Former Arizona offensive lineman Edwin Mulitalo has reached a level none of his Wildcat brethren have in the past.
The news went unnoticed in Tucson, but Mulitalo was hired as Southern Virginia’s head coach on March 30. I put some research into it and asked former players and members of the media and determined that Mulitalo’s hire makes him the first former Wildcat to become a head coach at the college level.
Mulitalo, an offensive lineman who played for Dick Tomey from 1997-98, is the first Arizona football player to become a head coach in college since Leslie Gillett was a player-coach at Arizona in 1902.
As a Polynesian-American, Mulitalo also now joins Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo and Brigham Young University’s Kalani Sitake as one of three Polynesians to become an NCAA head football coach.
Southern Virginia, located at Buena Vista, Va., is a Division III private school aligned with values of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Mulitalo, who won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, is in his third year at Southern Virginia. The 10-year NFL veteran was the defensive coordinator for the Knights the previous two seasons. He replaced Joe DuPaix, who was hired by Niumatalolo at Navy as slotbacks coach.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity to work with Joe at Southern Virginia and to be a part of this program,” Mulitalo said in a statement released by the school. “The whole process over the last two years has been great and I’m excited to step into this new role and opportunity to impact our players.
“I couldn’t have done this without my wife Laura. She followed me to Samoa and now to Virginia, and I’m grateful for her and all of our great family. I’m also thankful for Joe and his example to me. He’s a straight-arrow coach, and I was able to learn from him the attention to detail that running a program requires.”
Former Arizona teammate Kelvin Eafon, a sports radio personality in Tucson who also coaches youth basketball, said of Mulitalo’s hire: “It’s great. He is a really good guy and I think he will do anything to help those young men.”
Mulitalo is also the 33rd former Arizona athlete who is currently a head coach at either the high school, college or pro ranks. Here is a list of the 33: