previous column I added a remark about my family
which brought a few messages to my inbox. Specifically, my recent mention about
my newborn son's gastrointestinal issues caught the eye of a few "Off the Yard"
readers or "Off the Yarders" as I like to call them. A few such column subscribers thought my
comments about the study group were "pretty good" and even "dead on," but when
coupled with my family insights, in their opinions, it lost some of the effect
on the intended audience (
absolutely shocked to see his name come up in this GoMids.com article as one of the four worst service academy coaches of
all-time. Navy football was dead on
arrival in 1994 and Charlie Weatherbie brought it back to life. The 1996 season alone should have been
enough to keep him off this list.
According to my research, Weatherbie was at the helm during six of
the biggest Navy wins in the last decade.
Furthermore, before Weatherbie, the last time Navy had a winning season
was in 1982. That's 14 years of
frustration that he ended. For some
perspective, Army currently has had ‘only' 10 consecutive losing seasons. Imagine how thrilled Army fans would be
if you told them that in four years a coach will end their losing ways and lead
the team to nine victories including a bowl win over a PAC-10 power. That coach would get naming rights to
any building at
Why Play Notre Dame?
Having personally attended all four contests against Notre Dame while at the Academy, including the contest in Dublin, Ireland, I have to say that I thought each year we had a chance to win. Sure I was an over-the-top optimist and rabid fan, but I thought that the win could have come on my watch and if it did then I would have been a member of a very exclusive club. Heck, less than 100,000 people will eventually be able to say that they were there to witness a truly historic moment...and that includes only a few thousand mids. Unlike me, Keith in Davidsonville believes the streak will never end and he would rather us string it out a bit and play a Michigan or Penn State instead of Notre Dame once in awhile. Let a team other than the Irish deal with the triple option on a week's worth of practice is Keith's argument. Perhaps a team without any players on their respective rosters who have played against Navy's scheme for one, two, or three years in a row may be a more beatable big-time opponent.
Keith makes a lot of sense. Maybe he should be writing this column. I honestly like his idea, but unfortunately I don't think it is going to happen. As a fan, I wouldn't mind seeing us play Notre Dame every other year, but I doubt current or former players would agree. I think as much as every Notre Dame player doesn't want to be a part of the team that loses to Navy, the same can be said about the Mids. From the recruiting trail to gameday, each Navy football player probably believes (as I did as a fan) that they have a legitimate shot to end the streak. I imagine this opportunity invigorates them each and every season. I'd love to hear what former players think - drop me a line at (Ausiellodp@yahoo.com ). I'd bet they would rather lose four times to Notre Dame than be a part of the class that discontinued the series. I'm not insinuating that the players are the decision-makers, but if I was the AD, I'd respect their opinions on the subject. Thanks to Keith for the question. I'll be happy to share the opinions of other fans and/or players in an upcoming column.
Waving Money at Paul Johnson
Study Group Feedback
I have to admit that it's tempting to enter the back and forth on the message boards about my story on the Army study group. But I won't. However, if someone sends me an email at Ausiellodp@yahoo.com and provides some feedback or has a question, I will use this column to address it.
My take is simple. If I called either the Navy or Air Force athletic departments to ask them about a study group that they formed to look at a program, I would get answers. By giving me access, this allows them to control their message. I would have no choice but to make these answers the basis of my story. Not to do so would be unprofessional. Army has answers to my questions. But for some reason, they are not giving them to me, to CNN, to anyone.
As far as a Navy grad not being able to write objectively about Army, I would expect such an opinion from someone who has not graduated from either institution. However, any Naval Academy graduate, (not sure if John from El Paso is one) who does not respect and even openly root for West Point when their team is not playing them, in my opinion, has lost sight of the big picture.
In the coming months, I will write feature stories about both Navy and Air Force student- athletes, but none about Army student-athletes. I will get their opinions about sports, their futures, their goals and their dreams. I will share these stories with fans, alumni and perhaps most importantly with perspective applicants who visit the Scout.com network of web sites. I'd love to do the same about Army athletes.