It’s been two weeks since National Letter of Intent Signing Day, and college football fans around the country have spent the last several days either celebrating or lamenting their lists of incoming football recruits depending on what Rivals and Scout tell them to do. Navy fans aren’t all that different; we want to know what the future holds as much as anyone else. Signing day itself, though, doesn’t quite hold the same significance. Signing day is the first day that recruits are allowed to sign binding letters of intent under the NLI program. Once coaches receive a recruit’s signed letter committing them to the school, they’re allowed to talk about them. One exception to this is at the service academies, who don’t participate in the letter of intent program. Recruits are given certificates to sign at their high school’s signing day ceremonies, but unlike LOIs, they aren’t binding contracts. That’s why Navy won’t officially release its recruit list until I-Day. Not only that, but recruiting doesn’t end on signing day, either. The weekend or two after signing day are usually big recruiting weekends in Annapolis. And if another school didn’t fill all of its needs with its recruiting class, they can still go after service academy recruits. Signing day is more of a symbolic end to the recruiting season than a real one.
Since we’re talking about Air Force, now would probably be a good time to talk about the recent hullabaloo over the Mountain West’s attempts to gain BCS membership, or to create a playoff. With all the talk we do around here about recruiting advantages, can you imagine if Air Force coaches could go into a recruit’s living room and tell him that he could play for a BCS conference? Especially when that recruit’s options are probably something like Air Force, Navy, Bucknell, Dartmouth, and Rhode Island. Those three little letters would certainly enhance the Mountain West’s image, Air Force included. Perception is reality, as the cliché goes. It would also add a lot of money to Air Force’s coffers. So… Is it time?
In a word, no.
The Mountain West can talk about how good Utah, TCU, and BYU are all they want, but it won’t matter. The BCS isn’t about quality of competition. The BCS is about putting together a television package that generates the maximum amount of revenue while being split between the fewest possible number of teams. To that end, it doesn’t matter how good the teams are. All that matters is how many people will watch. This is where the Mountain West’s case falls flat.
The BCS isn’t made up of the best teams in college football; any number of non-BCS teams routinely knock off BCS-conference foes every year. The BCS is made up of the most popular teams in college football. Take a look at the average home attendance of each BCS conference last year:
Now, compare that to the Mountain West’s average attendance: 35,125. Only two MWC teams, BYU and Utah, have a higher home attendance than the Big East’s average. Those two teams skew the league’s average a bit. The average home attendance for the rest of the conference is a paltry 25,802. In short, nobody cares about the Mountain West.
That isn’t meant to be a slight to the MWC. It’s just reality. If the MWC or anyone else is serious about joining the BCS, they don’t need to show how their teams are good enough to compete; Utah, BYU, and TCU have done that. What they need to do is show how their inclusion would make current BCS members more money. But as the attendance numbers show, the Mountain West doesn’t add enough value in terms of a dedicated following for the BCS to be able to charge a significant premium for its television package. Adding nine more teams would just reduce the per-school share of the BCS money pie. That’s also why there’s resistance to a playoff; the money generated from the tournament would have to be split between too many teams. There is no incentive for the BCS schools to be more inclusive.
The people running the Mountain West aren’t stupid. I’m sure they know that they have no chance at seeing their proposals come to fruition. But by making a public to-do out of it, they generate free publicity for their best teams, highlight the true nature of the current BCS system for the public, and help to establish themselves as a leader among the non-BCS conferences.
Those are all good things as far as Mountain West schools are concerned, but nothing any Navy fan should really worry about.
Kyle Widhalm is a lineman from Carrollton, Texas that we have listed on our big recruit board, but without any background info/links. Until now, anyway, thanks to an e-mail I received over the weekend. This is a press release that was sent to the Dallas Morning News, but didn’t make it in (presumably because it was already after signing day):
From: Coach Bob Giesey, Athletic Director & Head Football Coach
Re: Kyle Widhalm, Center/Defensive Tackle going to the Naval Academy
Kyle Widhalm from American Heritage Academy has signed a letter of intent to attend the US Naval Academy. Kyle is the son of Chuck & Carol Widhalm of Fairview, Texas. While at Carrollton’s American Heritage Academy, Kyle has distinguished himself as a top academic student athlete. Along with football he is an outstanding shot putter and discus thrower in Track. Kyle made All District, All State and was a member of the North “Blue” DFW All Private School All Star Football Team. “Kyle Widhalm is one of the best offensive and defensive lineman we have had in 10 years of AHA football which includes many outstanding players”, says Bob Giesey. “There has been no football player at AHA every work harder and been more of a team player than Kyle Widhalm”. Kyle is a superior student and top citizen and I predict someday he will captain the Navy team. He was the “rock” of our championship team this past season and he will be hard to replace”. Robert McAllister and Charles Carter were his coaches this past season and as they have said on more than one occasion, “it’s a pleasure to be with Kyle every day”. Kyle is a tremendous leader and role model for our young players and it is our hope his legacy will continue with other players both on and off the field.
