Copyright 2013 by John T. Reed

3-9 Army lost to Navy for the 12th consecutive time yesterday 34-7.

Why is this game still on TV? The Navy-Air Force game almost invariably features better competition. Unfortunately, that’s not saying much.

If it were boxing, the Army football team would not be allowed to compete against Navy football because they would not be at the same skill level.

In many sports leagues, Army would be forced out of the league for failure to be adequately competitive.

I am guessing that Coach Ellerson who is 20-41 at Army will be fired. While you’re at it, fire all the people who decided to hire him, too.

Ellerson fired

[Hours after I wrote that, I got an email saying the current Superintendent and Athletic Director had fired Coach Ellerson. Unfortunately, the email had nothing to indicate this search for a new coach will be any different from the last five such searches or produce any different result. Here are two key sentences from the Supe’s email:

In preparation for a possible move, we have and will continue to consult with former coaches and players who participated in winning programs, and have also carefully reviewed the input of many graduates whose recommendations and observations have been appreciated. Substantive work has already begun on a comprehensive, national basis to identify a pool of very impressive candidates.

“Possible?” I guess he means they had been getting ready to replace the coach before the game started. The rest of this sentence speaks of the same old, inbred, if-it’s-not-invented-here-we-won’t-consider-it, West-Pointers-only input that they have limited efforts to in the past. I hope they will seek advice from beyond the West Point community. Maybe they are. But the email almost seems to rule it out. Reminds me of that definition of insanity: expecting the same old inputs will somehow produce different outputs. It is a deus ex machina approach, not rational, logical analysis and appropriate modification of the failed policies of the past.]

Coaching as evidenced by the game

I saw some good tackling by Army yesterday. Not the whole game, mostly at the beginning. Later ,the Army tacklers seemed to have given up and went back to their past habits of leaving their feet and not wrapping. Basic stuff.

One manifestation that Army was out-coached was that Navy only had one penalty—illegal procedure or holding. Army had at least three 15-yard-penalties two for unsportsmanlike conduct or personal fouls—after-the-whistle stuff. Poor coaching.

In the second half, I commented to the West Point classmate with whom I was watching the the game that Army needed to score so many points to catch up in a short period—about 20 minutes,—that they could only run plays likely to gain around 8 or 9 yards per play. To an extent, they did that and got their only scoring drive of the day. They also later went for it on fourth down, but did not get it.

So I saw some willingness to take risks to try to win. One of my pet peeves is coaches who are behind in the second half running plays they know will not win but that will be less likely to lose worse. To win when you are behind, you have to risk losing by a bigger margin than if you keep running conservative plays. Ellerson did risk losing worse to an extent. Mildly good for him.

Triple-opton basics

When Ellerson was hired at Army, he said he was a triple-option coach. I thought that was a good thing because Army needs some sort of contrarian scheme to equalize itself to opponents with fewer recruiting disadvantages.

But in the 12/14/13 Army-Navy Game, it appeared that Ellerson and his players had forgotten the most basic principle of the triple option: that the key must never be able to tackle the ball carrier.

In the triple-option, the quarterback takes the snap then puts the ball against the belly of the dive back while looking at the dive key. The dive key is a defensive lineman who would tackle the dive back if he had the ball. If the QB sees the dive key is coming for the dive back, he pulls the ball out. Army QB Trent Steelman not doing that soon enough caused the disastrous fumble at the end of the 2012 Army-Navy Game. If the dive key indicates he is not going to tackle the dive back, the QB gives the dive back the ball. Whatever the key does is “wrong” is what the coaches tell the option team players.

After the dive fake, the QB continues toward the outside of the box now looking at the pitch key. The pitch key is typically the playside defensive end. At the beginning of the play, the pitch back gets into pitch relationship with the QB. Some coaches say that is 4 yards out side and 4 yards behind the QB depth-wise. Others say 5 yards outside and 2 yards deeper than the QB. Whatever the exact dimensions of the pitch relationship, the basic principle is the pitch back must be so far away from the QB that no one player can stop both of them.

As the 2013 Army-Navy Game unfolded, I complained to my hosts that the pitch back was not getting into pitch relationship. Mainly he was too close to the QB and often he seemed to be directly behind him. I finally wondered out loud why the TV announcers were not commenting on that. About two seconds later, one did with words to the effect that, “On that play, the pitch key tackled the pitch back. You cannot run the option successfully if you allow that to happen.”

Absolutely correct. The whole idea of the option is the two keys must never be allowed to tackle the actual ball carrier. The QB and pitch back must be sufficiently far apart and at different longitudes on the field that the pitch key has to commit to one or the other. When he does, the QB’s job is to make sure the key cannot make the tackle by making sure the guy who has the ball is NOT the one the key committed to. But that is impossible if the pitch back does not get and maintain adequate pitch relationship and distance from the QB. Time and again in the 2013 Army-Navy Game, Army’s pitch back was way too close to the QB—it looked like about two feet at times! It was never corrected.

