In news that will surprise nobody, I don’t like Air Force. There are certain corners of the Navy diaspora that take great offense to that; I’m frequently told that I don’t “get it.” We’re all service academies, after all. One team, one fight, right? If you say so. I’ve always felt that was a one-way sentiment on the part of some Navy fans, based more on wishful thinking than anything else. You never saw any Air Force fan upset over Fisher DeBerry taking cheap shots at Army or Navy, did you? Of course not. If you asked them, Navy fans like me were just bitter because Air Force won so many games.

That’s nonsense, of course. Those of us who grew up as Navy fans in the ’80s and ’90s were used to seeing the Mids lose to just about everybody, so there was nothing special about Air Force in that regard. No, this was different. When you talked to people in and around the Navy program, you would hear stories about some of Air Force’s recruiting tactics that really caught you off guard. Fans of every school have stories that they heard from a friend of a friend about how their rival does shady things, so it’s easy to dismiss these things. Besides, Fisher DeBerry’s gone now, so everything’s different, right?

Nope. Thanks to Twitter, we no longer have to rely on rumors and stories to know what Air Force is selling to recruits. During the Army-Navy Game, their coaches put it out there for everyone to see.

That piece of brilliance came courtesy of this guy, Air Force assistant coach (and graduate!) Jake Campbell. The guy whose Twitter page says that Air Force football is “graduating the best society has to offer” while he mocks the guys doing the work that, by his own admission, his guys aren’t willing to do. And there it is, what we’ve always known: Air Force’s recruiting pitch is “come here because it’s easier.” If Campbell’s players are actually drawn to that pitch, then maybe he’s right; for the sake of the country, maybe it is better us than them.

This tweet has a few different implications. Like I said, the pitch is obviously “it’s easier here.” Knowing that’s what Air Force is selling, is there any doubt that their practice of sending graduates straight into coaching is done specifically as a recruiting tool? As a carrot to dangle in front of guys who don’t like the idea of military service? Guys like Brad Padayao, who choose Air Force because:

I want nothing to do with war, and if I’m in the Navy, there’s more chance of that.

Gee, I wonder where he got that idea. Padayao ended up transferring to Eastern Oregon, which brings up another point: this kind of a pitch explains Air Force’s terrible retention. When you sell guys on “don’t worry, you don’t have to do all that military stuff,” what do you think their reaction is going to be when they get to the school and have some upperclass dweeb screaming in their face? Why do you think Air Force doesn’t list freshmen on their roster unless they’re on the depth chart? Two reasons: so recruits can’t see the competition they’ll be facing for playing time, and so everyone else doesn’t see how many players end up leaving the school.

The most damning part of this pitch though is that it’s dishonest. What, does he think that cadets and midshipmen at Army and Navy don’t go into aviation? That’s definitely what he’s trying to sell:

Never mind that both the Army and Navy did fly-bys before the game; I guess he just hopes his audience missed that bit. There’s a reason for that, too.

Campbell knows all about Naval Aviation. He just doesn’t want the kids he’s recruiting to know. It seems sort of ridiculous, but you have to understand that things that are basic military knowledge to you and me aren’t so obvious to high schoolers that are just being exposed to the military for the first time. The problem that Campbell and the rest of the Air Force coaches face is that if they were honest about post-graduate career options, they’d find that they don’t have as much to offer as USNA. In reality, just about anything you can do out of the other service academies, you can do out of the Naval Academy. Want to fly jets? Ok. Helicopters? Fine. Tanks? Infantry? No problem. Special forces? Duh. And then of course there’s the whole ship and submarine thing, which you can’t get anywhere else. If your job is recruiting high school kids that don’t know anything about the military, that’s huge. You can sell them on the value and opportunity of military service, but at USNA they still have four years to learn which military careers appeal to them instead of having their options limited as soon as they pick another school. It’s a tough package to beat.

Campbell’s deception is essentially an admission that he can’t beat it. If there were enough positives to sell about the Air Force Academy, their coaches wouldn’t have to resort to misleading kids about the competition. Do you think they have your best interests in mind if they’re already trying to confuse you? If you were a recruit, is this a guy you’d want to play for? I guess some do, or at least they just don’t know any better.

While that’s the most shameful stuff, there’s plenty of buffoonery to be had in that timeline (although some of it has since been deleted). It’s good to know that our Air Force friend was watching the Poinsettia Bowl, too. And what did he have to say about it? Well, he mocked Keenan Reynolds:

Sort of ridiculous to say that Navy wouldn’t have won 7 games if they were in the Mountain West after they just beat a 7-win Mountain West team (that crushed Air Force, by the way), but whatever.  Obviously it was only because Navy was lucky:

No, wait… It was because San Diego State didn’t have their best receiver:

And man, did you see those Navy uniforms?

