I thought this video on how tomorrow’s Navy game balls were made was kind of cool:
I’m not sure if it’s more amusing or annoying to see old Paul Johnson stories get recycled now that he’s at Georgia Tech. It’s amusing because there are a lot of funny Paul Johnson stories, and I like hearing them. It’s annoying because we’ve heard them for years, but for some reason they only matter to people now that he’s at Georgia Tech.
Navy fans, or at least the ones that read this blog, were already aware of the story of Notre Dame defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder and his brief, not-so-illustrious tenure at Georgia Southern. He made some comment about bringing Georgia Southern “into the 21st century,” Paul Johnson took it as a shot at his offense (it probably was), and four years later Navy and Georgia Southern were playing each other long after both coaches had moved on. Johnson getting mad at other coaches talking about his offense was one of the most fun things about him, although I think the media was laying it on a bit thick when playing up the rivalry between the two prior to the Yellow Jackets’ trip to South Bend last month. Still, after Notre Dame won the game and held Georgia Tech to 218 rushing yards, VanGorder was declared the winner of the spat, and a new blueprint for defending the spread option was born.
Keenan Reynolds ran for 183 yards and Chris Swain ran for two touchdowns as Navy overcame the elements to top Air Force, 33-11. The 22-point margin of victory was Navy’s largest over the Falcons since 1978 and moved Navy to 4-0, while Air Force fell to 2-2.
I’m not usually a big fan of “revenge” or “redemption” storylines when it comes to football games. What exactly are you getting revenge for? Were you wronged? Isn’t the other team supposed to try to beat you? It rarely makes sense, although I’ll make an exception for this game for a couple of reasons.
Fisher DeBerry’s tenure as Air Force’s head coach did not end well. The Falcons finished with a losing record in each of his last three seasons, including a 2-7 stretch over his last nine games. Troy Calhoun took over in 2007 and gave the program an immediate jolt, winning nine games that year and again in 2010. It was an impressive run, and Calhoun deserved credit for turning around a sliding program. Some of the praise he received was a bit over-the-top, though, reaching the point where media speculation even had Calhoun as a candidate for the Denver Broncos’ head coaching job.
It wouldn’t last. Air Force fell to 7-6 in 2011 and 6-7 in 2012, and people began to notice. The wheels completely fell off the wagon in 2013, when Air Force suffered the worst season in program history at 2-10. It led to some changes, including Calhoun shaking up his staff. After rebounding with a 10-win season in 2014, I think it’s safe to say that the changes worked.
The Capital is reporting that bidding is set to begin for future Army-Navy games:
Details of the request for bids are still being worked out. But cities may have the chance to bid on seven years of the Army-Navy game, about 2018 to 2025, Gladchuk said.
Bids to host the game were last sought in 2009, when Baltimore, Washington, and Philadelphia were selected over 15 competing cities. Twelve cities made bids to host in 2003, including Seattle, Houston, San Antonio, Chicago, and three bids from Florida.
I found a couple of quotes in the story to be interesting:
Gladchuk told the Naval Academy’s Board of Visitors that organizers of “America’s game” will request bids in December from cities.
“It’d be great to have the game in a few more (cities),” he said.
“People are interested in it, very much so. We want to make sure it’s in different stadiums around the country,” said Boo Corrigan, Army’s director of athletics.
Bids have come from all over the country in the past, but the logistics of moving the game to a less traditional location have been prohibitive. The cost of moving both the Brigade of Midshipmen and the Corps of Cadets would be enormous, and now that the game is played a week later, it falls right in the middle of final exams. It appears, though, that both sides are willing to entertain ways to make it work.
Well, maybe. One of the benefits of entertaining 15 bids is that the competition forces everyone to make their best possible offer. If potential bidders see that the same few cities are awarded the game every time, the bids will stop coming. It’s in both Army and Navy’s best interest to keep these cities motivated to submit bids, and one could argue that these comments are only meant to serve those ends.
On the other hand, there might be something to them this time, especially in Navy’s case. The Midshipmen, now that they are members of the American Athletic Conference, are locked into more or less the same schedule every year. As an independent they played everywhere from Detroit to Honolulu, but their ability to do so is limited now. Moving high-profile neutral site games is one way to maintain Navy’s coast-to-coast tradition. Navy has already announced future Notre Dame games to be played in Jacksonville and San Diego. Moving the Army game isn’t without precedent either, as the game was played in Pasadena in 1983.
There’s a balancing act to consider here as well. Is it more beneficial to move around the country, or is it better for the game’s brand to have it linked to one city? I think there are advantages to the game having a traditional home like Philadelphia, but at the same time you don’t want the city to take our showcase for granted (like, say, by putting it in a dilapidated stadium with railings held up with duct tape, or by scheduling cardiologist conventions at the same time). I wouldn’t be surprised to see a combination of both. While I prefer Philadelphia as the game’s natural home, Baltimore goes all-out for Army-Navy and has been a tremendous host. And wouldn’t it be fun to see the game return to Chicago for the 100th anniversary of the original “Game of the Century?”
Ratings for the game are on the rise, so hopefully the same can be said about interest in hosting it.
Navy hit the road on Saturday, playing their first game of the season away from the friendly confines of Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The venue was new, but the result was not, as the Mids walked away with a 28-18 win over UConn. The Mids ran for 303 yards against a strong defense, led by Keenan Reynolds, who continued his assault on the record books by running for 142 yards and three touchdowns. The win moves Navy to 3-0, including a 2-0 record in the American Athletic Conference.