Navy football assistant Ivin Jasper looking forward, not back, as he returns to work
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Tribune News Service) — Ivin Jasper is putting what happened over the weekend behind him and moving forward.
Jasper talked to The Capital on Tuesday, issuing his first public comments since unceremoniously being fired following Saturday night's loss to Air Force and then ultimately being reinstated to the staff on Monday.
Jasper is no longer the offensive coordinator after serving 14 years in the role. He is now strictly the quarterbacks coach, a job he's held for 18 years.
Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk fired Jasper in the locker room following Saturday's 23-3 loss. The Midshipmen managed only 68 total yards and six first downs against a Falcons defense that dominated at the point of attack.
Navy's patented triple-option attack, which has consistently ranked top five nationally in rushing yardage, never got going. The Midshipmen finished with only 36 yards on the ground.
"Obviously, this past weekend was tough. I definitely didn't expect what happened, but it's part of the business," Jasper said. "Part of me understands what happened, from a standpoint of this profession and what my job is. We have to put a good product on the football field and, so far, that hasn't shown."
Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo went to bat for Jasper, who he has known since their days playing football together at the University of Hawaii in the late 1980s. They both served as graduate assistants under Paul Johnson when he was offensive coordinator at Hawaii and followed their mentor to Annapolis when he took the same position at Navy.
After discussing the situation with Niumatalolo, Gladchuk agreed to reinstate Jasper to the staff as quarterbacks coach. Navy's top two quarterbacks, Tai Lavatai and Xavier Arline, are both developing sophomores.
"I appreciate Kenny's support and I'm happy we were able to get things resolved," Jasper said. "I'm going to do my best to get this thing turned around and get this team back to playing Navy football."
Family, friends and supporters have asked Jasper why he would rejoin the Navy coaching staff considering the circumstances. He has given everyone the same answer and says it comes from the heart.
Back in December 2007, when Johnson left Navy to become head coach at Georgia Tech, Jasper had a big decision to make. He could either follow Johnson to an Atlantic Coast Conference school or stay at Navy as offensive coordinator for Niumatalolo.
"The main reason that made me stay here was these young men. I enjoy coaching them, I enjoy being around them and I enjoy seeing their development," Jasper said. "I enjoy seeing the looks on their faces when we win a football game against teams we had no business beating."
Jasper understands winning is the name of the game but believes at the Naval Academy there is a greater calling for a coach than simply what happens on Saturdays.
"Everything I do here is all about these young men. It's always been about these midshipmen," he said. "These players are like sons to me, and I've always enjoyed seeing these guys graduate and go on to do great things in the military or in business. Then they come back with their wife and kids, and you see that they are great husbands and fathers.
"That's one of our primary goals as a staff because the husband and father are ultimate titles any of these players are ever going to have," Jasper added.
Every other Navy assistant reached out to Jasper in the wake of Saturday night's news. Many Navy fans took to social media to express support for the longtime coach, who has spent a total of 22 years in Annapolis.
Jasper likened the response to the support that was shown when his son Jarren was dealing with serious health issues during the 2018 football season.
"My heart is full of joy and love for this coaching staff. I was heartened by all the love and support they showed me and my family," Jasper said. "Also, all the people I don't even know that took to social media to show support. It means a lot to know so many people care. I will never be able to express how much it meant to me."
On Wednesday afternoon, Jasper will conduct his first quarterbacks meeting since Saturday's game and subsequent events. He plans to make it clear to Lavatai, Arline, Maasai Maynor and the other quarterbacks that nothing has changed.
Jasper will order Chik-fil-A or pizza and engage the group in relaxed discussion before getting into football topics.
"I want it to be business as usual," he said. "Tomorrow, I will share some of the things I've realized over the last couple of days. I want them to know and understand where I'm at."
Position coaches with any college football program grow close to those players they work with the most. That is especially the case at the Naval Academy, where the academic and military pressures can be enormous.
"It's always been important that my players understand that I'm human and have feelings. Because I want them to know that if they have problems or issues, that they can talk to me about anything," he said. "I want them to see me as a father figure and a friend, someone they can always confide in."
Lavatai, Arline and Maynor have all seen action this season and improved quarterback play is one of many factors necessary to get the offense going. Jasper does not want the young quarterbacks to feel any extra pressure because of what transpired over the weekend.
"I want them to understand that this has nothing to do with them. Their job is to get ready to play against Houston," he said. "There is no need whatsoever for these guys to take on any undue burden."
Through two games, Navy football ranks last among 130 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in scoring offense with five points per game.
"I know at the center of all this is the fact we have to get better as an offense. We're all working hard to push forward and accomplish that goal," Jasper said. "We know we have to get things going in the right direction — the sooner the better."
(c)2021 The Capital (Annapolis, Md.)
Visit The Capital (Annapolis, Md.) at www.hometownannapolis.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.