Army's Ross out

So Bobby Ross has resigned as Army football coach, not long after Fisher DeBerry resigned from Air Force. The similarities may not end there. It will be interesting to see whom new Army coach Stan Brock hires for his assistants.

It was very telling that the list of coaches retained by DeBerry's successor, Troy Calhoun, did not include offensive coordinator Chuck Petersen nor defensive coordinator Richard Bell.

My best guess is if Kevin Ross sticks around Army, it will not be as offensive coordinator. He came to Army with a decent pedigree--that of a good evaluator of talent for Al Groh at UVa. But his playcalling left much to be desired. Remember the running play in the final seconds against Texas A&M with no timeouts left. A gutsy call for a team with a huge offensive line and an NFL-caliber running back. With Army's offensive line and freshman running back, it was not smart.

The meltdown of freshman quarterback Carson Williams against Air Force wasn't the finest moment either. Calling three straight passes when the quarterback was so rattled was impossibly stupid. (All three were intercepted and led to Air Force touchdowns.)

Army had a very good gameplan for the Navy game--or as good as it could be--but I would be willing to bet the old man came up with that one.

Army's hire of Brock is perplexing and means one of two things: --The administration liked the direction in which Ross was taking the program and wanted to keep that continuity after at least one party, if not both, decided to call it quits, OR --no one else wanted the job.

I tend to think the answer is the former rather than the latter. Ross had recruited well in the Maryland/DC area; one of his assistants, Tyree Foreman, has a very good repuation among the high school coaches, as did Ross. They have some decent recruits at the Army Prep School this year, for instance, and a defensive lineman who played at Iowa as a freshman will be eligible next year.

Really, reading the tea leaves, I think Ross's departure is down to something to do with his son rather than his energy levels. Brock's announcement of his staff should provide us an answer.

Over at Air Force, I would not read too much into Calhoun being a first-time head coach. He played at Air Force--and actually was benched in 1987 in favor of Dee Dowis. They say the best head coaches are the guys who were not great players, so at the very least Calhoun has that going for him.

What I think will be interesting, however, is how he goes about the offense. Calhoun says he wants to incorporate the option with a few other schemes, and to that I say good luck.

Listening to a Notre Dame game on the radio a few years ago, I was struck by the analyst (maybe Allen Pinkett or former ND assistant Tom Pagna) saying that the option is an all-or-nothing approach. The timing required to run it well makes it impossible to run the option consistently if it is only in the gameplan for 5 or 6 plays a game; i.e. it has to be practiced over and over and over to work, and few teams are willing to commit that much time to practicing a play they will run 5 times.

For instance, even the best passing and power-I Nebraska teams would run the option 10 or 15 times a game, and it would seem they did it so as not to lose timing. The other thing is that the option is a heavy audible offense; when Nebraska had experienced quarterbacks they would audible 70 or 80 percent of the time.

Navy does not audible that much, according to players, because Paul Johnson is a good-enough play caller that they don't need to.

It remains to be seen if Army and Air Force, in their new hires, have found a similarly good play caller. At this point, Navy fans must be willing to bet a Commander-In-Chief's trophy that they have not.


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