Navy/Army Link Clearance

Friday, December 9, 2011

A lot of stuff out there, written from many different angles.

I'm expecting Phil Steele's preview any minute now. Check his blog for his Army/Navy prediction.

There's this nostalgic piece from the Washington Post.

Rain fell steadily during Navy football practice Wednesday afternoon, and a brisk wind off the bay at times made conditions downright miserable. Yet players wearing half sleeves and shorts hollered enthusiastically, shrugging off the elements to enjoy one of the last days they’ll have together on the football field.
This one takes on the historical angle recounting and glorifying the 1944 Army/Navy Navy/Army game.

The Annapolis Capital gets around to doing a piece on Army' progress

...Ellerson does not see his third season in West Point as a step backward. Rather, the upbeat and positive 57-year-old thinks the Black Knights continue to make progress in terms of building the foundation that will lead to sustained success.
"This is working. I can't prove that with results. It doesn't show on the scoreboard, but I can promise you this is happening," Ellerson said. "I'm not happy with the record, but I am happy with the culture we're developing, the mentality we're creating, the success we're having in recruiting. I see signs every day that Army football is strengthening and moving forward."

There's this pining piece that seems to want to take the Navy/Army game over perhaps even the national title game.

There will be no spectacular aerial displays by strong-armed quarterbacks. One team is ranked 119th, next-to-last, in the nation in passing. The other is No. 120.
Don't care.
The polls don't mention them. The Bowl Championship Series computers have never heard of them. Mel Kiper Jr., does not have one name from either team on his NFL draft big board.
Neither here nor there.
I get that the game means a lot - it's a great rivalry; but these are the same teams that are playing in 22 other football games this year. I just wish there was a shred of this kind of passion from mainstream news outlets during weeks 2-12.

I probably posted a link to the game notes earlier in the week, but I find myself going back to the PDF version, so I'll just drop it here.  Game Notes (PDF)


A Whiff of Scandal

Thursday, December 8, 2011

 I don't know how quickly nor how big this story will blow up. It could be overshadowed by CBS's squeaky-clean network TV coverage or it may ride the wave of national and online Navy/Army media coverage.

I don't know.

I do know it's not good, and if the story turns out to be true it will spell curtains for Army's defensive line coach. Forget about military protocol in regard to Holmes' discharge... if the story is even a little bit true the coach will simply have to be removed.

Granted, this story isn't as shocking as some of the other sex scandals in college sports this year - but if the allegations prove to be true we're looking at a situation where Army football gets lumped into the conversation with the likes of Penn State and Syracuse basketball.

I'll reserve what thoughts I have on the institution of marriage and of course this story is not the same thing as those other sex abuse cases, but who Coach Holmes is and where he graduated from makes the issue big news. To the observer this is a trained and trusted leader who by getting involved with a very young girl compromised not only his job but also his family.

It is a troubling story and it's a fire-able offense. I'm sure we'll hear more about it as more comes to light.


A Few More Navy/Army Items

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Here's a keys to the game article that touches on pretty much all of the same keys to the game for every Army Navy game. Maybe I'm just tired of hearing that Army needs to "take care of the football", but those keys look cliche'd.

Here's a look at the Washington D.C.'s efforts to host their first Navy/Army game.

It didn't hurt that FedEx Field is a 91,000-seat stadium, making it the largest venue to ever host the Army-Navy game. Sweeney said Saturday's service academy showdown is a sellout and that means more revenue for both institutions.

This article is noteworthy because it's from some site called

Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno and Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert have been posting on Facebook to stoke the friendly but fierce rivalry between the Army's U.S Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Were were these guys after the teams' respective losses to Rutgers?

This last one is a very nice article highlighting some of the history of the rivalry,  it's a fun read.


Yearbook: McMurray College Totem

The Portal to Texas History has McMurray College Totem yearbooks available online.

There are a few notes to add to the story of McMurray. Firstly the school was created in 1923 - it is quite impressive that the school not only fielded a football team in it's first year, but also published a yearbook for that year as well.

