Navy decided to hire a familiar face to take over its football program — and Brian Newberry doesn’t expect a major overhaul to the way the Midshipmen operate.
“This is not a rebuild. Our program is not broken,” said Newberry, who was promoted Monday. “We’ve got a great nucleus of players coming back. My expectations for what we can achieve next year are sky-high.”
The former defensive coordinator replaces Ken Niumatalolo, who was fired after going 4-8 this season. When athletic director Chet Gladchuk spoke with reporters last week, he spent a lot of time outlining his expectations for the program in what seemed like an attempt to explain Niumatalolo’s ouster.
However, he and Newberry made it clear Tuesday that there is a lot about Navy football that isn’t going to change.
“We’re not going to necessarily get the biggest, the strongest and the fastest, but we’re going to recruit people with incredible desire and determination,” Gladchuk said. “Developing those players and making good players great players is something that’s really important at the Naval Academy.”
Navy also stayed in house the last time it changed coaches. In 2007, when Paul Johnson left to take over at Georgia Tech, Niumatalolo was promoted. He coached Navy’s bowl that season, then was in charge for 15 more years and set a program record for wins.
But the Midshipmen went just 11-23 the past three seasons.
Newberry was Navy’s defensive coordinator for the past four seasons. Gladchuk said he met with a number of players, and Newberry had quite a bit of support.
“Both sides of the ball,” Gladchuk said. “You’d think that the defensive players that are closest to Coach Newberry would be his greatest advocates, but that wasn’t necessarily the case. The offense as well, were extremely supportive.”
Newberry’s defense was sixth in the nation against the run this year, and it certainly wasn’t to blame for Navy’s season-ending loss to Army — when the Midshipmen allowed only 153 yards of offense. Linebackers coach P.J. Volker is staying on as defensive coordinator.
As for the offense, Navy isn’t about to abandon its triple option.
“We know we’ve got to be able to run the football, we know we have to have an element of triple option,” Newberry said. “There’s a lot of ways to skin a cat, talking to a lot of different people, a lot of people out there really creative in what they’re doing.”
Newberry played at Baylor and graduated in 1998. He previously was defensive coordinator at Kennesaw State, Northern Michigan, the University of the South and Washington & Lee.
“Being a head coach has never necessarily been the end-all, be-all for me. I didn’t grow up with that being the main goal for me,” he said. “I love being a coordinator, I love calling the plays. It wasn’t until probably the last really three or four years … that I really started to see myself in that role.”
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