Unless you've been living under a rock, you have probably heard that Navy head coach Paul Johnson is on his way to Atlanta, Georgia to coach Georgia Tech. Johnson spent 6 years in Annapolis creating one of the most potent offenses in the country, employing the now rarely used triple option. His coaching propelled the program to a success it had not seen since the days of George Welsh. That success made Johnson a hot commodity and it finally caught up with the Midshipmen, as they've had to replace their often revered head coach.
Replacing Johnson will be offensive line coach Ken Niumatalolo -- thought to be the first Polynesian head coach in NCAA history. Niumatalolo has had a history running the triple option under Johnson and has ties to the Navy program outside of his current stint, as he was the offensive coordinator there under former Utah State head coach Charlie Weatherbie. Though Weatherbie had a dramatically different offense while at Navy than Johnson, Niumatalolo will most likely keep the triple option, as it has been proven to be one of the most successful styles for the Midshipmen.
So what does this mean for Utah? Hard to say. While the Utah game will be Niumatalolo's first game as a head coach, the players have been groomed for quite some time under Johnson. So even if Niumatalolo turns out to be an utter failure as a head coach, it isn't likely to show until he has a more dramatic influence on the program. Which means I don't see that being an issue for the Utah-Navy game and don't expect there to be much difference in the way Navy plans for this game under Niumatalolo than they would under Johnson.
Niumatalolo appears to be keeping much of the staff intact, which is a huge plus, especially on the offensive end. That should lower the chance of major turmoil entering the game, which is a positive for Navy. Looking at what has transpired the past few days, I don't think this coaching change will hurt Navy all that much in the bowl game. Stability is important, as Utah fans saw in the Fiesta Bowl when Urban Meyer had already accepted the Florida gig. Since Niumatalolo has been with the program for a while and has coached under Paul Johnson since Johnson's arrival in Annapolis, I expect Navy to play just as well as they would if Paul Johnson were roaming the sidelines. However, will that be enough to win the game? Hopefully not.