So there you go. One less mystery. Congrats to Kyle and his family, who are seen here along with his coaches:
Bill Wagner talks about Navy’s prep school-bound recruits, including Kevin Eckel, here:
It’s a great write-up on some of our future Mids, and Wags’ list includes several players that we didn’t have on our big board.
Billy Coates LS 6-5, 220 Pebble Beach, CA
Jake Delvento K/P 6-0, 180 Toms River, NJ
Kenson Dera LB 5-11, 205 Naples, FL– We had mentioned Dera, but all I could find on him came from signing day last year. I’m not sure what his story is, but I’m going to take Wagner’s word for it.
John Kelly DL 6-5, 225 Norcross, GA
Trey Reed SB 5-10, 185 Texarkana, TX
Nick Ryan OL 6-3, 270 Tucson, AZ
Kavon Seaton QB 5-10, 180 Vista Murrieta, CA
Jordan Spriggs DB 5-11, 155 Renton, WA
Siu Tafuna DB 6-0, 180 Kahuku, HI (highlights)
Kyle Widhalm OL 6-2, 250 Carrollton, TX
Will Wied LB 5-11, 210 Lafayette, LA
Is it just me, or did Navy recruit the west coast harder than ever? I can’t remember seeing so many players from California, Arizona, Hawaii, Washington, etc. Maybe Steve Johns is a recruiting juggernaut, maybe it’s a result of Ken Niumatalolo’s influence… Or maybe that’s just the way things happened to shake out this year.
Speaking of Hawaii, there is no doubt in my mind that thanks to Coach Niumatalolo, Navy is on the radar of a lot more island recruits. There’s a real us vs. them attitude there, and the locals take tremendous pride in their heritage. It was a remarkable sight at the Poinsettia Bowl luncheon, where many of Utah’s Polynesian players took the time to go to Coach Niumat, shake his hand, and have their picture taken with the nation’s first and only head coach of Polynesian descent. It definitely makes a difference when a Navy coach sits down in a Hawaiian kid’s living room.
This should be it for recruiting news until I-Day.
Navy had one more big recruiting weekend after signing day, and two players who made the trip to Annapolis decided that it wouldn’t be a bad place to call home for four years. Arkansas linebacker James Bornhoft and two-way lineman David Mills from Opelousas, Louisiana, both gave their pledge to Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo to suit up for the Midshipmen. Mills will go to NAPS. No word on Bornhoft, but with a 4.1 weighted GPA and a 28 ACT, he’s probably a good candidate for direct admission (because you know what I say carries a lot of weight with the admissions board). While Mills is all-state on the offensive line, he says he’s being looked at for the defensive side of the ball. Read more about our two newest signees here and here. Bornhoft actually has his own website, complete with highlight video. Congratulations to the future Mids.
Speaking of websites & highlight videos, here’s one for Josh Fitzpatrick.
As it would be expected the week of signing day, this is going to be a recruit-heavy list of links. There are more stories on Navy recruits out there, too, which I might not get around to posting. Seriously, there are a lot of ’em. Those of you who pitched in with links, thanks! In case you didn’t know where the name of this blog came from, scouting for Navy recruits is what “Birddogs” are all about. Anyway, on to the news:
Navy recruit John Dowd won the “Andrew Barberi Scholarship Award, given annually to the [Staten] Island senior gridder who best combines athletic ability and academic performance.”
Cooper Shockley was named Offensive MVP of his league.
The North County Times has a piece on the success of Hal Hunter’s transition from quarterback to linebacker.
Down at the bottom of the page there’s a quote from Beau Riley, a baseball recruit.
Jordan Seivold is a lacrosse recruit.
Some mention of Navy’s Hawaii connections here.
The dark underbelly of signing day for Navy fans is seeing NAPSters sign elsewhere, like offensive lineman Michael Farr, who committed to Rhode Island.
One of last year’s prized recruits, quarterback Robby Davis, is now a prized addition for Wofford.
About 3/4 of the way down the page there’s signing day coverage of Austin Beaty.
On the basketball front, Bill Wagner wrote a great piece on Romeo Garcia.
Navy women’s basketball ultra-plebe Cassie Consedine is the feature of this article.
Those of you going through withdrawl after Adam closed up shop at Pitch Right will be pleased to know that you can support your addiction via his radio program, Under Center.
A good sign for Kyle: the Patriots’ running backs are considered “one of the most stable positions on the club.”
Speaking of the Patriots, a Georgetown student writer noted the many connections that Hoya coach (and former Navy assistant) Kevin Kelly had to the Super Bowl.
And finally, Charlie Weatherbie gushes over Jack Lengyel.
Bill Wagner’s signing day article is up at the Capital:
Along with some details on a few of the players, his list has
a name two names we didn’t have:
Ryan Ackerman, LS, 5-11, 180, Clearwater Central Catholic, Oldsmar, Fla.
Austin Hill, LS, 6-0, 195, Mahopac, NY
If a player isn’t on Wags’ list, he’s probably going to NAPS. I’m going to leave the recruit page up until I-Day, when the official list is published.