“I think it’s crucial that West Point stand out as a place of winners.”

Okay, America, you decide – is building a winning football program at Army important enough to risk recruiting increasing numbers of “… football players… more than twice as likely to fail courses, more likely to leave the Army early and less likely to be promoted to higher ranks in the Army compared with their non-recruited counterparts”?

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20 Comments

Filed under Academics? Academics.

20 responses to ““I think it’s crucial that West Point stand out as a place of winners.”

  1. Hogbody Spradlin

    Or, to frame the question crassly: Do we want West Point recruiting 350 pound nose guards like Bama does, and like we do?

    In thinking about this issue, remember that Navy and Air Force have generally fielded good teams since the military rejuvenated its reputation in the 80’s.

  2. Ralph

    There are a few places where academics are more important than athletics and that would be the service academies. If you can find qualified athletes both academic and athletic, recruit them. Stanford seems to be doing OK with their high standards.

  3. Bob

    Having served at USMA for a three year tour and spent many a cold December day in Philly and New York for the great spectacle that is Army-Navy I probably lean toward the writer’s view. I say that, after my Dawgs, there is no football team I love more than the Cadets and the current losing streak to the Mids is ALMOST as painful as that 20 year nightmare was against the Gators.

    USMA’s problem is more complex than simply recruiting better athletes. Since World War II you can track the Academy’s performance, particularly against it’s sister services ad there is a common denominator during long losing spells. War. From the middle of the Vietnam War until the beginning of the Reagan revival, Army consistently lost to Navy and Air Force. Between this period and 9-11, Army won 75% of the time against Navy. Since 2002, Army is winless in a series it once led.

    These young men are no dummies. Since WWII, air and sea power have remained for the most part, unchallenged by aggressors. This is especially true since the end of the Vietnam conflict. Ground forces are by far the imost dangerous and casualty rates prove that to be true. While some Naval Academy grads go on to serve in the Marine Corps, the majority are on ships or are pilots. The overwhelming majority of West Point males are in the Combat Arms (Infantry, Armor or Artillery) and most of those who are not are in Combat Support like Engineers and Military Police.

    You can compare USMA’s (and the other Academies) academic standards with Stanford or Northwestern or Duke, but those grads do not automatically then assume a 5 year commitment to their country.

    Army has internal athletic issues that need to be addressed. before they look at changing their standards. Bob Sutton beat Navy like a drum and he got fired after 2001. His replacements have won 0 games.

    I love the Academy almost as much as I love UGA. I have so much respect for those young men and women. I want to beat Navy almost as much as I want to beat Florida. I do not want to sacrifice USMA’s standards without looking at all the other problems first.

    Sorry that this was so long and rambling.

    • I think you are absolutely right. It’s easy for me to say, but recognize that war changes the landscape, and play on. Don’t give away your most prized possession to win a couple games against a rival.

    • Not rambling at all, very good perspective, thank you.

      Not sure if this was your ultimate point, but I had not thought of the viewpoint that not all service academies are created equal, from a life or death standpoint after graduation. Like you said, casualties are much higher for land based forces (Army) than sea or air power. So yeah, if I’m a good football player wanting to go to an Academy, and I have my pick of more than one, I’m probably going to pick the one that is less likely to put me in the crosshairs of danger while serving my time after graduation. I can see how that would be one pretty big factor.

    • uglydawg

      Bob, as a veteran who very much appreciates your service and thoughts, I cannot let your inference that the men and women who attend Annopolis and the AFA are seeking to avoid combat go unchallenged.. The sailors, Marines and airmen of these other services go very much in harms way every day of the year. The infantry is to be admired, loved and respected, but so are the other areas of service, which can be just as dangerous.
      While I don’t think you mean to disparage them, I think you do disparage them with this remark.

      • Bob

        Absolutely no intent to disparage any other service. I have the utmost respect for everyone who is serving and who has served and you are correct. There are inherent dangers with almost every service related job. Aircraft carriers are among the most dangerous places on the planet. Simply flying carries with it a myriad of dangers.

        But my point is that ground troops account for 95% of the casualties in combat. Those are the facts…since Vietnam no air force has threatened air supremacy and since World War II no one has threatened our Navy. The only place adversaries can consistently threaten us is on the ground. There are a myriad of reasons for that and most are pretty obvious.

        And I also should clarify that most folks choosing a service academy are not thinking of what might or might not be a threat. But don’t think for one moment that if you are blessed enough to have an option,it is not a consideration. And obviously, if someone chooses the Naval Academy they could go into the Corps or become a SEAL and the Air Force also has Special Operations elements as well. If you attend West Point the odds are dramatically more likely that you will serve in ground combat. That is fact and in no way to disparage anyone or any other service. Hell, if it weren’t for Naval and Air operations, we couldn’t have gotten our equipment to the various conflicts.

        Again, I profusely apologize if I came across in that way. West Point is not losing to Navy and Air Force simply because we are at war. It may very well be a factor, but it is only one of many reasons.

        • uglydawg

          I absolutely understand Bob and accept your explaination.

