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.