Troy Calhoun Is Bad for Service Academy Football and Needs to Go

Air Force opened their season with a 63-7 win over Morgan State. The following day, head coach Troy Calhoun said this:

As with most things that Calhoun says on Twitter, it was somewhat random. His reaction to a season-opening win was to warn against moving a home game to a neutral site? That’s out of left field, even for Calhoun.

As it turns out, it wasn’t random. It was a passive-aggressive response to something that was in the works, and last week we found out what that something was.

Given Calhoun’s past comments on the subject, it’s only natural to follow up by asking him what he thought about playing New Mexico in Dallas. Obviously, he wasn’t going to be happy about it, and we can all sympathize with having to go along with things we disagree with. Most of us would say something like, “well I don’t like it but it’s not my call” or some other variation on that theme. Even a terse “no comment” would get the point across. This is what normal people do. It is not what Troy Calhoun does.

Calhoun tries to project a certain “Howdy Doody” image.  With the advent of blogs and Twitter, it has become habitual for some writers to amplify the personalities of college football coaches to the point of caricature. Les Miles is crazy, Jim Harbaugh is weird, Steve Spurrier hates everyone, etc. Don’t fall into that trap with Calhoun. The image he projects is calculated and intentional. He calls everyone “sir” or “ma’am.” He says “golly” a lot. He never misses an opportunity to turn a simple question into something unnecessarily complicated, talking about the First Amendment or the Soviet Union or whatever other piece of faux intellectualism will make him look like the smartest man in the room.

He does this as a diversion. Who could ever question such a smart guy who’s so polite? If he doesn’t want face the media after a tough loss because of “academics,” well that’s obviously him having his priorities straight and not him dodging tough questions, right? Calhoun regularly restricts access to his program, but nobody bothers to look into why because they figure there’s no story there, what with wholesome all-American Howdy Doody in charge.

Another favorite Calhoun tactic along those lines is to relate anything, no matter how absurd, to military service. He is an Air Force Academy graduate, after all. So when asked about the game being moved to the Cotton Bowl, he had this to say:

That’s not for a coach to comment on. It’s just like it would be if you were lieutenant colonel and you’re on your seventh deployment in Vietnam and you see some things. You see there’s no way democracy is going to gain traction here and maybe you’ve lost some of your own troops and some of your own men in battle, but yet that’s not your call…

No, playing New Mexico in Dallas is not “just like” a seventh deployment to Vietnam after losing some of your own men in battle. The comment is as insulting as it is cynical.

It is well past time for the world to stop taking Troy Calhoun at face value. He talks of Vietnam as if it’s something he can relate to, but the majority of his time on active duty was spent in Colorado Springs as a football coach. While he pretends to be able to sympathize with how hard his hypothetical colonel had it in Vietnam, his staff sells his school to recruits by talking about how much easier it is. With a straight face, he says that service academy athletes should be able to redshirt for the good of the service. He makes the same ridiculous argument in favor of service academy athletes turning pro. He is insubordinate and undermines the efforts of his athletic directors. His insistence on playing Notre Dame in Colorado Springs instead of moving the game to Denver cost the Air Force athletic department $1.5 million. That’s $1.5 million for a cash-strapped athletic department that’s already taking in over $30 million in subsidies. People lost their jobs over the lack of funding, including coaches from the same programs whose problems competing in the Mountain West were described by Calhoun as “a big bunch of crock.”

He is a fake, and I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone can buy his shtick.

Once in a while, Calhoun’s name pops up as a potential candidate for jobs at bigger programs. If only we were so lucky. Sadly, I think he knows that his act wouldn’t fly at a program that receives any real scrutiny. That is a shame. He is the embodiment of everything that critics of service academy football fear, and we will all be better off the moment he leaves.

33 thoughts on “Troy Calhoun Is Bad for Service Academy Football and Needs to Go

  1. Sermon '99

    Seldom have truer words been spoken. I will add to it by saying that he is simply the natural outcome of a Fisher Deberry trained player taking the helm….arrogant, fake, and arrogant

  2. Anonymous

    Troy Calhoun passed into Kookville a long time ago in my book. I appreciate your comments on caricature but to me his ideas are just plain kooky. So he has a chance to play in Texas at the Cotton Bowl. Big plus for the program. New recruits; high publicity; recruiting bonus. But no……. to him its all about not playing in that crappy stadium in Colorado Springs. That’s just Kookville in my book. He should be thrilled. Navy wanted to be in the West just to be able to recruit there.
    My only question is how Knowlton is going to handle him. In my book Mueh was fast approaching the kook level of Calhoun. I know he was tied to the IG report but he did retire in January just a month after that whole MWC-AAC kerfuffle on Army Navy. It made the whole MWC look bad!

    1. I disagree with some of this. If I was in Calhoun’s position, I probably wouldn’t want to lose a home game either. Whether he likes it or not is beside the point though.

