Before we get started– no, I haven’t forgotten about Northern Illinois. Yes, there will be a breakdown, and yes, you will be amazed at how such a seemingly boring game can become so interesting when you take a closer look. Unfortunately for you guys, I actually had the gall to spend Thanksgiving with this “family” thing I’ve been neglecting for a few months. Strangely, I even found it enjoyable, in an interacting-with-real-people-instead-of-the-magic-messages-that-appear-on-my-computer sort of way. It compelled me to seek more of it, and as a result I didn’t feel like writing here. Casting aside the internet for actual, breathing people? How lazy! What is this world coming to? But rest assured, I am ready to leave this “sunlight” I’ve been looking at for the last few days in order to return to soothing glow of the LCD screen on my laptop. In the end, face-to-face conversation just doesn’t measure up to hurling long-distance barbs towards people I don’t know, using a “series of tubes.”

The first order of business is our regular Tuesday look at the bowl situation. With the exception of the conference championship game, the ACC season is done. Instead of clearing up the EagleBank Bowl picture, though, the end of the season has brought more confusion. On the surface it would appear simple: 10 bowl-eligible teams in the ACC, 9 bowl slots available, everyone has a dance partner (except for the kid who picks his nose and smells funny). But no, it just doesn’t work that way. To break it all down:

  • The team we all wanted, Virginia, lost to Virginia Tech and didn’t even become bowl eligible. So they’re out.
  • North Carolina State would be a great pick for the EagleBank Bowl, but they finished 6-6. Bowl eligible, yes, but not until the other teams in the conference with a winning record are selected for bowls of their own. With 9 teams at 7-5 or better to go with 9 ACC bowl slots, that means the Wolfpack will have to look elsewhere.
  • Bowls like teams that travel well and put fans in seats. They pick accordingly. With the last pick among the ACC’s bowls, it stands to reason that the EagleBank Bowl will get one of the teams with a poor reputation for bowl game ticket sales. That would mean Wake Forest, Miami, or Boston College. BC is playing in the ACC championship game, and by rule cannot fall any farther than the Music City Bowl. So they’re out too. Miami couldn’t even sell its half of the tickets when they played in the Fiesta Bowl for the BCS championship. But they’re still a name-brand team that can draw more local interest in a matchup than someone like Wake, so they’ll probably be scooped up, leaving us Wake Forest and the rematch nobody wants. But just as it looked like there was one card left in the Uno game and we’re going to lose, Chet pulls out the Draw Four Wild Card and keeps hope alive. Surprise! There’s a “no-rematch” clause in Navy’s contract with the EagleBank Bowl! That rules out the Deacs, which means that nobody’s left.
  • The EagleBank Bowl’s dream matchup is for Navy to play Maryland. But Maryland ruled out the EagleBank Bowl months ago, stating that the game conflicts with the school’s final exams. Chet obviously thinks that Maryland just doesn’t want to play Navy. (“We have exams that week, too, but we’re going to show up,” Gladchuk said. “Everybody has an excuse why they can’t do this or can’t do that. We’re finding a way to accommodate the bowl’s situation.”) I don’t know how legitimate the whole exam excuse is, and I don’t really care.  If Debbie Yow wants to take her team elsewhere, so be it. Chet’s comments remind me of remarks from Air Force athletic officials when they whined about the end of the Navy-Air Force basketball series a few years ago. There comes a point where one protests too much. So what if they don’t want to play Navy in a bowl game? I don’t want to play them either. It wouldn’t be the first time a team has used the “exams” excuse to avoid playing in a particular bowl game, anyway. A few years ago when TCU said they wouldn’t play in the GMAC Bowl because of exams, Navy fans applauded them for “having their priorities straight” and “remembering what matters.” We saw comments like, “Can you imagine Florida State turning down a bowl game for academic reasons? Good for TCU!” Meanwhile, Florida State is cranking out Rhodes Scholars while Maryland is doing just what TCU did. Maybe the ol’ USNA “we’re the only school that cares about academics” elitism should be toned down a bit. Obviously USNA sets a higher academic standard than other schools, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else just doesn’t care. Plenty of you have expressed reservations about the Army-Navy Game being moved to the same week as exams next year. This is no different. Yow is a backstabbing trainwreck of an athletic director who runs her department with the grace and delicate skill of a trash compactor. I don’t care for Maryland any more than I care for swimmer’s ear, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they didn’t want to play Navy. It also wouldn’t surprise me if things shifted around and they ended up in the game. Either way, sometimes you just have to let it go.

