My father is a USNA grad, class of ’74. He was a career Naval officer. Not surprisingly, part of that career was a tour spent in the Pentagon. Two tours, actually. The first came when I was in 4th & 5th grade, and the second when I was in high school. We lived in a cool little neighborhood in Arlington, in the same house both times. This was during the heyday of Joe Gibbs and the Redskins, with Art Monk, Gary Clark, the Hogs, Ernest Byner, and Super Bowls. The Skins were still playing in RFK Stadium back then. RFK was one of the smallest stadiums in the league at the time, and coupled with such a good team it made for one tough ticket. Those rare occasions where my father was able to snag some tickets– usually through a season ticket holder at work who couldn’t make the game that weekend– were a real treat. We’d park at the Virginia Square Metro station and hop on the Orange Line, joined by thousands of other fans packing the train. After a ride that felt a lot longer than it probably was, we’d get off the train, take the escalator up to the street, and start walking towards the Armory. Turn right once you got past the Armory, and there it was– RFK in all its glory. It probably isn’t the same sight that it used to be, much in the same way that old houses you lived in as a kid seem a lot smaller when you visit them as an adult. But as a kid at the time, everything about a trip to RFK said “big-time.”

The feeling didn’t end when you got inside, either. It only sat 55,000 or so, but it sounded a whole lot louder thanks to the overhang circling the stadium that reflected sound back onto the field. You could feel the seats move. Then you started pointing out all the things you’d notice when you watched a game on TV; the iconic end zone paint, the names on the Hall of Stars, the players warming up, the “BASEBALL IN D.C.” sign. Our seats were always in the corner of the end zone, but we didn’t care. Being there was enough, and the place was small enough that you never felt too far removed from the action anyway. It was paradise.

There probably won’t be quite the same atmosphere for the inaugural EagleBank Bowl on Saturday. The stadium won’t be as full, and the wide-eyed exuberance of childhood has left me… sort of. But man, I can’t wait to walk into RFK for a football game one more time. I’ve been back for baseball exhibition games and DC United, but football– Navy football– is just a whole different experience.

Anyway, if familiarity breeds contempt, then Navy and Wake Forest are going to pretty much hate each other by the end of the weekend. I have no idea what to say about Wake Forest that I haven’t said already. I did take another look at the last time we played Wake before I left, to see if they did anything different in the second half of last year’s game to shut down Navy’s offense. The answer is… not really. One thing that Wake does really well is vary how they line up. More than any other team on the schedule, Wake will show 4, 5, and sometimes 6-man fronts all within a few plays of each other. With Kaipo in the game, it was no big deal. With Jarod in the game, it was a little more significant. Actually, Jarod played OK for the majority of plays in the second half. But it only takes one mistake to put the offense in a 3rd & long. That, plus an incomplete pass and a well-timed corner blitz.

(Sorry for the lack of visual evidence to back this up. Maybe if I was typing this at home instead of at a Starbucks in Falls Church…)

Anyway, I’m optimistic about the game. I don’t want to say that Navy matches up well with an ACC team that features award-winning defensive talent… But beating Wake this season wasn’t a fluke. A lot has been made about Riley Skinner’s bad day the first time around, but Coach Green’s scheme had a lot to do with it.

Not much of a post, I know, but I’m hungry and off to grab some pizza at Joe’s on Lee Highway. Best pizza in Arlington, n00bs! After that, I’ll head out to Annapolis for the afternoon. Any of you Birddogs at the game can find me in the crusty Uzelac-era Starter jacket in section 522. Beat Wake.


  1. football dad dan

    Then your Dad was one of my Firsties (Plebe year) … but don’t recall getting “braced up” by anyone named Mid’n 1/c James … and God gave me a great memory for those trivial type things.

    Go NAVY … Beat WF!!!

  2. jimbear

    Enjoy the game Mike. I wanted to make the trip from Jersey but Mrs ‘Bear” is pregnant and not too keen on
    sitting in a freezing stadium while suffering from morning sickness.
    Go Navy Beat Wake

  3. Phil

    jimbear, i hear ya on that one! and thus, i will be also missing the game. have fun all, i want to see the seats shaking. beat wake! again!