  3. ed straw

    Mike–you are spot on. This guy is a phony from his terrible haircut to his lack of respect for the military. His Vietnam analogy makes me want to throw up. Nothing made me happier than to crush him on October 3rd. ES

  4. GoMids

    Spot on. Main thing with TC, and AF football in general, is they front the service academy image but it’s complete BS. Then when TC acts like a dbag, or when AF pulls some s*&%, it makes ALL service academies look bad. Even now when you watch AF on TV and they start with the cheap shots, trash talk and personal fouls, the announcer will tsk-tsk and say “oh that’s not what we expect from a service academy team.” And it isn’t, but it’s TOTALLY in character for AF. When the Wyo coach went on his HDMF rant, he was speaking for a lot of people who’ve caught on that HDMF is a complete phony, and AF is the dirtiest team on the schedule.

    1. GoMids

      Couldn’t find The Rant on youtube either, I’d really like to see it again. It was really too bad Christensen got in trouble for that, I loved it as did many others no doubt.

  5. Remember when Jim Rome responded to a ND DC after we won who said we play dirty? In his most sarcastic voice he said something like “yeah, when I think of Navy all I can think of is going for knees and ending careers.” Air Force threatens that goodwill as does our personal foul and targeting penalties to date, though air force already worked through any plausible deniability a long time ago.

    1. Sorry, i meant air force’s Personal Fouls and Targeting. Of course,Navy’s targeting offenses would be non-starters without Air Force lighting up the penalty flags. Just worry about the Academy good will being squandered in the eye’s of people that only care about Army/Navy character and just check in for the Army/Navy game. I think this is what Mike means, but Air Force can hurt the Army Navy Game by being the D-Bags they are.

  6. FNB

    Mike, I’m not an HDMF fan…I think he’s, well, all this.

    The finance issue was my first though since nutral sight game is one of the ways Chet keeps our programs running. I didn’t know about the layoffs in their program, but i’m guessing that the reduced staffing didn’t come from the Football staff.

    We can complain that he’s bad for SA football, but what to their alumni think? If they eat this stuff up (his DNA has USAFA stamped all over it as a Deberry acolyte.) Then they will always wax poetic about his fit and how he gets it (Maybe it’s true that the only place he could fit is USAFA: where else could he pull this business). I don’t know what they think of it, but I noticed he got some crossways press in the Gazette. Any read on that or anyone else in the peanut gallery?

    1. GoMids

      This is a good point, don’t know what the answer is, maybe their grads eat his act up, or maybe they roll their eyes and ignore it as long as he’s winning. People are always willing to tolerate obnoxious behavior if you’re producing. It’s when you stop producing that it becomes a problem. Their AD is in a tough spot — new guy, TC has a new deal that old AD signed and AF can’t afford to toss. So TC knows he can get away with being insubordinate, for now. Best hope AD has for any kind of leverage is if they stop winning, ironically, or at least have enough of a mediocre stretch where the AD can start reining in TC. Our best hope in the context of this piece is if AF loses enough to justify TC getting canned. Looking back on FDB, I think his exit was losing + causing trouble re God squad stuff + politically incorrect dumb public remarks. But mostly losing — AD gave rudder orders on staff changes, FDB balked, and gone.

  7. USMC1999

    I don’t understand why he would reference Vietnam. Why not talk about Iraq/Afghanistan? At least there, you could point to your former players serving as some sort of touch-point? Also 7 tours? I obviously wasn’t in Vietnam, but that seems like it would have to be an interesting career path for a Col to serve 7 tours (AF I am assuming? or are we talking Army now?) I defer to the Vietnam vets on that one though.

    As you said smacks of “smartest man in the room” syndrome.

    1. When Calhoun talks about military stuff, all he’s really doing is recycling the Air Force equivalent of Reef Points. That’s part of what makes it so laughable. It isn’t deep thoughts, it’s plebe rates.

    2. tphuey

      I agree. He doesn’t have any real military experience. Everything he knows about the military he learned at the AFA. And as we all know, being at the service academies is like being in the service. It’s a make believe world.

  8. newt91

    i’m certainly willing to concede that AF has a massive home field advantage – both being at home and playing at altitude. but that made the “not in Denver” game such a mystery to me. losing a home game might not be great, but the long term benefits of playing a high profile game in an NFL stadium, national tv, etc can’t be completely lost on him, can it? “Come play Notre Dame at Mile High Stadium on national tv” is a pretty cool recruiting pitch – right?

    1. Anonymous

      The thing is, you could almost understand his rationale for fighting a game in the Cotton Bowl – I’m guessing they wouldn’t drag the whole Cadet Wing down there to play New Mexico. The presence of the entire student body is one of those cool things about service academy football. But Denver?? That’s like us and the Woops driving to Philly every year. Great liberty, big exposure, and cash money. That just seems like a stupid business decision to pile on his poor leadership of the program.

  9. Anonymous

    “… but the majority of his time on active duty was spent in Colorado Springs as a football coach.” Not true. He served in the Air Force from 1989 to 1995. He was an assistant coach for the Falcons in 1993-94. That’s only two years out of six, NOT a majority.

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