On a human level, it’s only natural to feel some measure of sympathy for Army after losing to Navy for the last 12 years. Anyone that has ever attempted anything worthwhile has at some point failed to do so and can relate to how that feels. We know the emotion of the game and see images like an inconsolable Trent Steelman last year and can’t helped but be moved. That’s the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, and it’s why people watch sports. However, while I understand Army’s frustration, I’m not sure why I should care about it.

There seems to be a growing subculture of Navy fans that almost feels guilty about the Mids’ success against Army. For the last couple of years I’ve seen a lot of comments on this blog and on Twitter along the lines of “I hope Army gets better soon” or “We need Army to win for the good of the rivalry” or some other similar nonsense. The more Navy wins, the more I see it, and for the life of me I cannot understand it.

Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you people? How can you be so unappreciative of this incredible gift that we’ve been given? We say “Beat Army” from I-day until graduation. We yell it out when we square corners in Bancroft Hall and every time we sing our alma mater. We print it on t-shirts and bumper stickers and on all the weights in Ricketts Hall. Beat Army is a way of life. It isn’t “win our fair share against Army.” Right now we’re in the middle of the greatest stretch of beating Army that we’ve ever seen. That shouldn’t be lamented. It should be proclaimed from mountaintops, and without even the slightest hint of “but.” Trent Steelman isn’t the only player to break down after an Army-Navy game. It’s happened plenty of times on the Navy sideline, too. I never want our players to have to feel that way again. If you have any respect at all for the hard work and sacrifice that they put into this game and the entire season, then you wouldn’t want that either. We celebrate the game as fans, but it isn’t about us. It’s about the guys who worked their asses off all year. Army isn’t entitled to win a few just because it’s always been that way. The victory goes to the team that earns it each year, and I hope Navy wins every game by 50.

Some people try to hide this feeling behind a mask of pragmatism. They might say that we need Army to keep it competitive so TV ratings are high, but that’s just not true anymore. With Navy joining the American Athletic Conference, they will no longer be dependent on Army-Navy television revenue once the current contract expires. Navy’s primary revenue source will be the conference television contract, which will include the Mids’ home games in the rivalry. Some other people say that we need Army to be successful because somehow their struggles have an effect on all the service academies. That’s hogwash; Army has had problems for decades. Besides, the last round of conference realignment should have made it crystal clear that the service academies are most definitely not joined at the hip.

Whenever I have this conversation with someone, their response is usually that I just don’t “get it.” If that’s the case, then I hope I never do. The rivalry is the best in all of sports, but it isn’t more important than our own team’s success. I am a Navy fan. I’ve experienced enough heartbreak to know better than to ever take the thrill of victory for granted. If the Brigade wants to chant “Twelve more years,” I say hell yes and then twelve more.

Beat Army. Forever.

40 thoughts on “BETTER THEM THAN US

  1. I grew up watching Notre Dame defeating Navy year after year after year. I was also at the game in South Bend in 2007 when we finally broke that dubious streak. I know how much joy Army will feel (in at least another 33 more years) when that streak is broken. Let’s not diminish the amount of joy our Whoop brethren will feel (some very long, long time from now) after Army takes over the record for continuos loses in a rivalry game. Not until that record is securely earned by Army will I even begin feel a scintilla of sorry for Army. Until then, I hope Army Football finishes every year with just one loss, and they instinctively sing their alma mater first after every contest with Navy. Go Navy! Beat Army!

  2. Phil D

    Honestly, I could go either way on this one. I actively root for Army in all other games so I would like to see them improve overall. At some point, I think we all know they are going to win and some of the wishes come from friendships with those that either went there or are in the Army and we see how much it pains them to lose year after year. I don’t think the ND comparison is apt because we weren’t ND’s main rival, whereas we are Army’s. Now, if we were talking about a 12 year streak to Air Force, that’s the one I’d like to go on for 50 years.

  3. EightyFiver

    Don Criqui and Allen Pinkett do ND games on the radio in Chicago. I hated Pinkett as a player; he’s awful on the radio. Nonetheless, if I’m in my car on a fall Saturday, I’ll sometimes listen.

