Opinion: Army Bye Week Blues

"It's The Same Old Song" was a popular song sung by The Four Tops in the 60's. If you listen closely, you can hear Army fans whistling the same tune while waiting for this week's encounter against Air Force.

This year's results are eerily matching last year's. The seasons start with a winnable road game ( Arkansas St. last year, Akron this year) that somehow gets frittered away. The team bounces back to a 3-3 record, with both years featuring 2 OT wins. Last year's team then went south, losing out by convincing margins to go 3-9. This year, matters have the same ominous look. The offense spits out turnovers at the same rate Detroit spits out cars, giving way to a defense that has been giving up yardage in huge chunks all along, but isn't making the stop plays they made earlier in the season to keep opponents off the scoreboard.

It's always easy to blame the coaching staff. Check out any internet site or listen to any town's talk radio, and you will find coaches under fire. A team could be 7-1 and fans will be unforgiving about the loss, and unhappy about a myriad of things even during the wins. It's enough to make you think all fandom is out of their collective minds. But at times, the critics have a point. You follow a team that through 3 coaches goes 17-72 after dropping a reasonably successful offensive scheme. Each coach seems even more stubborn than the last to prove he is the man to win with the system. And yet the same dreary results continue, with seemingly no end in sight.

Stan Brock has hinted in recent weeks that he is open to reviewing possible change in the off-season. The question is, why not try something now? Army fans have been sitting through bad football for a long time and deserve more hope as the season progresses. The players play much too hard for this staff to stick with the status quo. This change could just involve some innovation and some gadget plays just to keep things interesting. The whole scheme doesn't need to change, at least not at this time.

Yet Coach Brock said in a recent internet interview that while he has studied option play and thinks Navy has done a terrific job running it, that the Mids still lost to the same opponent Army fell to earlier in the year (Wake Forest), as if that justifies his staff's approach to the game. To compare Army's fortunes in recent times favorably to Navy's is silly on the one hand and alarming in the other. Fans of the BK's look at Navy's accomplishments with jealous admiration, and yearn for a time that they can also muse about which bowl game Army will be invited to every year.

In any profession, a 7 year success rate of under .200 would send most folks running to the drawing board, searching for an immediate fix. Yet Cadet fans are advised to hang in there because better times are on the way. But better times have gotten lost along the way. The coach says things would improve with 'better execution'. The cynic would say that execution needs to start in the coaching offices.


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