So where does all this leave us? First and foremost it means that we won’t be playing Wake Forest, which is all I really care about. Just how the new mystery opponent will be found, though, is anybody’s guess. Right now there would appear to be two possibilities. Either the ACC can force unwanted teams on its bowl games and send someone like Miami to Washington, or it could cut ties with the EagleBank Bowl for this year and let them go the at-large route. Neither is an appealing option for the conference; either you set one of your members adrift, or you damage the business relationship with your other bowls. I’m sure EagleBank Bowl officials want an ACC team, but with Navy set to bring so many fans the game is probably going to be a success no matter what. We’ll probably find out this weekend.

Anyway, on to the poll. Last week’s poll was about the term, “Middies.” My childhood memories consist mainly of two things: my dog, and hearing Brent Musberger call the Army-Navy Game for ABC. Musberger made almost excessive use of the term, but it wasn’t until I arrived at USNA that I discovered that it was deemed inappropriate by the arbiters of such things. It’s never bothered me, though, and I am pleased to see that it doesn’t bother most of you guys either. To me, “Middies” never felt derogatory. Instead it sort of felt old school; a nickname that recalls the days of Grantland Rice, when the Ivy League ruled college football and when the game’s traditions were in their formative stages. Sure, it isn’t as alpha-male intimidating as if we were called the NAVY GALACTUS DESTROYER OF WORLDSes, but intimidating nicknames are overrated. I do what I’m told and say “Mids” instead, but I don’t give a second thought to someone else saying “Middies.”

In this week’s poll, we’ll talk about Army. It is Army week, after all. The prevailing sentiment towards Army among Navy fans seems to be that most of us root for the Woops in every game but one. It’s understandable. A lot of us have crossed paths with other service academy graduates in our careers, and those are the only people who can really relate to our college experience. “We’re all on the same team” and whatnot. I, however, never really felt compelled to cheer for the other service academies. I can see why others do; I just don’t, and the reaction I get when I say so would make you think that I was rooting for al Qaeda. I guess I’m able to separate the football program from the school and service as a whole, while others don’t. Besides, why would I root for a school like Air Force that embraced a coach that never passed up an opportunity to denigrate Navy, and allows some graduates to do little more than coach football? The whole Alternative Service Option flap really soured me on West Point, too. The country needs the school, but I don’t see what that has to do with cheering for its football team. It’s an opinion that gets me labeled as classless more often than not.

So that brings us to this week’s question. Do you root for the other service academies? And if so, what do you think of those who don’t?


  1. GoalieLax

    sorry, i don’t root for Army or Air Force

    do you think Dook roots for the tarholes every other game of the year? hell no. and you’re right – there are too many people who can’t distinguish the sport from the school

  2. Gary

    I root for Navy in a fanatical ( dream like some may say) way and have no problem with AF or Army unless they play us. I dont root for their failures-yet I do chuckle at times at Armys futility.
    Lately though the loud mouths at Army with their jealous envy of our success has me rooting for them to lose even though I feel that we should root for all academies to do well.
    I have no problem with anyone that says they hate AF or Army- I hear it from many Army fans they “hate” Navy.
    As long as we all HATE ND thats what matters to me.

  3. Moose"95

    On a cold day in 1992 I watched the Army kicker hit a tough field goal late in the game but there was an offensive penalty that negated the field goal and moved them back five yards. For a split second, I felt sorry for the guy and guess what? He hit it again and we LOST! So never again have I rooted for the Army OR Air Force. In fact, I clearly remember a game in 1995 where Army was about to break their long losing streak to ND and the Army receiver was nailed on a great open field tackle at the ND 1 yard line and time expired before Army could line it up to run another play. I laughed out loud and may have had a beer or five to celebrate.

  4. The corollary to this is that I don’t care if other people don’t like Navy, either. At the very least it isn’t part of criteria for how I determine “class.”

