Army Navy

Saturday, December 11, 2010

One thing I can never provide to the discussion is the perspective of a USMA alumnus. I didn't attend West Point and the academy experience is lost on me. I do enjoy threads like the Deadspin Army/Navy Aggro-Tourism featuring Army/Navy gameday anecdotes from both Cadets and Midshipmen alike.

Not being a partisan to either academy I took a lot less out of this piece from over at Presnap Read.

Why Does this Game Mean so Much?

The Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy already belongs to Air Force, thanks to its wins over both Army and Navy. The Midshipmen have already clinched their bowl berth: they’ll face San Diego State in the Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 23. Likewise for Army: the Cadets will face off against S.M.U. in the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 30. Any other game with a similar scenario would feel like the final week of the N.F.L. season, when teams already in the playoffs would rest their starters, knowing more important games await. Not this game. What’s left to play for? For Army and Navy, everything.

Everything, that is, except a bowl bid, the CIC trophy/honors and a season ending win - Army/Navy means everything but that.

It's interesting to me that TV can transmit the spectacle itself, but the typical broadcast lacks the impact of having the game mean everything to you as an alum, soldier or a parent. Commercial breaks, sideline shots and production interruptions cut into the -quite literal- fight on the field and go a long way to remove a nonpartisan spectator from the paramount importance that this game holds for its participants.

It's easy to watch the game and feel respect for its participants, the schools, and the student bodies. To grasp what the game actually means to those parties is a lot more difficult to the general television audience partly because of the limitations of the modern television broadcast and partly because today's football is commercial football. We know that none of the players are playing the game for NFL scouts and the seniors will graduate to a very serious reality as military officers, but that still largely represents the civilian understanding of the contest. As a college football fan I do everything I can to keep sport as sport and completely apart from politics. To these players, the sport, if you will, gives way the politics of today and the reality of each Cadet and Midshipman. What is washed away by the TV lights and commercial breaks and holiday messages is that actual meaning to each players, cadet, and alumnus.

In its 111th iteration since commencing in 1890, the history of the Army-Navy game looms large at both academies.

At West Point, it’s hard to turn a corner without catching sight of a “Go Army, Beat Navy” sign somewhere. So it’s pretty easy to get caught up in the excitement this rivalry incites.

Army head coach Rich Ellerson said it’s OK for the team to embrace this excitement and enjoy the moment.

“We need not be overwhelmed by it, not be intimidated by it, and I don’t think we will be,” Ellerson said. “We’re not just talking about that. That’s the focus in our preparation.”

So, what is the real sentiment of this game? Is it the inherent respect of the athletes and students? Is it the pageantry and tradition of the game? Is it the civilian perception of the contest? The national spotlight? Perhaps it's an aggregation of all these things. I don't profess knowledge in what it means to be a Cadet, but I do look forward to the game. What might I take from the game? Well this is Army's chance to secure a winning record - to me that is huge. This is Army's shot to end the streak... in  terms of Army's football program, that's pretty big as well.

One way to make 2010 Army/Navy important is for the Black Knights to bring this one home. Army can enter the post season on a huge high and render moot the outcome of the postseason game. What's on the line for Army is pride. If Army loses to Navy, the bowl game grows in importance as the game that gets Army over the hump. Either way, the Cadets still gain 15 practices in the bowl season. 

The Army/Navy game notes are here. (PDF)

Kickoff is scheduled for 2:40 ET. There will be internet availability.


Army/Navy 2010 Media Blitz

Thursday, December 9, 2010

In case you forgot, there is still regular season football to be played. No bowl bids hinge on this one, no conference championship is going to be handed out - even the Commander in Chief trophy residing 1700 miles west of Philadelphia. Low stakes game, right?

Sure... This one can set the tone for either program - win or lose. This game is about as must-win for a team that just qualified for its first bowl in 14 years and just re-signed its head coach.

So yeah it's a long layoff and a big game.

As an aside, I love the venom that the ESPN college football trolls spew forth on any given football article. How do you go about being assholish on a service academy news story? Well commit one obvious typo in the record and some douche called colfootball198 will show you how.

