The Commander in Chief trophy, affectionately known as the CIC among the players who vie for the right to have it in their trophy case until the following year, is a symbol that the casual college football fans might not know the meaning of or the weight it actually carries with the athletes and schools. When a child chooses to play football it often comes with the glitz and glamour of an NFL career and while it takes a special kind of person just to make it to a professional level however, something I have had to learn over the past few weeks with my brother choosing to attend the Air Force Academy to play football is that the person who chooses to nearly forgo their chances to attain a professional career to learn and prepare to defend the country. While I do have a bias to the Air Force due to my brother I wanted to take a moment and thank everyone who has served or plans to serve in the military. It is a sacrifice that is second to none and I hold true gratitude to those willing to make it.
Back to the reason for this article, the CIC. The first presentation of the trophy was given by President Richard Nixon in 1972 and prior to the creation of the trophy the rivalry between the three academies had an interesting setup. While Army and Navy played every season on the second Saturday in December Air force would play the Army in odd years and Navy in even ones. Wanting to establish a more concrete series idea George B. Simler, a General in the Air Force, decided that the three branches should meet every year with the winner of the season series should be awarded a trophy with the victorious Academy’s name in prominence behind the statuettes. After receiving the funding from the alumni foundations from the Naval, Army, and Air Force academies the last thing that needed to be decided was a name. “Commander in Chief” was decided upon since the president is the leader of all military branches as awarded by the constitution. In keeping with the tradition established before the series was turned annual Air Force hosts the game against Army in odd years and Navy in even years. Army won the inaugural trophy in 1972 but currently holds the fewest number of seasons winning the trophy with only 8 despite having won the previous two in 2017 and 2018. Navy is currently chasing the lead in the series with 15 with their last trophy presentation coming in 2015, which leaves the Air Force in the lead with 20 trophy wins and their last in 2016. Military academy football although it still features triple option offenses and rigid discipline on both sides of the ball has become a beloved staple of every fall with the Army-Navy game getting it’s own prime time TV spot on NBC and Air Force up until recently had a streak of bowl eligible seasons.
The selflessness of the student athletes of all service academies exude the pride that is taken in the series each season, just like your typical rivalry a bad season can be saved with just one more win over the hated school who came to invade your home field. Team success and academy pride are what drives these games, the whole institution watches with bated breath as the student athletes are awarded their glory today so they are prepared to defend us tomorrow. It has become sort of a cliche but I remember hearing a quote probably in the promo video for the Army-Navy game but it goes like this, “The difference in service academy games is that everyone playing on the field is willing to die for everyone watching at home.” I wish I could remember the source of that quote because as we all continue to go about our lives and small things start to affect the moods of the country it is humbling to think that for roughly 60 minutes watching a simple football game we can give at least a portion of the men and women who fight for our freedom the gratitude they deserve.
In the upcoming season the dates and times for the games are as follows:
-Air Force at Navy 10/5/2019 @1:30pm
-Army at Air Force 11/2/19 @1:30pm
-Army at Navy 12/14/2019 @1:00pm