Candy canes, get it? Because of red and white stripes! Good one! Can we think of anything else that has red and white stripes that this Air Force coach might want to make fun of?

Maybe the funniest part about all of this is the very idea that there’s an Air Force coach out there live-tweeting Navy games. I guess that’s a product of Navy having so many nationally televised games to choose from. I can’t even imagine the opposite happening. Can you picture a Navy coach pecking away at his keyboard like this during an Air Force game? It’s laughable. This isn’t some message board clown yammering away. It’s a coach! It’s almost too absurd to believe, but then again, it’s Air Force.

If you want to keep rooting for Air Force, that’s your business; but don’t tell me that I don’t “get it,” because the reality is that there’s nothing to get.

43 thoughts on “AND NOW YOU KNOW

  1. JimBear

    This shows how lame the AF program is no matter how many games they win. I really don’t like the Falcons trash talking, cheap shots and chippy play. I’m glad Air Force will never have a venue like the Army-Navy game. They don’t deserve it.

  2. TJ

    And Ramsey says, “I know Coach Campbell, and there’s no way he would say something like that.” Master of word-twisting, that twitter.

  3. tphuey

    AF Major, C-9 pilot with 1000 whole hours of flight time. That means he didn’t fly very much for those of you who aren’t familiar with military careers, types of airplanes, and flight hours. It’s shameful, really.

    1. I’m not going to comment on what he did in the Air Force. That’s way more than some other Air Force coaches. All that matters is what he’s saying now.

    1. slhnavy91

      Anonymous-It is important to note that this isn’t just one guy trash talking. A coach tweeting = a coach recruiting. Period. And this Air Force coach is recruiting with falsehoods, with “we are less military,” and with pure negative recruiting attacking Navy. If that keeps you up on . Air Force go ahead. My field is heavily joint so in the real world I keep the interservice rivalry friendly; plenty of Air Force officers and USAFA grads I admire; a couple of my favorite SEALs are USAFA grads…Falcon football? This is its nature despite Howdy Doody aw-shucks goofiness.

    2. You are exactly right, slh. And coaches don’t go rogue with their recruiting message. It comes from the top. I can only imagine what they say behind closed doors.

  4. 81Zoltan

    Mike, excellent point that Coach Zoomie can only increase the attractiveness off his program by denigrating the other service academies. That does indicate the weakness of his product. I hope he lands every high school player that wouldn’t want to carry a weapon, serve on a ship or submarine or is so ill-informed that they don’t know the other services have pilots and aviators.

  5. Wm T. M, Jr. USNA'66

    The facts bare out the truth about the health of the Air Force Program.

    Poinsetta Bowl attendance 33,077

    Potato Bowl attendance 18,223

    Navy 17 SDSU 16

    Air Force 14 SDSU 30

    If you study the statistics Air Force apparently has an advantage when playing at home at a 6,000 foot elevation. Visiting teams do not have time to adjust to the altitude and apparently have a serious handicap as a result in addition to just the issue of having to play an away game.

    When you look at Air Force’s record when playing at a normal altitude, such as their loss to SDSU they are apparently a mediocre team. That is why they are not a threat to win the Mountain West Conference despite being 10 and 3.

    1. It’s true that Air Force doesn’t travel well to bowls, but I’m not about to go all sour grapes on their season. 10 wins is special no matter how it happens.

  6. John

    Since their run during the 80’s and 90’s, the AF game has been more important to me than Army. Don’t misunderstand, I had a Plebe year, but I just hated to see them dominate the way they did. I’m sure many at Army feel that way about us now but AF’s attitude has always been different. Have to give them credit for the way they rebounded this year though-didn’t see that coming. Man, I hope we start another streak against them in 2015.

  7. Navyrugger

    Bravo Mike. Maybe your best ever. And you are right – the culture of any organization is set from the top. The top of AF football has not changed much from DeBerry to Calhoun. Don’t expect anything to change at all as long as guys like these two are in charge.

    It is unfortunate because AF has a lot to be proud of this year – a tremendous season. They don’t need to be jerkoffs- it is just in their DNA.

  8. Tman

    From the 60’s and “jerkoffs” is most appropriate phrase to perpetually describe zommies in the collective. In 1968 Gen Olds(Vietnam F-4 stud, now Supt.) gets up at a joint dinner downtown after our loss to them in Chicago and proceeds with profanity laced lecture/attack against Navy, midshipman and Academy. I believe he was hammered but I digress. We naturally responded with a fusillade of roles. Kaiser I believe. He charges the audience and thankfully some Commander steps in front of him to try to remind him of his position. With the General’s wrath now focused on the O-5, we made our strategic retreat to the streets of Chicago. Wish I could remember who the brave O-5 was.
    Today: I coach HS lacrosse and a zoomie middle linebackers son plays for me. He is a great guy but totally ignorant about the other Academies. His “facts” about Army and Navy are breathtaking. It is taught that way. So tweet details not too surprising just that he got caught.