          All corpsmen serving with the Marine Corp are sailors. All UDT work is done by sailors, the Seabees serve with the Marines and Army in forward bases. The EOD work in Afganistan is done by Navy personel. Of course the work of the Airforce Para-rescue people, forward observers, etc, and the work of the Navy SEALS is very important. Aircraft carriers are very dangerous places (there are youtube videos that will make you sick to watch). Almost every job in the military has it’s dangers..
          Bob, your point is correct..the infantry is a dangerous place to be in a land war. God bless the infantry! They ARE special.
          Bob you don’t need to “profusely apologize” for anything. I apologize for bringing it up. You’re a good man!

          • uglydawg

            And while I attended neither Annopolis or West Point (I was enlisted), I would like to see Army win one.

            • Russ

              Great comments all around. And while I generally pull for Navy (my dad was in the Navy for a few years) I’d love to see army win a few to even up this great rivalry.

    • hunkerdowndawg

      When I was at Navy (1984-1988) we lost 3 of 4 games and continued to lose more than when won as we went from one coach to another trying to run traditional Pro I-formation offensive schemes. USAFA went to the triple option long before Navy and consistently held on to the CIC Trophy. Then Navy went to the triple option and took control of the series and the CIC. Army is now in the triple option and will surely start winning again despite my desire to see Navy continue the streak. Recruiting kids to run the triple option, as Tech now understands, means you are generally attracting kids who have precious few other opportunities to play D-1 anywhere else. I believe the current streak is much more related to the above than it is to the timing of the war on terror. But, I won’t argue that the wars have had an impact on recruiting for all service academies and perhaps Army feels it the most. However, I personally know several kids who chose the academies in the 2000’s because of the war and their desire to serve this country. So there is that. God bless all our troops.

      • hunkerdowndawg

        Correction… But, I won’t argue that the wars have NOT had an impact on recruiting for all service academies and perhaps Army feels it the most. Damn words make a difference.

    • Governor Milledge

      You didn’t ramble at all, Bob, and raised some solid points.

      There are dangers in all walks of military life, but the Army’s are fundamentally different than other branches (excluding the Navy’s Marine Corps).

      My father, for instance, was going to graduate in spring 1969, the height of the Vietnam War and pre-Tet offensive. He had the option to either play roulette with the draft, and likely end up as an enlisted grunt, or he could chose ROTC. My father joined UVA’s Navy ROTC program and ended up in Vietnam/Cambodia for one year of active duty… his time, however, was not the idyllic, open ocean, capital ship life, but he instead was the gunnery officer on a riverine warfare boat (which was also the first ship to go upriver into Cambodia).

      Dangers in the Vietnam-era Navy were definitely everpresent, but they were fundamentally different than worrying about Charlie, enlisted fragging of officers, or walking onto a booby trap. With our continued evolution in military technology, there are a lot of substitutes for air/sea power projection, but as we saw with Gen Ordierno/McChrystal/ex-CIA’s Afghanistan plans, there is still no substitute for boots on the ground in hostile territory.

    • TJ

      Bob,
      I graduated from West Point and was recruited to play football way back in the day. I played football one year and then played baseball the rest of my time at West Point. (I grew up in Georgia and share UGA season tickets with my brother while stationed permanently in civilian life here in North Carolina). I firmly believe that there is a big difference between a leader and someone who scores high on college entrance exams and has a high GPA. West Point (and all the other academies) are looking for people that exhibit both traits. During my time, for every football player that wasn’t as smart as the average cadet there was a cadet that was a genius intellectually but couldn’t figure out how to punch his way through a paper bag, much less lead a platoon or company of soldiers. The football player who can’t handle the academics and the ‘scholar’ who can’t be a leader is weeded out of during the 4 years of training. Some of those risks survived the academic requirements and turned out to be among the best leaders of my class. Not every cadet that graduates from West Point is going to be a general or a CEO but many of those will still have an education and experience that will make them great managers and engineers in the corporate world. I agree that the minimum standard should be set so that once he/she (athlete) graduates that they have the ability to function as a leader in today’s army. So yes, I’m okay with taking a ‘chance’ on lesser qualified athletes to a certain point. And I certainly hope that the new coach from Georgia Southern can instill a discipline and fight into the football team that will make us more competitive with Navy and Air Force. I am beyond tired of losing to the junior academies. There are a ton of issues inside the athletic department/West Point culture that need to be addressed before we start lowering our academic standards and I’m hopeful that with the current superintendent and the new football staff we can start making those changes ASAP.
      Go Army! Beat Navy!

  4. Go Dawgs!

    Hell no.

    Navy can do it. So can you, Army.

    Football is not important enough to literally compromise the safety of our fighting men and women by putting them in position to be led by incompetent officers who happened to be talented football players.

  5. hunkerdowndawg

    It’s critically important that Navy keep the streak alive TIAR,B! Thirteen.

  6. fatman48

    I didn’t think you could be recruited into the Academies, the Naval Academy and West Point are by Appointment only.

  7. Spike

    In a word. No.