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Who Will Play?

Is the CIC series the only hope?

The image above was taken at a Georgia Tech football game in 1918 during World War I and amid the Spanish Flu outbreak. Somehow during international crisis and a deadly pandemic, some teams found a way to restore some sense of normalcy to daily life. As of this writing, there are some conferences in college football who are still planning on playing their conference schedules and possibly a few games out of conference. It is refreshing to me to see these conferences making every effort to claw a schedule out of the dust of Covid-19. They are giving it the “old college try.” The Mountain West threw up their hands and cried wolf. It may be that all these teams will have to do the same thing and stop the season to prevent a surge of virus cases, but I’m happy to see some effort in prevailing amid adversity. I suppose I’m sounding a little bit too much like a college football coach, but that’s my take.

There are three institutions in college football whose very mission is to produce graduates who are committed to the principles of prevailing over adversity amid high risks, and leading others to do the same. The US Military Academy, the US Naval Academy, and the US Air Force Academy field football teams that exist to help train graduates that commit themselves to taking risks while doing everything to mitigate those risks and protecting the nation. It is only natural for these three football teams to continue the Commander-in-Chief series if at all possible. When the Falcons announced that the football season in the Mountain West was being postponed, AD Nathan Pine was quick to point out that the Falcons, the Black Knights, and the Midshipmen would pursue opportunities to compete with each other. I don’t foresee any conference or military commander getting in the way of that competition, unless there is some backroom politics that are beyond my perception.

The first year cadets have all completed their basic military training and have been accepted into their units, classes start soon, and the school grounds have been closed to the public. The teams have started workouts and the players have every incentive to play ball. Every athlete will lose a year of eligibility if the team doesn’t play. All cadets must complete their requirements for graduation in four years, unless they are medically unable. All seniors would lose their last chance to compete at the college level.

As of now Air Force has only the Army and Navy games planned in their schedule. Army has four other games in their schedule, and Navy has eight AAC games scheduled as well as Air Force, Army, and BYU. Navy’s coach Ken Niumatalolo has already whined complained about the wear and tear on his team from the extra games. I’m sure Army and Air Force would be glad to have that dilemma.

The games should be close matches. Until the suspension of Donald Hammond, I thought the Falcons would have the slight advantage. Both Navy and Army will have starting quarterbacks with limited experience, so that position should be fairly close. Navy loses 2000 yard rusher Malcolm Perry and lost two promising defensive backs to the transfer portal. Army suffered through a down season last year, but Jeff Monken has developed a solid defense at Army that shutout the Falcons three years ago, and allowed only 14 and 17 points to the Falcons the last two years. Air Force will need to rely on a strong front seven on defense and a very strong running back corp on offense behind an excellent offensive line. Yahoo Sports has noted that if all the Power 5 conferences decide not to play, the CIC series could become the de facto national championship for this year, so there is that additional motivation for these teams, as well as plenty of attention from college football fans who want to watch at least some football. Please tune in later when I preview each game.

Beat Army

Beat Navy

NOTE: Everything is fluid with college football these days, and the latest news from Army is that they have filled out their schedule with eleven games now, with Air Force on the schedule for November 7th. Air Force AD Nathan Pine provided another update and reiterated that Air Force is still intent on athletic competition with Army and Navy in the fall or spring if it comes to that, and ready to compete with Mountain West fall sport teams in the spring.