    1. Navyreb

      Misleading people about the other services is a cultural current that runs deep throughout the AF not just the football program. I went to their command and staff collage and one of the lines they were big on was that the only purpose of a carrier air wing is to protect the carrier so we shouldn’t have Naval Aviation. They slam the Army for being “tactical” whereas they are “strategic”. On the whole they were real nice people but it was like visiting a creep cult with a bizarre cathechism of lies they were indoctrinating everyone with.

  9. Edgar

    I want to beat Army more than I want to beat Air Force. And of course the Army rivalry is more important for a plethora of reasons (that it crosses ALL sports is just one).

    But here’s how explain my rooting habits to non-grads: I want to beat Army in every sport every year. Nothing matters more. But when Army is playing anyone else–especially in football–I’m actively rooting for Army to win.

    I want to beat Air Force, too. And I’d be tickled if they lost every game. HDMF and his staff are miserable human beings.

    1. i don’t root for army. i respect them, unlike air force, i don’t think their program is trash, like air force’s is. I just don’t want them to do well. because that makes navy doing well that much harder.

  10. akcita

    If you watched how much Head-hunting they were doing in the AF-Navy Game you might understand why one of Fischer DeBerry’s boys is going to do them in.

    I am predicting that they lead the Service Academies in player ejections if they keep the same attitude.

    I suppose “Honor” is just another five-letter word to the current Administration at USAFA…

  11. Anonymous

    The BS’ing of recruits continues. Go on the Zoomie board and read the story about AF commit Nolan Thompson. His recruiting coach was none other than your buddy Jake. Pay particular attention to what the kid thinks his military commitment is and how PREP SCHOOL COUNTS. Wonder who told him that ?

    1. USMC1999

      like Mike said, wow… How long do you think he stays around when he realizes that the prep school time doesn’t count…and I thought it was a 5 year commitment? maybe it is lower than when i was there.

    2. The kid was probably told that he could spend a year of his commitment COACHING at the Prep School after he graduates and gets “combat coach” as his service assignment. Maybe he misunderstood.

      (Doesn’t make the AF pitch any less pathetic.)

  12. jwall93

    This story brought back some memories. When I went on my recruiting trip to USAFA they put all the recruits in the BOQ. It was a pretty nice setup, tucked away in the mountains and I think their golf course was close by as well. I remember being told that the Air Force was the “jet set service” (whatever that means) and that even though my eye sight was bad there was still a way I could fly. Why go be on a ship when you can fly? I don’t know that I saw a plebe…4th degree, whatever…the entire time I was there.

    Navy put us in Bancroft. I stayed in the room of some 1/C who were on weekend. I had been warned about chopping but nobody said anything about chow calls. That was a tough wake up call after a night out in Georgetown. There was also an “academic tour” of the Rickover lab spaces. I remember finding it very impressive, but after comparing notes with other recruits I was in the minority.

    The menfolk in my family join the Corps, so this was never too close a call for me, but I can’t deny that in my 18-year old civilian mind I wavered a bit. AF was far and away the better program at the time and this fantasy that they were marketing to high school seniors was well crafted for kids who were a little apprehensive about joining the military, but wanted to play big time football. That said, times and attitudes change. I don’t know how successful Coach Campbell’s twitter campaign is going to be. If anything it sounds more obnoxious and desperate to my ear than it did 25 years ago.

  13. slhnavy91

    Let me throw another log on the fire here…so coach tweets are recruiting actions, and no individual coach is going off the reservation. In fact, tweets being deleted supports that line of thinking: either on his own or by direction, a few things were identified as over the line and were removed.
    What was off message, you ask? Well, the direct attack on the Poinsettia Bowl BMP. Common courtesy, ad well as common sense – don’t give ’em bulletin board material. Same probably applies for the accompanying #wouldnotwin7inthemountainwest. The PB game day candy canes comment went, but the A-N candy canes stayed…not even that he is hiding that he was live tweeting the Navy game– s or grapes WR comment stayed.
    So what is the APPROVED usafa recruiting tweeting? In addition to the aforementioned “candy canes” comment about two-centuries-old Navy tradition, and sour grapes flagging a conference team that curb stomped Air Force? Looking at Campbell’s and other coaches’ feeds, we find a lot of DeBerry-esque comments about the CiC trophy (ours, back where it belongs, etc). Also, the deception on flybys, and “Yikes, better them than us.” A lot of Ben Garland, so definitely selling ASO and not the typical military commitment. MULTIPLE coaches retweeted a gif of an air force player taunting WMU with a row the boat celebration-I would be worried about a flag on that one, not selling it to America’s high school athletes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s