  4. Peter

    Agree on all points…excellent…post…c’ept Mike…for “Pie”…and in Arlington…try the Italian Store on 3123 Lee Hwy. Talk about “crusty”…simply the best….GOUGE! Bring a “Capri Sub” (only on hard roll w/the works) to the game. You’ll never go anywhere locally without one. I am gonna check you and your jacket out w/Std Issue 7×50’s from below.

  5. El Cid '85

    RFK was a dump. Bird shit everywhere. The consession stands were natsy and the food was nearly inedible. The workers were rude and didnt seem to care. I hope Navy never plays there again. The whole Bowl game seemed second rate. RFK made it the worst experience I have been involved in at Navy.

    As for the game itself. Tough loss but I am proud of this team, They never seem to give up. Especially, R King…enough said.

    GO NAVY!!! BEAT Ohio State.
    It will be El Cid ’85 v. my Dad (OSU 66)
    We should of beat them in “81 Liberty Bowl

  6. Gary

    That was a horrible poorly attended Bowl game (not from Navy fans though)- 28,000 attendance. Yes weather a big factor too.
    Th place was empty and no noise factor anywhere- seemed like what it was made to be “a toss out early Bowl game”. It was a low level second rate surely low rated soon to be doomed Bowl game-nothing made it appear special.
    Horrible announcers that didnt care and no analysis at halftime about the game- more interested in anything else.
    They were pro Wake the entire game from what I heard-many non penalties against Wake-holding all day and block in back not called- that KO return was another screw job and WTF was the deal with not getting that extra point done when we lost that TD fumble recovery?
    I thought refs held ball a few seconds to hold off that kick-for replay call- was that my anger not seeing something-it took forever?
    Where was JB?
    Totally unfair the kid got zero snaps last 2 games of his career- whats up with that? It was obvious a change in second half at QB was needed-something to change Wake D attitude.
    I am numb from 3 straight close Bowl losses myself and couldnt bring myself to get overly upset at same old ending.
    Sorry but warm weather Bowls are “rewards” not these made up games.

  7. Astor

    What about that interview with Napoleum McCallum? OMG. Interview started off interestingly enough….”and you are?” lol. That was embarassing. Might have been the worst interview I’ve ever seen. I agree though…the stadium was terrible and to me it had the feel of an exhibition game.

    And re JB…why should he get snaps? They were trying to win, so Mot put in the players with whom he thought he had the best chance of winning. And as far as I know, Dobbs was the second string qb…so he should have got more reps when Kaipo was faltering.

  8. Gary

    Those losers would not have recognized Roger Staubach for Gods sake!
    Ok so JB voted by his teammates team captain and who helped bring them to victory in the last Wake game was not worthy of snaps?
    Well back to Army game that was a joke and he could have got a half in there for that one.
    This one ? The game was calling for a change of pace and well now all I can say is JB chapter now officially closed.
    There was some hope when Dobbs looked like he was going in -what happened to change that?
    This also closes the Kaipo chapter who did some great things but lets hope Coach develops a backup behind Dobbs who will get the chance to play of warranted.

  9. DJ

    I am sure Mike will break it down, but I thought the blocking all day was very poor. I don’t think you can put that on Kaipo. Wake was in our backfield all day, and I thought only the great speed and toughness of Shun kept us in this ballgame. JB was the 3rd string QB and had no business taking snaps. Let’s face it: our line and blocking has been below par all year and we had a small margin for error. A costly turnover (Kaipo’s pick) and the inability to stop Wake on several 3rd and longs lost this game.

    Great to see R. King come back and make a big play. My heart goes out to the kid. And congrats to the seniors. This was a frustrating season, but this class went 8-0 against the SA’s, went to 4 bowl games, and by all accounts, they seem like a group of good kids who will make fine officers.

  10. GoMids

    Re JB snaps — why is there an obligation to get him in there? If you’re supposed to be in, you’ll be put in.

    He did get snaps, and the result wasn’t very good. Couple key plays where he failed to block anybody and the play got blown up. I hope Mike does some tape for the benefit of the let’s-get JB-in-the-game lobby.

    Yeah WF is better and has great players on D and blah blah, but the blocking was abysmal. Kaipo was uncharacteristically pissed off afterward, see Wags article, and he should have been.

  11. Salty Sam98

    GoMids. I totally agree. This isn’t a sentimentality contest for JB. Who cares about JB getting snaps? He’s the #3 QB on the team.

  12. Russ

    Completely agree with previous comments re the miserable stadium conditions at RFK. Even ticket pricing sucked–seats that turned out to be low and on the 20 are “VIP” seats and cost $100??! Never again will I go to that stadium.

