Go Air Force – with an asterisk (*)

Go Air Force! Now there are three words I never thought I, a proud Naval Academy graduate, would hear myself saying in any public forum. However, here I am about to tell all Navy fans that they should be rooting for the Falcons tonight in their showdown with Clemson in the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden.

My rationale is as follows: I think it is fair to say that a lot of the intensity behind the Air Force / Navy rivalry stems from the gridiron and not the basketball court. And even though Naval Academy midshipmen are taught at a young plebian age about the difference between the Army (respect them) and Air Force (just beat them) rivalries, it may be time for a course change – on and off all playing surfaces.

It would take an enormous amount of research to figure out the root cause of the current hostility between Air Force and Navy, but I think it is fair to say that Fisher DeBerry may have been at the center of the most recent animosity. I think it is also fair to say that DeBerry was not held in the highest regard (choosing my words carefully) by the vast majority of Navy fans. Some of that dislike could have come from years of Navy football being used as a punching bag by DeBerry's squads, while some probably could be traced to a certain amount of perceived disrespect shown towards Navy during the Paul Johnson era. However, I think it is important for Navy fans to start the Troy Calhoun era at Air Force with a clean slate – and what a better way to do that then to root for the Falcons basketball team tomorrow night and hopefully in the finals as well. Sure, they are different sports, but why not give rooting for Air Force a try.

If you are skeptical about your act of good sportsmanship and believe that Air Force's new football coach will show Navy little or no respect in his upcoming spring press statements, then go ahead and change "Go Air Force!" to "Go Air Force*" . Then, after the (*) you could explain to your fellow Navy fans that this new found respect comes with lots of contingencies and can be revoked at anytime.

This column combined with news that Air Force's basketball team spent the past weekend staying at West Point – and even practicing in their gym, made me wonder about the following…

If Air Force was scheduled to play in an east coast bowl game over the Christmas break in 2008 – say in Charlotte, and the opportunity arose for them to use Navy's brand new indoor practice facility (due to open that Spring) what would you do?

I thought it was such a good question, I threw a poll out on the message boards (click HERE to take part) to see what fans would do.

Care to comment on this column? Send David an email at Ausiellodp@yahoo.com.

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