Service Academy Football

Most people simply do not comprehend the depth of emotion in the military that goes with the rivalry in service football. In the bases and the fleet, it is important, but to the service academies it is not life or death, but something more important.
Partly, it is a chance to play against someone our own size, literally, and someone who has similar recruiting challenges. When we play Notre Dame and many other teams, we give away 75 pounds a man in the line, and our academy student bodies are tiny — each Service Academy has only 4,000 students, and a quarter of those are women!

So, when Service Academies meet, life stands still at an Academy.

Last week, Air Force lost narrowly to then #2 in the Nation Michigan State, and an Air Force player said it was “frustrating.” Asked how he would feel if Navy defeated them today, the same player said he would be “heartbroken.”

He is heartbroken because Navy routed Air Force 33-11, but it wasn’t that close. Navy’s record breaking Quarterback, Keenan Reynolds, personally gained 183 yards.

Navy will now win the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy by beating Army, which it will do unless Navy cancels its football program. Navy has beaten Army 13 consecutive times and that streak will continue. Army/Navy is supposed to be the big event, but for the past decade or so Air Force has provided more competition. Nevertheless, the chant “Beat Army” is unlikely to be changed to “Beat Air Force” anytime soon — more than 100 years of tradition dies hard.

Since all Academies recruit for the same small pool of athletes who are academically prepared and inclined to serve their nation, winning the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy gives a program a leg up. Navy is 4-0 on the year, and will be Bowl bound, but there is little chance to be undefeated — Notre Dame looms large, but Navy will have an exceptionally good year — the polls are starting to notice.

This next week, Navy faces Notre Dame, and that should be the main test. Whatever Notre Dame’s record, their recruiting is legendary. Today Notre Dame is in the Top Ten in the nation, but they have not played well and will drop. Navy is not in their league because the Service Academies cannot fit a 330 pound lineman into a jet cockpit, or a submarine.

Washington Post football reporter, Patrick Stevens, says, “Verdict: Looks like a Navy team content to handle business when it should, and that could add up to a 10-win regular season.”

“could” is the operative word. We shall see if the Navy can do it!

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