At the end of a disastrous 2001 football season, Navy Athletic Director Chet
Gladchuck had to fix what he called a "rudderless" Navy Football program. This
just in, Bob Vila is on the phone and needs some home improvement
Four years later, the man Navy alumni and others around Navy's football program said he needed to hire (and should have been the only name on the list) has done just that.
On November 21st, The Midshipmen of Head Coach Paul Johnson accepted a berth in the first-ever Poinsettia Bowl, scheduled for December 22 in San Diego, California, arguably the Navy capital of North America (with apologies to Norfolk, VA). The Mids will face Colorado State from the Mountain West, led by longtime coach Sonny Lubick and quarterback Justin Holland, who will be the best quarterback Navy has faced all year outside of Notre Dame's Brady Quinn. The game is set to kickoff at 10:30pm eastern time.
"The west coach really delivered big time for us in San Francisco, and they came all up and down the coast to be at that game and now the exciting dimension of having this game in San Diego, where we hope to have a lot of our Naval Community coming home on the ships for holidays and the great support of the enlisted members as well as a great opponent in Colorado State,'' Gladchuck said.
The fact that Navy is now a sought after commodity is an amazing achievement. The Poinsettia Bowl has signed a deal with Navy that gives the Mids an option to return in 2008, 2009 or 2010 at the Mids choice if they are bowl eligible. It is welcome news to Navy fans out west who will get to see the Mids again this year, next year at Stanford and then potentially a couple years down the road.
"People who have followed the program, stayed with the program know where we were four years ago and we worked administratively to make it real, make it lasting, improving facilities, keeping the continuity on the coaching staff, you can say in Navy terms 'the ship has come in' and now we have gone to a bowl game for the third year in a row, the first time that's happened in school history and to be able to share that with out friends in San Diego and the west coast is a fine achievement,'' Gladchuck said.
Ironically, some wanted Navy to perhaps even move to Division 1-AA back in 2001. Now, fans are fried after a 38-17 win over Temple!
"Sometimes people have a short memory. Temple was 4-1 lifetime against Navy and they had some good players," Johnson said. "I'm just real happy for the players as it helps them achieve one of the goal they set out to do and play in a bowl game.''
The fact that this announcement came now was a very welcome piece of news for both Johnson and his players.
"Absolutely. We're happy to be going to a bowl and now we can get the focus on Army. That's the game that matters right now,'' Johnson said.
Co-Captain Lamar Owens agreed.
"It's great news. Mr. Gladchuck did a great job so we can get this out of the
way and focus on the task at hand,'' Owens said.
Co-Captain Jeremy Chase, who is hoping for San Diego as a duty assignment, talked about the pressure of keeping the tradition going.
"We had a lot of success the last couple of years and keeping the success going, and going to a bowl game for a third year in a row helps us keep the going,'' Chase said.
Like his fellow captain and coach, Chase is equally happy to have the bowl announcement out of the way.
"That's huge to get the distraction of what bowl were going too out of the way and get focused on Army which is going to be a great challenge,'' Chase said.