo, while wondering aloud what the Mountain West Conference thinks about one of its members moving ahead with playing two games during an otherwise canceled campaign.

If Army succeeds in rebuilding its schedule the way published reports indicate, it would still have three weeks off before meeting archrival Navy on Dec. 12 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. That is contingent on the Georgia Southern game being held Nov. 21 as has been rumored.

“When we play for the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, who has the leg up? A team that sits around and waits?” Niumatalolo asked rhetorically. “From a football standpoint, we’ll be playing all these games while those other guys are sitting around all year.”