How hard is it to check a record? Army is 6-5 not 6-3.

Is that all you have to say? then save it. You really care enough that you're the first one to notice a typo to go to the trouble to log in and complain? Pure class. It's garbage like that which ruins for me. If I wanted to hear idiots talk shit nonstop I would move to an apartment above a bar. UNBELIEVABLE assholism goes on on those comment boards, and when it comes down to it that is just the tip of the idiot iceberg on

The basic news story is here... standard AP stuff.

A look at the 111 game history of the rivalry can be found her in three parts, pretty interesting read there.
Make sure to check out all three parts.

A really interesting read from the Washington Post details some of the nuances of Navy's season and highlights some of Army's  success in 2010.

Navy has played two teams this season that run the option, Georgia Southern and Air Force, with mixed results. Division I-AA Georgia Southern, which like Navy runs the triple option, managed just 73 yards rushing and 109 yards overall. The Midshipmen won that game, 13-7...

Army's option attack ranks ninth nationally at 260 rushing yards per game. The Black Knights have rushed for 33 touchdowns this season, their most since 1996, which not coincidentally was the last time they were bowl eligible. Since then, Army is 24-7 when rushing for at least 300 yards.

"With Army, it's more like smash-mouth football," Navy senior linebacker Tyler Simmons said. "It's going to go head-to-head. It takes us kind of back to a camp mentality when we're playing against our offense, smashing skulls. They always come out hard against us no matter what. We've got to come out swinging."

For historical perspective you can read the opinion of Nicolaus Mills.

This year's game, like those of the past, marks the last time most of both teams' seniors will ever step on a football field. As they have known ever since they arrived at West Point and Annapolis, what awaits them is not a tryout in the National Football League or a lucrative job in business, but active service, which these days amounts to a five-year commitment. In no other athletic rivalry is the price of participation higher.

Except that opinion neglects that both teams will be playing in bowl games to close out the seniors' careers.

The game has other importance for the seniors. For Steve Anderson, it is his shot to elevate his game against Navy one last time

Anderson can't forget the smiles on the faces of Navy players and the hurt in his brothers' eyes as the Midshipman sang their alma mater's song last year following Navy's eighth straight win in the series.

"After that loss, there was a pain knowing I had no control of what the outcome of that game could be," Anderson said. "I just knew something had to change and it was going to be my senior year."

Without Anderson, Army's defense held its own but it wasn't enough in a 17-3 defeat. Now, Army has its emotional voice and leader back on the field.

Sal does a Q&A with Annapolis Navy beat writer Bill Wagner it's a so-so collaborative effort, but both of these guys have other solid stuff out there right now.

Such as:
Wagner touches on the nuances of the Army offense in this piece.

Army's option is a mixture of various philosophies. Offensive coordinator Ian Shields was a quarterback at Oregon State in the early 1990s when that program employed an option attack. Shields has borrowed heavily from the veer package created by former Houston head coach Bill Yeoman, the wishbone-style option developed by legendary Texas offensive coordinator Emory Bellard and the Wing-T made famous by former Delaware head coach Tubby Raymond.

"There are a lot of commonalities between what we do and what Air Force and Navy do. In terms of the option genealogy we all come from the same tree," Shields said. "There are no secrets among the service academies. We're not doing anything new. Our base plays are all option in nature. We've just added some complimentary stuff we feel fits our personnel and offensive philosophy."

Sal Interdonato gets into the fullback arms race featuring Jared Hassin vs. Alexander Teich.

Teich tells Navy quarterback to throw it up anywhere and he'll grab it. Two of his five receptions have gone for touchdowns, including a 31-yard rumble against Notre Dame.

Hassin is tied for second on the team with 11 catches, with eight having gone for 10 yards or more and a first down.

"You still get tackled sometimes," Hassin pointed out. "Getting involved in the passing game has been a lot of fun. It's a great opportunity and another way to contribute to the offense."

