The connections between BYU and Navy have been well documented since the upcoming matchup was announced just a few weeks ago. But the man with the deepest ties between the two programs isn’t Kalani Sitake or Ken Niumatalolo.
Navy Slotbacks Coach Joe DuPaix spent two seasons in Provo as the recruiting coordinator and running backs coach at BYU where he helped lead the Cougars to an 18-8 overall record, including back-to-back bowl wins and a 10-win season in 2011 before being named Head Coach at Southern Virginia prior to joining Ken Niumatalolo’s staff at Navy as an Assistant Coach in 2018.
DuPaix joined Ben Criddle on ESPN 960 Radio to discuss his ties between the two programs, his journey from BYU to Navy and the upcoming game on Monday night.
“It’s pretty exciting [to see BYU on the schedule],” DuPaix said. “Utah is my home. Utah is where I fell in love with football … now to actually play an in-state school in BYU is going to be really exciting just from the standpoint that I feel like I know them really well.”
Having coached at both schools, DuPaix has realized how similar BYU and Navy are as schools and as football programs.
“There are a lot of similarities, simply from the philosophy and the culture of the university,” DuPaix told Cougar Sports. “You have a place like BYU, it’s honor, it’s integrity, it’s do what you’re supposed to do and follow the guidelines and the commandments essentially when you talk about the religious standpoint. And with Navy you’re talking about a lot of those same types of things. You’re talking about men with true integrity who are willing to ultimately give their life if asked to … so you have these similarities between both programs with Navy and BYU as far as hardworking, disciplined, responsible young men.”
As the slotbacks coach for a program that runs the triple-option offense, DuPaix has been key to the success of this Navy Football team over the past several years.
“I love my guys. I am so lucky, so humble to be able to coach them,” DuPaix said. “The cool thing about what we do is it’s not just a one-star highlight reel. It’s a team. And we need to work as 11 to make that team go … the guys that I have in my room are super unselfish.”
As far as players that BYU fans need to keep their eyes on when the Cougars face-off against the Midshipmen on Monday night, many of them are being coached by DuPaix.
“You look at number 13, Chance Warren, phenomenal athlete, great player. The kid’s just a baller. Myles Fells, number 23, same deal. He’s just a great person. He’s a kid that I could see, easily, as a future leader in our country … Justin Smith, number 24, that you’ll certainly see as well. So again, for us it’s not just one guy in the game at running back, it’s a handful, and it’s done by committee, it’s always been done by committee and it’s done for purpose.”
While it’s not every day you coach against your former school, DuPaix is just excited to get the game underway and get back to football.
“I’m just excited to get on the field and go out and compete with two really, really great football programs that have a tremendous amount of history and tradition, and to be on primetime television ESPN, that’s the big game of the whole weekend. It’s really a cool deal.”