1923 McMurray College Football team

Also of note are these yearbooks' heavy reliance on native American imagery throughout the school's own history and traditions. McMurray's teams were named the Indians up until 2006 when the NCAA demanded that teams with Native American mascots change their names. 

From awading the honor of wearing the "Indian Head" to football letter-men to calling the J-V team "The Papooses", McMurray layed the indian stuff on thickly. Even as recently as 2005 the indian imagery was flat-out over the top.

You can read how McMurray responded to the NCAA's house cleaning on their Wikipedia site.

The scans are fine, with some years/pages turning out better than others, but I will add the one usability note that the Texas Portal Yearbooks are sometimes hard to peruse. I suggest clicking the "All Pages" button in the middle of the right sidebar.

Another good yearbook: The McMurray College Totem.


It is the mission of The Unbalanced Line Online Library to present important and interesting historical texts to college football fans. Items will be added regularly as blog postings and can be easily indexed in the Yearbooks button on the site bar.

Copyrighted material is used expressly under the fair use guidelines of U.S. Code 17 #107 through #118 stating that the criticism, comment, news reporting, educational use or research of copyrighted material is not held in violation of copyright laws.

_______________ © 2011 The Unbalanced Line _______________

Rodriguez Earns Campbell Trophy

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Andrew Rodriguez was awarded the William V. Campbell trophy earlier tonight.

From the Football Foundation press release:

Carrying a 4.14 GPA as a mechanical engineering major, Rodriguez ranks third in a class of 1,052 cadets. He has posted 21 A-plus grades and recorded six terms with a GPA of 4.0 or higher. He is a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-District honoree and has qualified for the Dean's List five times.

On the field, Rodriguez claims 140 career tackles in 23 career games. As a sophomore in 2009, Rodriguez stepped into the starting lineup at linebacker and led the Black Knights with 85 tackles while also registering two interceptions, three pass breakups, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 1.5 tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks. He recorded a career-best 15 tackles versus archrival Navy and also posted 14 stops against rival Air Force that season.

Just try to top that.

On a team of leaders from a school of even more leaders A-Rod's commitment to excellence paid off with this prestigious award.

Well earned, old boy!


You've Got To Compare

Well, I guess you don't have to... I purposefully go for long stretches without comparing Army and Navy on the gridiron. Army has been playing catch up for years now and are just now finding some stable footing in the coaching department. The schemes are right, the mindset is right - I have no reason to think that Ellerson isn't the right coach for the job.

Navy found coaching stability by promoting Niumatalolo from within Paul Johnson's staff. Their success against the Cadets can't be argued.

 The Mids have won nine straight games against the Black Knights, the longest stretch of dominance by either side in a series entering its 112th meeting. Navy’s average victory margin in that span is 25.7 points, and the Mids have yet to lose since Paul Johnson was hired and installed the current triple-option attack after the 2001 season.

That's a convincing stretch of games for Navy... one that has defined the recent Army/Navy Navy/Army series. Game notes (PDF)

The Mids have won the last nine encounters in very convincing fashion, outscoring Army 319-91 in those showings. Navy posted the series’ most lopsided back-to-back victories in 2002 and 2003, winning those contests by a total of 74 points.

Army has been outscored 319-91. Army can chill with direct comparisons until they can beat Navy.

Has Army closed the talent gap? Well, it has clearly been a large gap. Very large, 0-for-9 large; 319-91 large. Both teams are home for the postseason, but the last decade's worth of dominance gives Navy every right to brag about a percieved talent gap. They earned it... Navy: go ahead and boast. Once Army gets the next win in the series the talent gap talk is over.

Well, over that is,  until Navy decides about  membership in the Big East.

The story broke today that Houston, SMU, San Diego State, Boise and UCF will join the Big East.