    A couple of weeks before the 2007 Navy-ND game, I listened to their broadcast of ND’s loss to USC, At the end, Criqui said that a lot of ND fans wanted to see Navy win the upcoming game. Pinkett gave an interesting reaction. First, he said that he hoped ND never lost to Navy—he hoped to watch ND trounce Navy every year until he died. Second, he said that Navy did not want anyone’s pity.

    I thought about Pinkett a couple of weeks later on my drive home from South Bend, after the 3OT game. I hoped he was miserable.

    I can’t speak for Army, but I don’t think they want anyone’s pity.

    1. kinghalltatertots

      Agreed. I was glad that Coach Ken kept running the ball down Army’s throat at the end of the game, not to ‘turn the knife’ anymore but to show the oppononent the respect of a full games effort. Nothing is worse that having the bench cleared on you or having the other team just trying to wrap thing ups. The Cadets didn’t quit and i’m glad Navy didn’t either (irrespective of the score).

    2. That’s a good point. I’ve read comments from both Army and Navy media that found the last TD to be questionable, but I disagree. Obviously there’s Keenan’s school record, but there’s more to it than that. Army-Navy is the last football game some of these guys will ever play. If you were an Army senior, how would you want to go out? With a whimper as Navy takes a knee? Or do you want a chance to make one more play? The chance to say, “yeah, he was trying for a school record, but I stopped him cold in the backfield.” If I was playing in the last game of my life, I’d want to go out swinging regardless of the score. I know that some people will look at that last drive and feel otherwise, but this game is different.

  4. BandL89

    Well said, Mike. We have something special going with Navy football, built on exceptional leadership and hard work. Let’s respect Army and beat them on the field forever!

    1. It caught me off guard. I didn’t really like it at the time, but I’m not bent out of shape over it. I’ve felt for a long time that the relationship between Niumat and Ellerson wasn’t as buddy-buddy as it gets portrayed. I always thought that Ellerson went out of his way at times to trivialize the work that Niumat has done in building the Navy program. Not sure if that was part of the motivation or if it was just the record. Either way I’m progressing toward indifference.

  5. 92 Grad!

    Even as an Army fan, I couldn’t agree with you more! In 1991, I remember thinking “touch sh*t, Navy”. We shouldn’t need or want sympathy or pity because our program sucks. We are sending graduates into the Army and usually straight to wars. Who needs pity?

    I hope the new coach turns things around and makes the games competitive. Shoot – I hope we win 25 or more straight! But until that happens, I hope Navy fans rub it in and enjoy the beatings! It is the way it works.

    Beat Navy!

  6. kinghalltatertots

    Army is a grease-fire right now, a la Navy at the end of the Charlie Weatherby Era (which I witnessed first hand as a plebe, losing 11 bets to my upper class that year). I just don’t think there will be a service academy parody until West Point strikes gold with a ‘Paul Johnson’ (Great American!) or they come to their senses and restructure their whole Athletic Framework (football is not the only sport where we make them cry!).

    I’m with Mike, 12 more and 12 more after that! Although some of our younger grads are a bit ratey and probably don’t quite fully appreciate the treasure of a sound ‘woop’ing (that would be the only silver lining I would see in any future loss).

    Thanks for another great season of commentary Mike. Merry Christmas!

  7. James Stewart

    Great article Mike! Navy is not only winning but they are winning with class. Army is not only losing, they are becoming unhinged. Three personal fouls during the game and numerous times the Army player was holding onto Keenan’s legs long after the play. I hope we never lose to Army again during my lifetime. Go Navy!

  8. Edgar

    I’m completely with Mike. I want to beat Army every year. I’ve hosted friends at my house for an Army Navy Game party each of the past two years. Inevitably, a guest asks, “Don’t you kind of feel bad for the Army players?” or “Don’t you kind of want Army to win one every once in a while?” And my answers are always, “No. Not even the slightest bit. I didn’t make any of those players go to West Point.”

