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REPORT: Khalil Tate tweeted to scuttle potential UA football head coach hire

Posted at 1:05 PM, Jul 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-24 16:19:55-04

According to a story making the rounds in national media, UA quarterback Khalil Tate may have stopped the hiring of a leading head football coach candidate with a single tweet.

The Bleacher Report's Matt Hayes reports that Tate's tweet played a significant part in the UA deciding not to hire Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo to replace Rich Rodriguez, who was fired in January after coaching the team from 2012 to 2017.

Shortly after Niumatalolo, who runs a conservative triple-option offense, was offered the job Jan. 12, Tate tweeted "I didn't come to Arizona to run the triple option."

The tweet went viral, and then Tate deleted it.

Tate told Hayes that was all part of the plan.

"I knew exactly what I was doing when I tweeted that out," Tate told Hayes. "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 said other players felt the same way about the hire, and that he meant to speak for them as well by trying to make the powers that be reconsider the move. Fears that Tate -- a potential Heisman candidate who could be one of the top players picked in the next NFL Draft -- and other key players might have transferred due to an unpopular hire may have played a hand in the change of course.

UA president Robert Robbins told Bleacher Report that he appreciates when athletes speak up.

"I want our student-athletes to have a voice," he said. "I want them to be disruptive problem solvers."

Days later, Niumatalolo was no longer a candidate, clearing the way for the UA to hire Kevin Sumlin.

Tate threw for 1,591 yards last year, connecting on 62 percent of his passes and tossing 14 touchdown passes. He ran for 1,411 yards.

The Wildcats, with Tate behind center, open the season Sept. 1 against BYU.