I'll try to stay astride of the news stories as we move forward. If you only hit one link on this post go on over to The Bird Dog where he takes a look at the Black Knight defense. I don't care how bad you hate Navy or why, there is some quality football analysis going on over at The Bird Dog

BlogPoll Top 25 Week 15

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Here's a look at the final top 25 of the season.

Technically, I will have to slot Navy up or down depending on the outcome of the Army/Navy game, but for all intents and purposes this is the final Unbalanced Line top 25 of the year.

Whether or not I update the top 25 after Army/Navy I doubt I will post another Top 25 after the bowls.I guess that could be my chance to rail against the BCS system or a cue to begin fearmongering against the institution of a college football playoff, but I'll just air it out now that this will likely be the final ranking of the season.

Maybe that will change - and I will explain myself if it does. As for now the only explanation I feel required to offer is that with three undefeated teams, my opinion on the national title picture is irrelevant. In fact all organized attempts to decide a champion are moot and that's because of the bizarre fascination of football fans to try to find one champion within a conglomeration of 10 leagues. The bowls just might leave the 2010 season with one single undefeated team, and even if it does - one thing will remain very clear: the BCS system is a flawed one, and until football fans relinquish our obsession with made up designations like "THE BEST" and "#1" the game will remain in its current corrupt and flawed form.

Hard Hitting Coaching News in the East

BLAOW!  Rich Ellerson's contract was extended today. Coach E's contract now runs through 2015, which ends up being a standard contract extension. As the team transitions into the fast approaching offseason a new contract for Ellerson is a helpful tool on the recruiting trail and it's a reward that Ellerson earned through two years of good work with the Army football program. Congrats to Rich Ellerson, let's keep it going.

Just as Ellerson was extended, Dave Wannstedt was let go by Pittsburgh. I was always a pretty big fan of Wannstedt at Pitt, but after losses to Connecticut and WVU many Panther fans backed the 'Stache. After 6 years coaching football at our alma mater Wannstedt had burned up all of the administration's goodwill and lost his appointment over it.

Was firing Wannstedt the right move? I don't know. Wanny had a top 25 recruiting class coming in next year, which will certainly suffer some losses due to Wannstedt's firing. Considering Pittsburgh's noted tightwad approach to signing football coaches they won't be bringing in a marquee name as coach. I don't have a clue where they would start their search, but now that the damage is done I can only hope they clean house and at the very least bring in an exciting offensive coach and try to fill the 65000 seats at Heinz Field.

I suppose the silver lining of Wannstedt's firing is that now Pitt fans can shut the fuck up about Fire Wannstedt already. Jesus that song got old. Maybe Pitt partisans can go back to aggravating me by bitching about 'script Pitt' uniforms - but as long as I don't have to hear about it every day, that's cool with me.
All Pitt fans should prepare to tighten their belts because Panthers football is set to get a lot worse before they get any better.



So there's a short ton of stuff I want to get to - some stuff is Army fb news I need to catch up on and other stuff has to do with the end of the season and finally getting some clarity on the 2010 season.

First thing's first though... Army has achieved its goal of postseason play. That doesn't make the season a success- it just shows that the Black Knights have achieved one of their season goals. Army plays SMU at their stadium on December 30th.
Earlier today I watched the rerun of SMU laying down in the second half for Navy, but this has the makings of a nice matchup.  I promise you SMU is no slouch - nor is Army - and the game should be a good one. 

I have plenty of time to give the Bell Helicopters Armed Forces Bowl the attention it deserves but for now the entire college season is finished and available for our examination. Conference championships have been won and bowl bids have been handed out, the entire season is available for our review. Without mentioning our team's unfinished business - it's tough to say what level of success Army has achieved in 2010.

The late-December bowl game is a huge bonus. Any circumstance that keeps the team practicing through 2011 is clutch. Ellerson keeps his guys going a little later in the year and it gives the Knights a chance to really try out some of next year's guys pre-spring. That itself can be a program changer. With Army losing 4 of their 5 linemen these pre-spring reps will make a difference in the play of next year's OL starters.

I'm pumped up about the bowl game, but I'll turn my focus to the Navy tilt. Starting tomorrow I'll catch up with the Navy game news and take a further look at the 2010 season that was.


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