    The one time each year I actually root for Army is when they’re playing Air Force. My reasoning is two-fold: 1. I always want Air Force to lose. and 2. When Navy beats Army, I want the CIC trophy to be on the line. That makes the Navy victory (and Army defeat) all the more sweet.

  9. DJ

    I don’t want this streak to be over and I don’t want this game to be close. I do not feel guilty. They could have hired Paul Johnson. They could have stolen Kenny. They could have joined a conference. They could have gone to Goodpasture Christian and scouted Keenan. They chose to do none of these things. However, I would like to see Army not be a grease fire. I would like to see Army beat Air Force. I would like to see the cadets hold their head high after games not played in December. I would even be okay with Army going to the occasional pre-Christmas bowl game.

    But given the chose between the streak ending and a grease fire, I will take the grease fire every time.

  10. Witt94

    It wasn’t all that long ago in the 90s when Army tended to be fielding a better team than Navy that I remember stories/commentaries that the kind of kids who can play football & want to join the military are more likely to go to Army than Navy. Neither of us were getting the best from the pool of SA recruits.

    But for some reason lots of people were saying that mentality of guys who are good at football fit the mentality of the Army better than the Navy. Football players don’t want to go out onto ships, “warrior ethos”, & all that. Don’t think that’s proven to be such a factor

    I don’t ever want the streak to end, but if/when it does I just hope that it is because Army got better and not that Navy sinks back down to those dark days of years past.

  11. Section 130

    I bought a ticket for 60 minutes of football. That’s what I saw. Neither team quit. And Navy kicked their butts. I want both teams to remember that.

  12. In my fantasy world, 11-0 Navy beats 11-0 Army every year until Jesus returns. In a slightly less perfect world I’ll settle for beating Army every single year as long as football continues to be played.

  13. FNB

    Seriously? I won’t even get into the misrespresentation of Army’s behavoir. I’ll let the article stand on it’s own.

    Mike, I was skeptical about your respect comment a few months back, but the more I listen, the more I see and remember crap like this.

    I also remember a bunch of comments after they won THREE in a row in the ’90s.

    The can print this out and use it to dry their tears for the next hundred and 12 years for all I care.

    Beat Army. Again.

    1. That’s pretty typical. Mostly the same recycled cliches. The weird obsession with Navy seems to be a cultural thing. I never saw it reciprocated at USNA. Maybe it’s different now.

      The funny thing is that I watched the march-on and I didn’t think Army looked all that great this year.

    2. Navy92

      I agree. Their hat trick looked terrible and they don’t have the disadvantage of white covers against black suits.

      I’ve always thought we should change our routine to eliminate the hat trick because it’s just impossible to make look sharp when it’s not gray on gray.

    3. Navy72

      Read link. Tried to take it seriously, but couldn’t. Clearly, some sort of cerebral dysfunction takes hold after 12 consecutive losses. Psychoanalysts, psychiatrists,psychotherapists – all useless.

      Life’s tough. Fate’s fickle. Navy’s winning. I have no regrets, no pity. Deal with it.

    4. tom

      our hat tricks suck. back in the day, we did great hat tricks spelling out our message. my class 1968, was one of the last to really try. we spent many extra hours on faragutt field practicing at o dark thirty.
      Today they cant even doff their hats at the same time. it is pathetic. must be the internet age… reality is SO HARD

  14. NavyCoop

    Come on you guys! How can any one feel sorry for Army? We’ve seen the other side of their faces. If you’ve ever played against them you know. You can call a penalty on every play against Army. Don’t give them a chance for any life. Even this year you saw them standing over our back after a tackle and taunting.

  15. Replace guilt with empathy and you will be closer to the mark. Before 3 knee surgeries I was on some terrible Navy teams in the early 90’s (thanks Chaump.) The Army players were just like me, recruited by Academies and Ivies. I remember losing to Bowling Green by 20+ so I can see myself in the faces of the Army team. Yes better them than us and I want the streak to continue but their experiences are very close to mine. In this age where “student athlete” is a complete farce, I will pull for my brothers in arms except when they play Navy

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