ANNAPOLIS, Md.-Four teams that participated in bowl games, including three bowl champions, and six home games highlight the 2003 Navy football schedule released Saturday by Naval Academy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk.
"Six home games in a newly renovated Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium should bring excitement and anticipation to our fan base," said Gladchuk. We will highlight the "triple option" in 2003 - football, pageantry and tailgating. With this schedule and the momentum that was built by Coach Johnson and the team at the end of the year brings an even higher level of expectation for the program's success."
"This will be a very challenging schedule for our football team," said Navy head football coach Paul Johnson. "It's a national schedule against a lot of good football teams."
Gladchuk also announced that all home games have been moved from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m.
"We are moving our home games back to 1:30 p.m. to make it more convenient for our fans that have conflicts on Saturday mornings," said Gladchuk. "The time change should make it easier for fans to get to the game early, enjoy the environment and be in their seats for the opening kickoff."
The Mids will open the 2003 campaign on Aug. 30 against VMI. The Keydets are coming off a 6-6 season, including a 27-16 victory over Southern Conference Co-Champion Wofford.
The Mids travel to Fort Worth, Texas, on Sept. 6 to take on the TCU Horned Frogs. Former Navy assistant Gary Patterson led TCU to a 10-2 record in 2002, including a 17-3 whipping of Colorado State in the Liberty Bowl. The Horned Frogs will provide a huge challenge to Navy's vaunted rushing attack, as TCU was the number one defense against the run this past fall, giving up just 62.6 yards per contest.
Navy will return home on Sept. 20 to take on Eastern Michigan of the Mid-American Conference. The Eagles were 3-9 last fall and will be playing Navy in football for the first time.
The battle for the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy kicks off on Oct. 4 when Navy plays host to Air Force at FedExField in Landover, Md. The Falcons are coming off an 8-5 season, including a 20-13 loss to Virginia Tech in the San Francisco Bowl.
The game against Vanderbilt will pit old Southern Conference coaching rivals in Bobby Johnson (Furman) and Paul Johnson (Georgia Southern). Bobby Johnson, in his first year at Vanderbilt, led the Commodores to a 2-10 record in 2002.
Rice is coming off a 4-7 campaign, including a 17-10 victory over Navy in Annapolis.
The Delaware Blue Hens return to Navy's schedule for the first time since 1996 when they visit Navy-Marine Corps for Homecoming on Oct. 25. The Blue Hens were 6-6 last fall, including a 22-19 victory over Georgia Southern.
The Mids will play host to the champions of the Hawaii Bowl, Tulane, on Nov. 1. Tulane was 8-5 last fall, including a 36-28 upset win over Hawaii to win the first-ever Hawaii Bowl. Tulane beat Navy last year, 51-30.
Navy travels to South Bend, Ind., to take on the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame on Nov. 8 in the longest continuous intersectional series in the country. It will be the 77th straight meeting between the two institutions. Navy nearly pulled off one of the biggest upsets in school history last fall in Baltimore as Notre Dame rallied to score 15 points over the last 4:30 to beat the Mids, 30-23. Notre Dame finished the 2002 campaign with a 10-3 record, including a 28-6 loss to N.C. State in the Gator Bowl.
Navy's home finale will be on Nov. 22 against a second member of the Mid-American Conference, Central Michigan. Central Michigan is coming off a 4-8 season, which included narrow losses to Indiana (39-29), Bowling Green (45-35) and Marshall (23-18). It will be the first-ever meeting between the two institutions.
The season finale against Army will take place on Dec. 6 in Philadelphia at the Eagles new stadium, Lincoln Financial Field. Army was 1-11 last year including a 58-12 loss to the Midshipmen in a game that saw Navy quarterback Craig Candeto score an Army-Navy game record six touchdowns and throw for another.
Season tickets are currently on sale and can be bought at the Naval Academy Box Office in Ricketts Hall or by calling 1-800-US4-NAVY. Season tickets are $160.00, $144.00 for NAAA members and $112.00 for Naval Academy faculty and staff. Single-game tickets are $25.00 ($35.00 for the Air Force game) and $19.00 for end zone seats. Billy the Kid tickets are $8.00.
2003 NAVY FOOTBALL SCHEDULE