    No problem with JB not getting in at QB in the Bowl, but no excuse for not having given him a few series in his last Army game. On the other hand, Dobbs should have been in there for at least the better part of the last quarter in the Bowl. That change couldn’t have hurt us.

    Re Kaipo’s tantrum after the game– blocking may have broken down, but that’s no reason for him to go public with the blame. If he had time to see Shinego wide open on that play near the end of the 1st half, he had time to throw at least in that general direction. Results couldn’t have been any worse than they turned out to be. And on the 2-point conversion attempt, he hit the defender dead on the numbers, but I guess that was someone else’s fault as well. He accepted no responsibility at all for that loss, but I think he was a big part of it despite his great ground game.

  13. Gary

    After further thought I agree the JB stuff was pointless and not a matter at all. I just always seemed to recall sneiors always getting their last snaps-shots.
    If Kaipo was throwing stones at anyone after the game he should look into his own house.
    I only saw him walking off with Wake players arm around him so dont know the details there.
    I did think Wake was extra chippy and had some major tudes and were nasty on almost every “after” play.

  14. DJ

    Re Kaipo: I was very disappointed to see him throw a temper tantrum and then throw his teammates under the bus. Feel free to complain about the weather, the officials, the stadium, and even USNA, but don’t complain about your “brothers” who have been working their tails off nonstop since the beginning of August. I have always enjoyed Kaipo’s enthusiasm, but unless guys were dogging it, his actions were uncalled for. Win as a team, lose as a team.

  15. rob a

    i read what kaipo said. i was very surprised by it. he never acts that way. he was wrong for what he did. thats not how this team acts. he’s better than that. i think it was a season long build up. he was supposed to do great things and he stayed in jured all year. he knew that they were only 30 minutes away from a big bowl. i’m sure he blames himself for some bad choices during the game. he just let it out in a way that points the finger at others. i was disappointed in his words. but i think he’s probably just as disappointed in himself. he made some bad reads in the running game, threw a terrible pass that was intercepted(when they had a guy wide open), and didnt do a very good job leading the team the way he’s been known to do. he let his emotions get the best of him and he showed that with his post game comments. he was mad and said some dumb things. it’s one reason i support NOT letting college athletes talk to the media after games. still, there’s no excuse for it. sure, the blocking was terrible throughout the season not just the bowl game. but you dont call out your teammates publicly like that, especially since he screwed up many times himself. he was pissed off. once he calms down, i’m sure he’ll apologize to the team. i have faith that he realizes what he did was wrong and will do the right thing. considering everything that went on this year, i believe it was a good year and gave many players an opportunity to learn what it takes to compete on a high level. i agree with the jb comments. from a coaching standpoint, he didnt need to go in the game at qb. i didnt notice he had gone in at slot. but from what i read he didnt exactly do anything at slot either. i do agree that dobbs should’ve seen more playing time in the 2nd half, not just the 4th quarter. i think kaipo needed to be benched, if for no other reason than he needed to calm down, take a step back, and get his mind right. but, the game is over. they couldnt make the plays needed to win. it’s a team effort and the TEAM lost. cant put this specifically on the coaches, quarterback, line, the entire defense, or the slots. as a team they didnt do what it took to win. and wake forest played a good game. i do think they were a little “chippy” but i would be to if my team was a heavy favorite earlier in the season and turned the ball over 6 times and lost. they were out to prove a point. they did go a little too far at times, but the were a team on a mission.

  16. Gary

    They were ready to self destruct if we had got to the line in time for the extra point to eliminate that review after the 2nd TD fumble recovery- Groebe was ready to cry when that happened and they got the escape at that point.
    As for his comments etc…its not like we are all so perfect and have not blown some steam off from time to time- even in sports its gonna happen- should not tarnish him in any way.
    Count it as frustration and disappointment of the moment- lets face it the last 3 Bowl losses have been maddening to all of us since we should have won all of them- to come so close.

  17. pills91

    It’s not like Kaipo held a press conference. He also didn’t name names. Hopefully, he was including himself in that assessment because he had a horrible game throwing the ball.

    Anyway, it was another fine season. Would have loved to see what would have happened if Kaipo had been healthy all year. Our D is relatively young, and, hopefully, our O-line will improve next year.

    Now on to BBall.

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