As Arizona was looking for a new coach the Wildcats were reportedly considering Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo. But Arizona QB Khalil Tate wasn’t a fan of that.
Niumatalolo’s preferred offense is the triple-option, a system that works well at Navy and has propelled the team to perennial bowl appearances. It’s a system that could have worked well at Arizona too, especially with a dynamic playmaker at quarterback.
Tate was having none of that possibility. He tweeted in January that he “didn’t come to Arizona to run the tripple [sic] option.”
That was a calculated move.
‘I knew exactly what I was doing’
In an interview with Bleacher Report, Tate said his tweet against Niumatalolo’s candidacy wasn’t a spur of the moment reaction that he currently regrets.
“I knew exactly what I was doing when I tweeted that out,” Tate told Bleacher Report. “I don’t do Twitter. When I tweet something, I download the app, tweet, then delete the app from my phone. So when I tweet, it’s important.”
Tate deleted the tweet as well, for what it’s worth. He told the site that he was also expressing his anti-option thoughts on behalf of his teammates. And deleting the tweet was part of the master plan, he said.
“I had to make sure I was heard, make sure the team was heard, because my teammates didn’t want to run the triple option, either,” Tate continues. “So the idea was to tweet it out, let it get traction, then delete it. I knew people reading it would say, ‘Why did he delete it?’ But that just magnifies it more.”
After his tweet, Tate said he would give Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke his feedback regarding potential candidates. Ultimately, Arizona hired former Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin. His offense is not based around the triple-option.
Tate is a Heisman candidate in 2018
If Tate acclimates to Sumlin’s non-triple option offense quickly then he’s got a chance to be the most productive quarterback in college football in 2018. Tate took college football world by storm a year ago after he began the season on the sidelines. He rushed for 1,411 yards and 12 touchdowns while averaging over nine yards a carry. He also completed 62 percent of his passes and threw for nearly 1,600 yards and 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Coincidentally, or ironically if you prefer, much of Tate’s rushing success came via former coach Rich Rodriguez’s spread offense, an offense that employs a lot of option concepts. But it’s based in the shotgun (like Sumlin’s offense) and not under center like Niumatalolo’s Navy offense. That’s apparently a big thing for Tate and members of Arizona’s offense.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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