Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate was recruited by Rich Rodriguez in large part because of his running ability. With 1,411 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground in his first season as a starter, Tate proved he’s one of the best running quarterbacks in the nation.
But a reported offer to a prospective head coach on Friday now has the Wildcats fearing Tate could be running out of the program. Thanks to a tweet by Tate himself.
Shortly after the Arizona Daily Star reported the school had offered its head-coaching position to Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo, Tate tweeted “I didn’t come to Arizona to run the tripple (sic) option.” The tweet was deleted but captured by some outlets before it was removed.
Arizona QB Khalil Tate tweeted this moments after Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo emerged as a strong candidate for the UA head coaching position. Niumatalolo runs a triple option offense at Navy. ???? pic.twitter.com/grwgOeVUjp
— The Wildcaster (@TheWildcaster) January 12, 2018
Earlier in the week, Tate’s mother told the Daily Star her son was committed to remaining at Arizona, regardless of whom the school hired to replace Rodriguez after his sudden firing last week. She then walked those comments back on Wednesday.
And now Wildcat Nation is scrambling, despite nothing being made official with Niumatalolo.
In 10 full seasons as the head coach at Navy, Niumatalolo is 84-48 and has led the Midshipmen to a bowl game in all but one season.
The reservations stem from his scheme. Like the other service academies, Navy runs the triple option. Navy threw just 102 passes for 1,005 yards in all of 2017. By comparison, Tate threw 179 passes for 1,591 yards, and he did not play full-time until Week 5.
Niumatalolo could also offer Tate some firsthand perspective if indeed he needs to convince the quarterback to stay — and, of course, if he takes the Arizona job.
Niumatalolo himself played quarterback for three seasons at Hawaii. He also ran the ball (84 rushing attempts) more than he threw it (59 passes) in his college career.
–Field Level Media