Further Review

Steve Hummer's Further Review blog offers comments, asides and quick hits on the state of sports

Army-Navy rightfully gets stage all to itself this weekend

With the biggest game of the season approaching, Army and its coach Jeff Monken had to spend exactly not one second dealing with any combination of: Knuckleheads, car and misdemeanor marijuana possession.

Because that is not how the world turns around here.

This is a little more serious place, where they prepare for serious things.

Let other programs – notably Georgia, according to latest headlines – deal with the folly of entitled college football players. There is no time nor place for such nonsense Saturday in Philadelphia, in a game set off by itself, a separate treat after the excesses of conference championship week. 

It’s just a little different when you look at a game as a privilege.

That was Monken’s word Tuesday for the coming Army-Navy game. “A privilege for all of us involved in this game to represent the people we do by wearing our team colors,” he said.   

In his fourth year as Army’s head coach, Monken dares call this game the greatest of rivalries (granted he’s biased). “Not because of the game itself, but the people we represent,” he said.

By the way, Army on Saturday will be wearing nearly all white, as a tribute to the 10th Mountain Division, which was one of the more winterized Army units of WWII. That was announced here Sunday with quite a flourish, the U.S. Military Academy’s Superintendent – Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen, a member of the 10th Mountain – riding into a team gathering aboard a snowmobile. When they fiddle with the uniforms around here, it’s more than a marketing ploy.  

I’ll dive a little deeper into this game and some of those who play it this week because, well, it just seems like a neat thing to do. This is a week that stirs other emotions within the college football fan. It is a week to celebrate the best part of the game as played by these two special places.   

And I don’t believe anywhere at any time the issue of a cheerleader taking a knee during the national anthem will arise.  

Traveling along the way from West Point to Annapolis to the game in Philadelphia who knows the type of players you might meet? Like the linebacker/chemical engineer major who is at the top of his class. Or a Naval Academy running back who longs to be an astronaut.

Army is on a one-game winning streak now, having broken a 14-year losing streak in 2016. Both teams, with direct connections to Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson, run the same type of triple-option offense. Inevitably, that leads to the kind of close game you might expect from mirror images. 

And beyond all the patriotic overtones to Army-Navy, you also have every right to expect one whale of football game.

From Monken again: “When the ball gets snapped, it’s just a fistfight for five or six seconds. Then they blow the whistle and we line up and do it all over again. And we do it all afternoon.”    

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About the Author

Steve Hummer writes sports features for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He covers a wide range of sports and topics.