  5. Team, Team, Damn Team!

    Well, I for one think you’re classless for reasons other than not rooting for the other service academies, but that’s beside the point. The ONLY reason I root for woops is because my best friend from high school played at the point; otherwise, I wouldn’t give two “S’s” about either one of those school’s football programs. I do root for Air Force to lose every game-I really dislike those guys. . . .

  6. Pete

    I root for Navy and Airforce once we’ve beaten them. (Makes us look better) I feel I probably should pull for Army, but I just can’t get myself to do it.

  7. GoMids

    SA football recruiting is a zero sum proposition — all 3 SAs recruit from the same very limited pool of qualified athletes. When one SA is winning, it increases its odds of drawing the better recruits from the pool at the expense of the other two, and vice versa. Admire the other 2 SAs as national assets? Sure. Have an instant rapport with their grads? Absolutely. Root for their football teams? Nope. I’m a Navy fan, and if another SA’s success might snag a recruit who otherwise might have gone to Navy, that hurts Navy not only against that SA, but in all the other games we play without that recruit. Not an outcome I’d root for. Call me selfish or whatever, but I’ve been enjoying this recent run atop the SA heap, and I’m not about to root for anything that might change that.

  8. football dad dan

    As a kid growing up, we would watch the Army-Navy game just about every year & cheered for Army (my Dad was a career Army Sargent).
    Back when I was a Mid, … and young JO, … “hated” West Point & the AFA … and rooted for their athletic teams to lose everything.
    Since then, … My overall sentiment is to root for Army Football (until the Navy game) –> I do have a younger bro who is a WP grad, … but generally have only cheered on Air Force when they play Notre Dame.
    Sorry for the long response to a somewhat simple poll query.

    BEAT ARMY!!!

  9. Gary

    Man I really envy you guys that were able to get into the Academy and graduate. I know it was tough but I seriously do envy what I was unable to do despite all the hopes and wants but alas not the desire to succeed accordingly in classroom studies.

  10. F.B.

    I cheer for Army whenever they’re not playing Navy. I never cheer for Air Force. It goes well beyond any football program smack-talking.

    While the Army may be “doctrinally challenged,” I actually like almost every Army officer I’ve ever met, regardless of branch. I cannot say the same for Air Force officers. I’ve found the common thread that binds officers from the Army and Navy: blunt honesty. It almost seems as if Air Force officers are trained to stretch the truth beyond believability and take credit for others’ success. As a result Air Force officers not only lack credibility, they actually believe the B.S. they create.

  11. seafox

    GoMids, above stated exactly what I was going to bring up, so I will just reiterate those comments, adding that too much bad blood has been spilled by the other SA’s, such as the Air Force QB a few years back when they had a long winning string going quoted in the paper as saying “Why is this game still being played?” Or more recently Army’s quote that they were going to “break Adam Ballard’s other leg this year.”
    Let them win enough games during the year, that it has more credibility when NAVY wins out on the way to the Commander-In-Chief Trophy.

  12. Section 130

    I’ve always wanted Army to win every game but Navy and, after riding the bus 14 hours for the Navy/USAFA game in Chicago in ’68 hoped Air Force would lose every game they played. My Dad was a career Air Force officer who felt the same way. They’re punks.

  13. BCR9751

    I cheer for Army and legitimately want them to go 11-1 every year. I don’t want to root for AF but feel obligated to since it makes our victory over them look better. That always leads to supreme dismay when they are “others receiving votes” in the polls.

    I absolutely hate Notre Dame with every ounce of my being. I want to see their stadium burn to the ground (empty and with no casualties of course). It was pretty awesome to see Weis taken out earlier this year (since he wasn’t a player whose season would be over).

    I also despise Ohio State which will make next year’s start hard to deal with.

    Beat Army!

