- Pete Thamel ESPN
Navy has promoted Brian Newberry to head coach, elevating the coordinator of the Midshipmen’s defense since 2019.
Newberry has authored consistent top defenses since arriving at Navy four years ago, establishing himself as an elite coordinator and program linchpin.
Newberry replaces Ken Niumatalolo, who finished his tenure as the winningest coach in Navy history at 109-83 in 15 full seasons. Niumatalolo told ESPN earlier this month he was fired immediately after losing to Army and finishing 4-8.
Newberry’s promotion shows that Navy will be sticking to some of the principles of success under Niumatalolo. Athletic director Chet Gladchuk has said publicly that Navy is expected to continue to run the triple option.
“Coach Newberry is respected and was highly endorsed by many within the Navy football family,” Gladchuk said Monday in a statement. “Brian is organized, innovative, intelligent, inspirational and brings an expectation of competitive toughness that has made Navy one of the top defensive units in the nation. The span of his experience at a number of institutions, coupled with four years in Annapolis has allowed him to create a vision for Navy football that is all encompassing and very logical as it pertains to the way ahead. Often there comes a time in the careers of highly-accomplished coaches in our profession when documented credibility aligns with logical leadership opportunity and Coach Newberry’s time is now.”
Since Newberry’s arrival in 2019, Navy’s defenses have been stout. His best season may have come in 2019, as Navy went 11-2 and won the Liberty Bowl and Newberry’s defense finished No. 10 overall against the rush and improved in every major statistical category, leaping to No. 16 nationally from No. 86 in total defense.
Newberry ended up as a semifinalist for the Broyles Award that year for the nation’s top assistant coach. He’s known as a cerebral presence, as he instilled a “Get six” mindset in which the defense attempted in every game to get six of the following: three-and-outs, fourth-down stops, turnovers or defensive touchdowns in a game. In 2019, Navy went 6-0 when it got six of those benchmarks.
Perhaps most importantly, Newberry’s defenses have been stout against Army. During his first three seasons, Navy won twice and yielded an average of just 11.3 points per game. In Navy’s double-overtime loss this year, it didn’t yield a touchdown in regulation, as the game went to overtime tied at 10 in part because Army scored on a blocked punt.
“I want to thank Chet Gladchuk and [academy superintendent] Admiral Sean Buck for this incredible opportunity and for their ongoing support and belief in me,” Newberry said in a statement. “I also want to thank Coach Niumatalolo for taking a chance on me four years ago.
“It is a great honor and privilege to lead this program,” Newberry said. “It is a great responsibility that I fully accept and embrace. I could not be more excited and optimistic about the future of Navy football. The Naval Academy is a special place and we have great young men in our program. Our culture remains strong. I believe whole heartedly in the mission here and have seen firsthand the impact this institution has on the lives of the young men and women who graduate and serve. We will facilitate the values and the mission of the Naval Academy within our program. We will make the Navy football family and all associated with the Naval Academy proud, both on and off the field! Go Navy! Beat everyone!”
Prior to Kennesaw State, where he coordinated from 2015 to ’18, Newberry’s football path includes stops at Northern Michigan, the University of the South, Elon, Washington & Lee and graduate assistant jobs at Rice and Southern Arkansas. Newberry played at Baylor, graduating from there in 1998.