“When do these kids get a break?”

It’s nice that Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo thinks the grind of a 14-week college football schedule is pushing it for student-athletes.

“I feel for these guys right now,” Niumatalolo told the Sentinel of his Midshipmen players. “These guys don’t get any breaks … they go year-round.”

Niumatalolo, 52, points out that unlike when he played in the late 1980s, being a college football player nowadays requires a year-round commitment. Most freshmen enroll early and many players spend much of their offseason in the weight rooms with strength coaches or at camps instead of working out by themselves.

“When do these kids get a break?” he asks.

Niumatalolo has his own unique perspective on the situation.

As a parent of two sons currently playing college football at the Football Bowl Subdivision level, he’s witnessed firsthand the impact of being a football player in the modern era.

“It never ends for them,” Niumatalolo adds.

In the wake of the NCAA recently eliminating two-a-day practices, some coaches have pushed up the start of fall practices a week earlier than normal in order to get the maximum 29 practices in before the start of the football season. In Navy’s case, for instance, fall practice begins on July 31.

I just wish he wasn’t finding something of an equivalence between their situation and that of his assistant coaches, who get paid for their time.

Both Niumatalolo and Leipold expressed concern for the wear-and-tear a prolonged season would have on their assistant coaches.

“We continue to shorten the calendar on time for our assistant coaches ….” Leipold said of the possible impact on his staff. “You start doing this and we’ve got to really be concerned about the life of an assistant football coach at the FBS level.”

“You go from the season to recruiting, to spring ball and during spring recruiting you’re going to have official visits …” adds Niumatalolo, who points to changes to the recruiting calendar with an early signing period in December and open recruiting in the months of April, May, and June. “It’s just becoming such a vicious cycle. I don’t see where it ends.

Yeah, that’s a shame.  Too bad all they get is a scholarship and free food… oh, wait.


Filed under College Football

9 responses to ““When do these kids get a break?”

  1. PharmDawg

    Navy midshipmen are paid $1027 monthly.


  2. Macallanlover

    These are excellent comments by the Navy coach, the wear and tear brought on by the year round nature of CFB needs to be addressed by the NCAA. It is taxing on both players and coaches, and their families, but will only improve if restrictions are national in scope….and enforced.

    Too bad this solid position about people needing more time in their life than any singular pursuit was diminished by the sarcasm of a side agenda. Even if all parties had unlimited funds and benefits, you need time to pursue other interests and places. I feel both coaches and players are well treated, and in an enviable/privileged position these days, but the sport can be accomplished in much less than the obsessive 365 day pursuit we now see. I hope others take up the cause with Coach Niumatalolo.


  3. Mayor

    “All they get is a scholarship and free food…” Unless you go to Auburn or Ole Miss. At least Ole Miss has been caught and stopped. When are they going to put the Auburn cheat machine out of business? Cam Newton took a pay cut when he went to Carolina.


  4. Dog in Fla

    “These guys don’t get any breaks … they go year-round.”

    At Navy, that’s the whole point


    • 79DawgatWork

      But its like that at the football factories too.
      Many here constantly say “they’re getting an education,” but the fact of the matter is that they spend infinitely more time on the practice field, weight room, team meetings, travel, etc. than they do in the classroom. These kids do not have a “college experience.” Academics always bows to Athletics whenever there is a conflict (when was the last time you heard about a player missing a practice, much less a game, for an exam?). There is no summer break, and football and basketball players get almost no break during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Many of them are, in effect, “mercenaries”, going to whichever school they think gives them the best shot at the NFL/NBA.
      The romantic version of Joe from your hometown, a life-long Bulldog fan whose sole goal in life was to play football at Georgia, worked hard and got a scholarship, and earned a solid degree and was able to enjoy the college life while also playing football is, and has been for at least the last 15 to 20 years, dead pretty much everywhere except the service academies…