  14. Pinhead

    I get mixed emotions every time I watch an Air Force or Army game. On one hand I want them to win because it raises the profile of service academy football. But on the other hand, nothing makes me happier than imagining a bunch of air force grads sitting around crying because they just lost one of their special MWC games. Side note: Has anyone else seen the stupid “Go Army, Go Navy, One team one fight” commercials on the armed forces network. The commercial usually features a USMA grad and a traitor USNA grad at some Joint Command both standing next to each other talking about how they are rooting for both teams. it makes me want to puke.
    Beat Army

  15. 150Punts

    I’ve always believed Army/Navy is a different rivalry than all the others out there and that has translated into a certain amount of rooting for them when they’re not playing us. Call me crazy, but I love this week and I love this game. Do I still turn my nose up when I see those &($^&% gray uniforms in the stadium? Of course, but they are still our brothers on a lot of levels and that’s what separates us from the Dook/UNC, Auburn/Bama folks. I have enough painful memories of 4 losses in a row as a mid to keep my honest, so don’t worry about me going soft and cuddly for the Woops.

    The ASO controversy and random comments from some of their players from time to time doesn’t lessen my respect for the institution/grads.

    Air Force on the other hand….well, nevermind.

  16. GoalieLax

    they show games where Navy loses because the ones where we’ve won haven’t really been classics

    take the 1992 game, Navy leads 24-7 and loses 25-24

    1989 and 2000 were the only games Navy won in the last THIRTY YEARS that were decided by single point margins (and of course the 3-3 tie in 81)

  17. GoalieLax

    yeah, i’m not a fan of watching Navy lose, but i do love checking out the retro looks of the games

    like Navy’s coaches in the shiny sideline jackets, or the absolutely massive shoulder pads everyone is wearing

  18. tman

    Like “Section 130” I too rode the train to Chicago for the N/AF game. Punks then, had huge sense of entitlement. Post game parties no fun as zoomies never tired of stating that now that AF had an academy it brought class to the whole thing. Started going to A/N 1959. Always great fun.
    Cousin USMA 70 grad and footballer. He claims they always were taught that brotherhood key except for Navy week.
    Danang Joint Command. A and N guys got along well. Only AF guys that had any class were the Jolly Green and A-1 rescue pilots.
    Civilian life lived in AF town. Zoomies still hated me and felt superior. Today we hold charity A/N/AF alumni golf tournament. AF does not play nice or mingle.
    Observation: Seems most SA teams need to go through a “dry spell” in order to regain perspective and attitude adjustment towards each. Said most, but really mean A/N. AF seems to still have entitlement attitude. It’s coached into them. Just see how they play other teams too. Same BS.
    Conclusion: Want Army to go 11-1, imperative that AF goes 0-12.

  19. tman

    FYI Helmets: Not only did they have the anchors, one year they had all eligible receivers wear international orange helmets so Roger could see them better! It was outlawed after the game.
    In those days there was always a surprise for the A/N game. N would warm up with normal gear then come out for the game with the surprise. One year it was a Beat on the Right shoulder and Army on Left shoulder so the woops could see it every play.

  20. DJ

    I hate Air Force more than anything and I root against them every chance. My personal experience with their “athlete students” is that they are arrogant, lazy, and unprofessional.

    I respect Army but do not root for them. However, I don’t root for them to be bad either. If a good Navy team is matched up with a bad Army team, there is less to gain with victory and more to lose with a defeat.

    I am also with GoMids: Navy has an easier time recruiting when they are dominating the other SA’s. With the upgrade in facilities and continued success and national exposure, Navy’s CIC dominance is just icing on the recruiting cake.

  21. GoalieLax

    i am envious of your shiny navy jacket

    i still have my Navy Starter-brand pullover from my plebe year….starter…s-s-s-s-s-starter

  22. gonavy81

    I do not root for Army or Air Force. I do follow their progress over the season though – I like for them to do well so we can beat them so much the better. I’d much rather beat a 8 – 3 Army and a 3 – 8 Army.

    But they are, and shall always be, Woops and Zoomies to be generally despised (on the athletic fields).

  23. GoalieLax

    i would rather see army come in at 0-11 and walk out after losing by 50…i could give two you-know-what’s if army ever wins a game of football again

    mutual respect only applies to the academic and military pursuits in my book

  24. EightyFiver

    Moose: The play you refer to (from the ’95 Army-ND game) was a 4th quarter two-point conversion attempt. (Prior to the overtime in college football, a team that scored a late TD was expected to go for 2 in order to avoid the tie; thus Army was going for 2.) Pass was completed to Army TE Ron Leshinski, who was brought down by CB Ivory Covington. The ironic part of all of this was that Leshinski outweighed Covington by about 80 pounds — one of the rare size mismatches in Army’s favor.
    Anyhow, I can’t see how you can take any joy watching the woops lose to the Domers. I just don’t get it.

