Army Game Will Take on New Feel for Dupaix

When Navy plays Army this year on December 12, the game will take on a whole new flavor for the Mids' slot back coach Joe DuPaix. It will mark the first time in his career that he will be on the opposite sideline as his mentor, Rich Ellerson. However, before he can think about that game, DuPaix has some serious work to do to prepare a whole new corps of a-backs for the 2009 season.

As soon as Army named Rich Ellerson as their new head coach this past winter, rumors started flying around Annapolis that he may place a call to his former offensive coordinator to see if he was interested in joining him at West Point. However, before Joe DuPaix's phone rang, the Navy slot back coach declared himself uninterested in becoming Army's offensive coordinator.

In a statement released by the Navy football office hours after the Ellerson hire, DuPaix was quoted as saying, "I love coaching here at Navy. I really enjoy working with Coach (Ken) Niumatalolo. I'm not looking to move my family again."

If DuPaix had been offered the job, it would have been the second time that he declined a potential promotion in favor of a job at Navy. Prior to joining the football staff in Annapolis last year, DuPaix was rumored to be the top candidate for the vacant head coaching job at his alma mater, Southern Utah.

In fact, DuPaix' dad and option guru in his own right, Roger, told last April that he was "surprised" that his son chose Navy over what appeared to be a clear cut path to the top job with Southern Utah.

His son meanwhile wasn't caught off guard when Army decided to hire Ellerson.

"It wasn't a surprise at all. When I heard [Coach Brock] was fired, that was the first thing I told a bunch of the guys - that [Ellerson] would be the next coach [at Army]," said DuPaix.

"It wasn't something he talked about a lot, but it was something that was known…that [Coach Ellerson] wanted to go to a service academy. I don't know if he would have jumped at other jobs in the PAC-10 or Mountain West," said DuPaix. "There was always a sense with him that it was almost a calling or an opportunity of service to go to a military school. So it did not surprise me at all."

As for that match-up that looms in December, DuPaix agreed that it is going to be somewhat awkward to see Ellerson on the opposing sideline in the biggest game of the year.

"Coach Ellerson, understand, he is one of my greatest mentors. He recruited me out of Snow College to play quarterback at Southern Utah University, so I've known him since 1996…that's 12 plus years of history….and I coached with him for seven years," said DuPaix. "It's definitely an interesting situation that he is at Army…our greatest rival…who is the team that we expect to beat every year."

"It's an interesting dynamic – let me just leave it at that," he continued.

DuPaix laughed when asked if he expected to spend some time in the defensive film sessions as they prepare for Army in order to provide intelligence to Buddy Green's staff.

"Sure, [Coach Ellerson and I] did spend seven years together. What they are doing is very similar to what we are doing. I'm sure there will be some discussion," joked DuPaix. "But Coach Green knows what he is doing. He has been around the block multiple times. He has proven that to everyone. It will be fun to see how things turn out."

"But for me, going against Army is about our players…it's about Navy football," concluded DuPaix.

In Part II of my interview with DuPaix, the slot back coach discusses the challenges his unit will face in the upcoming season.


Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo talks with's Adam Nettina and discusses progress after one week of practice. Top Stories