According to this article, Army superintendent Lt. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck has announced a study group to conduct a comprehensive review of the struggling program and "its relationship to the total West Point experience." The panel will be headed by retired Gen. Tom Schwartz, West Point Class of 1967, and includes Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, a 1969 Academy grad, former coaches Jim Young and Bob Sutton, Pete Dawkins, Army's 1958 Heisman Trophy winner, and Walters, who played on the '58 undefeated team with Dawkins.
At first, I was pretty excited at the prospects of getting my hands on this announcement in order to read all of the particulars because it sounded like a step in the right direction. So I decided to go to West Point's sports web page, www.goarmysports.com. I did find information about the Army Women's Tennis Incoming Class but surprise, surprise, nothing about this major announcement that pretty much effects the entire athletic department. But then I thought, well, the announcement came from the Superintendent, so let me go to the main West Point web site: www.usma.edu. Again, much to my surprise, I was able to read about a Yard Sale at West Point but nothing about a panel that includes a retired general, a retired admiral and a Heisman Trophy winner. Well, they must have linked their web site to the Times Herald Record story I mentioned above, right? A quick check of the Army in the News Page for the major announcement came up empty as well.
After exhausting all "official" Army sports web sites for a copy of the announcement, I decided to go to GoMids.com and see if there was anything on the message boards about it. Sure enough, an extremely bright Navy fan started a message thread entitled "West Point Football Study." It turns out the announcement must have been some kind of exclusive for West Point's weekly community newspaper, Pointer View. Huh? What the heck is going on here??? I would put a call into the Army Athletic office to find out why this release isn't being announced on their web site but their reps won't talk to me. (See a previous volume of my column for more on that sore subject.) So, therefore I am left to my own devices to dissect this study group and moreover, how the information was promulgated.
The first member of the panel who stood out to me was former Army football coach Bob Sutton. Wasn't he fired in 1999 on a street corner in Philadelphia? Didn't he win 44 games in 9 years running the dreaded and out-dated (gulp) wishbone? Now, Army is turning to him to help turnaround the program?
The second name who stood out to me was one that wasn't on the list: Army Athletic Director Kevin Anderson. According to the release, which I read a copy of on GoMids.com and NOT on any official Army sports web site, "The group will conduct an unbiased and strategic analysis of the factors affecting the competitive success of the (football) program…and their recommendations will be vetted against the mission, vision and goals of the academy." Excuse me, but what exactly is the purpose of having an athletic director? If he can not provide an unbiased and strategic analysis of the football program, then it's time to find someone who can. At the very least, doesn't your athletic director need to be a part of any panel looking to find a solution? Good thing they have Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski on the panel. I got ten bucks on Coach "K" starting off the first panel meeting by saying, "Maybe you guys should run some version of the option like Navy and Air Force." I'd also suspect former Navy football star and Superintendent, retired Rear Adm. Tom Lynch would provide some golden silence after that comment as a sign of his concurrence. Let's just hope that he doesn't suggest throwing $2.5 million per year at Paul Johnson to get him away from Navy. He wouldn't, right? Heck, that can't be an option.
Speaking of options, Army's latest option as their head football coach couldn't have been too pleased when he got wind of this panel. I did not see any mention of Stan Brock in this press release. No mention of putting this panel together to support their current head coach and his efforts on the gridiron. No mention of being behind Stan Brock 100% and that this panel will be looking at every way to improve the program outside of the head coaching position. The last time Army put a panel like this together in late 2002/early 2003, Army had just got pasted by Navy 58-12 and Todd Berry's head coaching record at West Point was 5-19. However, the Superintendent at the time (Gen. Lennox) said that he "specifically excluded from the study the questions of whom would coach" the Army football team in the future. Maybe last time the panel should have looked into fixing the coaching position as well. Or (another gulp), maybe they did. Irregardless, this was a perfect opportunity for the West Point brass to show support for their new coach, and they didn't. How many years is Stan Brock's contract? Don't you form these panels before you hire a coach to a multi-year deal?
If you want to read the full West Point release, be sure to not go to any official Army sports web site. You can, however, read it here at GoMids.com. But you knew that already.
I'll tell you, I get so worked up about Army. It is so frustrating the way they handle information. I just don't get it. I realize this column isn't going to win any hearts and minds at West Point, but the timing of this new panel and how they chose to release the information just opens them up for so many unnecessary questions – like some of the ones I mentioned above. I'm sure given a chance to sleep on this story, I'll probably come up with several more queries. And since I also have to answer my fan mail, please prepare yourselves for another "Off the Yard" installment this week. In the meantime please feel free to send your comments to me at Ausiellodp@yahoo.com.