As per usual, the additions don't strengthen the league - but the current BCS rankings of Houston and Boise should save the league's BCS bid for the next evaluation term. The problem is that the constant evacuation of good teams in legitimate eastern markets has made the future Big East neither big nor eastern and definitely raises questions about the league's status as a BCS auto-qualifyer.

Navy is no guarantee for the Big East.

The Big East is hoping that Air Force can round on the west and Navy the east. But, for now, that's still just a plan.

...just as the Big East is no guarantee for Navy's success.

If Navy goes they will lose control of most of their schedule and will, at least for a while, participate in a BCS conference presumably against BCS talent.

That is a tougher go than what Army tried in the Conf. USA, but it is clear that Navy has the benefit of having a program that is pointed in the right direction. They aren't going to experiment with a pro-set, but they won't have many easy games week to week. My main concern is that Navy will languish in the conference with below-BCS-level talent but stockpile the top service academy candidates by virtue of the Big East auto-bid.

I have no idea how it will turn out, but as long as Army stays independent I don't care even a little bit what anyone else in eastern football does.

Conference membership could sink Navy as a program, but at the same time bolster their CIC trophy aspirations.

It will be interesting to see how it plays out.


Steelman Will Start

Directly from Coach E's Presser

"Trent's good. He started practicing the middle of last week. I wouldn't say he's 100 percent, but I think he will be by Saturday. Yes (he will be our starter)."



Navy/Army Media Blitz

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's that time of year again. Media outlets from across the land want to get a word in on the Army Navy  Navy/Army game.

In a year like this one for both Army and Navy the go-to cliche is in play: "you can throw out the records for this one"

The game is in Washington D.C. which bills as a neutral site game, but the Washington Post is quite comfortable covering Annapolis' team.

At a time of the year when many college football players are looking ahead to the NFL draft, Navy’s Alexander Teich is bracing for survival under water with his hands and feet bound. That’s otherwise known as drown-proofing, and it’s among the many extreme requirements confronting the senior fullback if he is to become a Navy SEAL.

Army gets a profile piece from, not much new to find out there, but I like to see football press coming off a .mil site.

 Military Times takes the historical angle with the story of the first televised instant replay.

Pointer View has a Navy/Army piece up.

and they list this week's Army/Navy Navy/Army week activities.

Good times.

Sal adds in that this game has as much import as the prevous ten games combined.

Some Army fans had higher hopes for a team coming off its first winning season since 1996 with most of its skilled offensive players back. But, a schedule with eight bowl-eligible teams and key injuries to defensive end Jarrett Mackey and quarterback Trent Steelman made that goal even tougher.

The game has certainly has gravity. We knew it would be a rebuilding year, and the Black Knights' record has proved so much.

My take last year was that Army would have to generate more progress apart from the Navy game... well that progress has been minute... so now we're back to comparing Army with Navy. 

Whether or not Army beats Navy next year we know Army is making progress, for now the Black Knights are going to have to quantify that progress in other terms. For at least one calendar year we've got to look to other manifestations of progress. That isn't to say Army can't compete with Navy, that is just saying that the Black Knights have to manifest more progress until the next time Army plays Navy.

I don't know what to take from this one other than, if you happen to be in DC, indulge yourself with some Army/Navy Navy/Army cupcakes while you watch A Game of Honor.

Sal has another chat up in it he answered a couple of questions of mine.

Sal is as inside as it gets with the Army team and has done another great job this year. His practice blogs go a long way to keeping fans informed.

I'm sure there's more, but I'm short on time. I'll hopefully get a chance to touch on other stuff tomorrow.

I for one really want Army to end the streak just so I can stop having to refer to it as Navy/Army, but until the Black Knights win, I'll keep referring to it as that.


Blogpoll Ballot Week 15

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Not to be confused with the last week of the season, here is another questionable blog poll.

I wanted badly for Cinci to make the top 25, but I couldn't justify adding them.

Other than bumping Saturday's winners there isn't too much new blood in my ballot. I just might get the swing award again this week by virtue of Oregon making their way back on the ballot - and the fact that I bumped OK State all the way up to #2. You can call them a champion, and you can call me impressed.

