Off the Yard: Volume III

I feel like I should apologize to my scores of fans for being away so long, but since nobody emailed me asking where I was, I figured you were all just "in the know" about what had been going on in my life. Well just in case two of you out there don't follow my every move, here is an update on my favorite subject – me.

Marine Corps Maj. Doug Zembiec

First, on a serious note, I had planned on posting a lengthy tribute to my friend and shipmate, Marine Corps Maj. Doug Zembiec. The whole thing was about 2,000 words in total, but after a lot of soul searching, I decided to keep my thoughts to myself. I will say this about my former company-mate at the Naval Academy – he was an American treasure. I am so grateful for the two years I got to know him. He taught me so much and at times, he made me laugh until I cried. When you read stories about him, and thankfully they are everywhere on the web, know that they are not exaggerated. I'm a better person for having known and learned from Doug.

Dark Ages for Some, but Not Me

Second, on a semi-serious note, my wife is nine months pregnant. Let's just say it has been a fun two weeks of nesting which has led to a "honey do" list a mile long. I think my chores may be finally done which has allowed me to get back to entertaining all six of you who are reading this. That being said, when our son arrives, I will probably take another hiatus as I get another taste of sleep deprivation. And yes, the poster-sized image of Coach Paul Johnson is already hanging in his room. From the size of my wife's belly, I'm thinking he will probably be a fullback in Johnson's system about two decades from now.

Third, as someone so appropriately mentioned on the message boards, it feels like the dark ages in the Navy sports community. Sure, after lacrosse there was rowing and sailing, but, well, um…ok, I won't say what I wanted to say. But correct me if I'm wrong, it's tough to get excited about sports that require a boat to see from beginning to end.

I Got Another Question!

So what should I write about? Hey, wait, I almost forgot. I got another email with a question! That brings my grand total of questions to two. So here we go…Lud in Fredericksburg, Virginia wanted to know how many outright national championships the Navy lacrosse team has won in its history. The answer of course is 11. Lud also wanted to know what happened to Navy in the late 70's and early 80's when they pretty much fell out of national championship contention in lacrosse. Luckily I knew the answer to his first part because I don't have the foggiest clue about the second part. Heck, I would like to know why they don't have a shot clock in the sport. I say once a team establishes possession, they should have to take a shot every minute. The never-ending passing around in a circle really dampens my enthusiasm for the sport. Anyway, thanks Lud for the question and because of it, you will be receiving a genuine, full-ticket from the 1996 Navy-California Aloha Bowl. Again, not too shabby for just sending me an email…

For this week, I'm even lowering the bar for the next winner…for details, keep reading.

West Point – Help Me, Help you!

I'll tell you, I can not get a break with West Point. I have put off airing my dirty laundry in this column and I will continue to do so – well, sort of. As you all know, I have had great access to both the Navy and (recently) Air Force athletic departments. Navy has not only granted me access, but they have put up with my mistakes, off-beat humor, and slight criticism of Coach Johnson's play-calling in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Did I mention the poster of Johnson hanging in my unborn son's room? Anyway, Air Force has also given me access to their new football coach, Troy Calhoun, which led to a two-part interview and an invitation to come to Colorado Springs anytime to cover the team. I am extremely grateful to both schools for the access and the support. I would like to think that both schools, even if in a very small way, have benefited in some respect from the coverage. (Did I really question Coach Johnson's play-calling?) Well, the purpose of me telling you about how gracious Navy and Air Force have been is to try and figure out why I can not get the same access from West Point.

I could share with you excerpts of my communications (and the responses) from West Point, but I'm not ready to hang those clothes on the line yet. Let's just say that their policy is different from the other two academies when it comes to "fan" web sites. So, I need your help. How can I convince West Point to change its policy towards reporters from so-called "fan" web sites? Army, Navy, and Air Force fans alike are all welcome to send me your thoughts on the matter. Should Army be different? Should I just give up and concentrate on Navy sports? How about driving up to New York and holding a protest outside of West Point? Should I write a letter? To whom should I address it? I mean honestly, what is the worst-case scenario by giving me access to coaches and players at West Point for interviews? Alright, I'm done for now. 

You knew this was coming – first person to send a legit comment (or a real funny one) to Ausiellodp@yahoo.com will win another prize from my "Good Enough for EBay" collection. 


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