1. Coach Paul Johnson – Where do I start? Navy football's success starts and ends with their coach. A public statement by Johnson taking him out of consideration for any other Division I-A job would be reason to be extra thankful. Perhaps that should go on every Navy Fan's Christmas Wish List.
2. Army running a pro-style offense – This alone should ensure another happy gathering in Philadelphia. Sure, it's a rivalry game and anything can happen, but at least Navy won't have to wonder where the ball is going every down when Army is on offense. Just pressure their quarterback and let him make some mistakes. Chances are, he (whoever starts) will do just that.
3. Air Force home for the holidays – Unless there is a Miracle on Falcon Street, Air Force will be watching another bowl season from the comfort of their living rooms. I know it's wrong to be thankful for those who are not as fortunate as yourself, but heck, I put this at #3, not #1.
4. Sophomores who step-up – From Kaipo to Kettani, the good recruiting has started to pay-off big time. The secondary should probably also get some props here as they too have been stepping up all season. I can already hear the expectations for 2007 building. Sure there will be some rebuilding on both lines and at linebacker, but for the first time in what seems like forever, Navy's entire backfield will be returning.
5. AD Chet Gladchuck – It's probably a good idea to give some love to the man who keeps Coach Johnson happy. He should also receive some kudos for keeping Navy dominant over Army in a lot of sports. And until he decides to take the Army job for three times more money, we need to enjoy him while we can. Did I just start a rumor?
6. Effective Public Affairs – Of course winning cures everything, but Navy has managed to distance itself quite nicely from some rather unfortunate off-the-field events. If Navy was 3-8, the off-the-field stories in the media would probably be magnified. If something comes up, deal with it and move on – that's good PR. And winning allows you to move on to other news rather easily.
7. Billy Lange – The Navy Men's Basketball team is 3-1 for the first time in nine years. Has Navy officially turned the corner? It's definitely too early to tell. However, I remember a not-so-long time ago when the Stony Brooks and Browns of the world would pound us pretty good. A .500 season is definitely possible, and for such a young team, that would be major progress.
8. Women's Soccer – Perhaps they should be higher on this list, but their season is over so Navy fans should be thankful in a retrospective way. It was a great season and there isn't anything wrong with having expectations for another major Navy sports program year in and year out. Let's just hope that the new women's lacrosse team doesn't try to steal some of the superb athletes off this team…then again.
9. Charlotte – Personally, I'd prefer to be traveling to a bowl game in a warmer destination or to a game in a domed stadium, but if it's got to be the East Coast in December, then Charlotte is a pretty fine place to spend a few days. Ribs, barbeque, Southern hospitality, a big city with a small city feel, an NFL stadium, and a quality ACC opponent are all reasons to be thankful and excited about Charlotte.
10. Men's Lacrosse – Only three months to the team opens its 2007 campaign. I have to admit, I've been caught up in football a bit and I haven't had a chance to do too much research, but I do know the men's lacrosse team was 11-4 last season and they qualified for the NCAA tournament. I'm definitely not looking forward to signing Blue and Gold in Charlotte, but knowing that Navy will be pretty good in lacrosse again should dull the pain a bit.