Regarding dropping Alabama down to fit Oklahoma State in at #2 may be questionable to some, but I saw what I needed to see this past weekend to jump not just Bama, but also idle Stanford. 3-6 played themselves out of contention and OK State gets the #2 nod in my book.

I'm vaulting Oklahoma State over Alabama not only on the back of their Big XII Championship run, but by virtue of the BCS system itself.

OK State is good enough to compete in the BCS title game, and they deserve the shot: Big 12 champion vs SEC champion. Alabama's season has been nothing short of remarkable, but they had their shot - at home, and they lost.

I don't want to hear about how close of a game it was - this is 2011, ties were abolished in 1996. The BCS is a system that has placed so much importance on winning that they have again and again changed the time tested rules of the sport to cater to the institution of overtime.  So why are we going to pretend that Alabama did something special by losing to LSU? Under the BCS a loss is a loss, OT or regulation. Personally I think that way of thinking is BS, but that's the situation the BCS put us in.
Alabama didn't win a championship this year, they sat on their couch and watched OSU and LSU go out and achieve their goals. Oklahoma State and LSU earned their way into the title picture while Alabama just kind of hung around.

I don't want to predicate BCS champion with league champion for a couple of reasons. Neither the Big Ten champion nor the Big East champ had a whiff of the BCS title game. Conference champion does not equal BCS championship bid.

My whole point is that if Alabama tied LSU in regulation we would have two undefeated teams prepared to rematch for the title. It wouldn't even be a question 12-0-1 LSU vs 11-0-1 Bama... brilliant.

Who wouldn't want to see that? As it is one of those teams remained undefeated while the other dropped to second place. Why? Because they were tied at the end of 60 minutes? THEN WHY DO WE EVEN HAVE TIES? Every overtime game in history has been a meaningless exhibition, a transplanted inflamed appendix and each OT in turn has been a novel waste of time.

Why do we even have OT? I thought OT was concocted to provide a clear winner for these new-fangled national championship games. Well it's not hard to recall a number of recent seasons that ended in a championship game, yet still gave no clarity to the question of who is #1. And I can live with that. I don't need a clear-cut #1 every single New Year. I appreciate the discussion, debate and argument that follows NCAA football deep into the NFL's January postseason. That is what makes it fun.

Why are we, as fans, so in need of instant Win or Lose gratification that we accept a more muddled overall rankings picture just to see who *would have* won.

Your team ties? fine. Move on and finish your season. Two teams undefeated after bowl season? Split the title, that is great - you can guarantee that college football fans will be talking about who was really better for years.

Anyway, here's my ballot.



SB Nation BlogPoll Top 25 College Football Rankings


The Unbalanced Line Ballot - Week 15

1LSU Tigers--
2Oklahoma St. CowboysArrow_up 5
3Alabama Crimson TideArrow_down -1
4Stanford CardinalArrow_down -1
5USC TrojansArrow_up 3
6Oregon Ducks--
7Arkansas RazorbacksArrow_up 3
8Wisconsin BadgersArrow_up 1
9Boise St. BroncosArrow_up 2
10Virginia Tech HokiesArrow_down -6
11Michigan St. SpartansArrow_down -5
12Michigan WolverinesArrow_up 3
13Clemson TigersArrow_up 7
14Kansas St. WildcatsArrow_up 3
15Houston CougarsArrow_down -10
16South Carolina GamecocksArrow_down -3
17Baylor BearsArrow_down -1
18Southern Miss. Golden EaglesArrow_up 4
19Oklahoma SoonersArrow_down -5
20Georgia BulldogsArrow_down -8
21Nebraska CornhuskersArrow_down -3
22TCU Horned FrogsArrow_down -1
23West Virginia MountaineersArrow_down -4
24Penn St. Nittany Lions--
25Florida St. SeminolesArrow_down -2
Dropouts: Temple Owls
SB Nation BlogPoll College Football Top 25 Rankings »



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