    I don’t care who else cheers for Navy. But I really hate the pity cheers from other schools. The “you’ve-got-a-pathetic-program-that’s-made-up-of-some-fine-young-men” sentiment really turns my stomach. I really enjoy it when I hear those comments just before we beat the living daylights out of them.

  25. 901458

    GL – I’m glad you mentioned that 1989 game. It was my senior year and my only win over Army as a mid. Navy was up 16-10 going into the 4th quarter late. We had them on 4th and long with little time left – it was obvious what Army is going to do, yet somehow they still beat out defender and hit a T-down pass to go up 17-16. Fortunately we had enough time on the clock to get into Field Goal range and Frank Schenk made the winning field goal.

    I root for Navy only – call me harsh but AF is a generally a bunch of jacka$$ whiners and after the “Break Adam Ballard leg” campaign I stopped rooting for Army.


  26. Greg

    I used to root for both Air Force and Army to go 11-1 but since the advent of the DVR a couple years ago (I attend all Navy CIC games in person, lord-willing) – I’ve now decided that they both play fairly dirty against Navy and have lost a great deal of respect for their programs. I think Fisher used to whine and cry so much they were hard to watch and if you watch the first play of last years Army Navy game you’ll see dirty knee targeting … Go Navy Beat Army by 50+ Kaipo for the first quarter for 4 TD’s – Jarod for the second for 2 TD’s and Ricky for the second half for another 5 TD’s – how ’bout them apples?

  27. Greg

    PS – I dont care about the elitist talk about us USNA people – we have earned a little of that and if you work with 50% Terps you’d want a rematch against MD at all costs just like I do. Move the darn exams, sell out the bowl game and be one of the only bowls to sell all its tickets!

    Go Navy – Beat Maryland

  28. pills91

    MD does have one really big thing to lose by “ducking” the DC Bowl, $$$$. There is no way in sane, rational person after the “Crab” Bowl can say that a MD-Navy game in DC wouldn’t be a sell-out. No travel costs, and, getting credit for all those ticket sales would be a winner for MD.

    I could understand if the choice was either DC or the Champs or Gator, but, it’s not. Most of the ACC bowls stink (Music City, Humanitarian, Peach, Charlotte, Emerald) for one reason or another. If I were a school like MD, and, couldn’t get one of the games in FL, I would think DC would be the next best thing, especially in this economy.

  29. jimbear

    My cousin graduated WP. He asked me back in 1983 if I wanted to join a bunch of friends watching Army-Navy. I never had paid attention to A/N before.Just to bust his stones (and because my grandfather was a marine) I rooted for Navy. I became a big Nap McCallum fan immediately. Since I didn’t have a college team except a lukewarm ND fan (because I’m Irish but Holtz ruined that with the garbage he pulled in 1994 vs ND) I started rooting for the SAs. Navy has been my favorite and I’ve been a big time fan since 1984 . I root for Army and AF (although AFcan be jerks) also. I’m not a SA grad so I don’t really care if others aren’t fans of other SA’s. I can understand how Grads might feel different. I have the same reaction when someone tells me they root for the Yankees and the Mets.

  30. Moose"95

    Eightyfiver, hey thanks for refreshing my memory on that one. I may have had a few beers DURING the game but I do remember seeing that huge Army guy getting absolutely stuck at the goal line and unable to fall backwards into the end zone. Still makes me chuckle. I work with a AFA grad and he lamented to me that AF was the “better” team the last two years but lost due to silly mistakes. I asked him if it kept him from crying into his pillow at night to say things like that. He didn’t talk to me for a few days. Maybe I was a wee bit harsh?

  31. Yanger1994

    Maybe this is taking it to another level – I could care less how Army and Air Force do unless they are playing a team that we played in the same year. In that case I hope they lose.

    Take for example last year, after beating ND then watching Air Force do it made it seem less significant (though I have no idea how snapping a 43 game losing streak could be made less significant).

    Regardless, I actually have more of a fan affiliation to ND over the other SA, but that may be due to my lifelong friends that went there.

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