That is the kind of mistake you would expect an inexperienced youth coach to make. If a high school freshman or JV coach allowed that to happen, he would get his ass chewed by the varsity coach and fired if he did not correct it.

Army was second in the nation in rushing yards per game in 2013, which means they must have had proper pitch relationship then. But they sure as hell did not have it much of the time on Saturday. I have no idea why.

What happened to Army’s ‘Rudy’ during the game?

In the pre-game show they made a big fuss about an Army benchwarmer #45 who seemed destined to never play in a game—just on scout team. During the 2013 season he had finally broken into the Army lineup making an amazing 14 tackles against Temple. In other words, he was Army’s Rudy, only with more playing time.

So we spent the whole game looking for him on defense. No #45. Finally, on the last three plays of the game he played fullback and had two good carries against Navy’s scout team players.

I don’t think they will be making a movie about him.

Next stop, combat?

The announcers kept saying these seniors on both teams are playing in their last game before they go off to war.

Not so. Navy plays in the Armed Forces Bowl on 12/30/13. Plus, the cadets and midshipmen get to choose their branch, what post academy military schools school they attend, and their first assignments I believe. The doesn’t-fit-the-hype, dirty little secret is at both academies, a great many football seniors choose combat-avoiding branches, schools, and first assignments. I chose Signal Corps (communications) which was considered a combat arm then which meant that by choosing Signal I had to go to Army Ranger School. That was so awful and dangerous that if I had it to do over, I would have chosen Air Defense Artillery which was the only branch I could have chosen that would have let me avoid Ranger School.

We also could choose our first assignment. I chose the 82nd Airborne Division. That, in turn, meant I could go to airborne school (paratrooper training) and that I would be at the 82nd for four months after which I would be ordered to Vietnam. That is exactly what happened. If I had that to do over, I would have chosen Germany as my first assignment because they had an officer shortage and because the Vietnam war turned out to be an idiotic venture where you were risking your life for nothing. We were told we were risking our lives to keep South Vietnam from becoming Communist. It is now Communist.

So I am not anti-avoiding combat any more, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan where once again we seem unwilling to adopt the strategies and rules of engagement needed to win. But I am anti-hype that all the senior Army-Navy Game football players are going off to war like John Wayne. The hell they are. Most are quite sensibly avoiding the branches, schools, and assignments that involve infantry-like combat. A few are living up to the hype and choosing infantry or marines. Unfortunately, I suspect they are living up to the hype because of the hype. I guess there are good reasons to choose infantry or marines, but living up to TV announcer hype is not one of them. Following the example of the announcers—who sure as hell never let themselves get within 10,000 miles of a combat job—makes more common sense.

The march on

They broadcast the march on of the cadets and midshipmen hours before the game itself. I DVRed it and watched it later. March on refers to the entire student bodies of the two school marching in parade-like fashion onto the field before they go up into the stands to watch the game.

They squeezed the cadet companies through a too-small opening to start. They were squished into a distorted formation. Also, toward the end, they had to walk past parts of the formation already on the field and got squished again such that they had to break formation then reassemble on the run. We had no such problems neither marching into JFK Memorial Stadium in Philadelphia four times when I was a cadet, nor in the other stadiums I marched into then: Yankee Stadium, Rutgers Stadium, Soldiers Field in Chicago, and Pitt stadium. We had fewer cadets the first year, after that, I guess it was just bigger outside-the-playing field fields.

“The Corps has” is a well-known saying among West Pointers. It is short for “The Corps of Cadets has gone to hell.” The Corps of Cadets is the student body at West Point. Gone to hell means the standards there are much lower now “than when I was a cadet”. Old grads were saying it when I was born, when I was a cadet and ever since.

The 2013 Army-Navy march on provided evidence that it’s true. I have commented in the past that we cadets were known for looking good but that one of our secrets for accomplishing that was we were generally only seen by the public from afar. And that included the march ons in the 1960s. No more. Now they have close up cameras operated by cameramen running around among the cadets during the march on. Not good for maintaining West Point mystique.

The cadets kept their promise. You keep your distance.

Some cadets were looking down during the march on. Maybe I am suffering from the T-shirt slogan, “The older I get, the better I was,” but my recollection was that we were trained to look straight ahead, and did, especially when the GAP (Great American Public) was so near. You get all the data you need from looking at the shoulders and head of the guy in front of you. You do not need to look at his feet. You know they are directly under his shoulders.

As a baseball coach, I found myself constantly barking a base runners who had taken a lead off a base to stop shooting glances back at the base. “It’s right where you left it! Keep your eyes on the pitcher at all times. If he throws to your base while you are looking at it, you will be late diving back and get tagged out!” (See my books Youth Baseball Coaching, 3rd edition and Coaching Teenage and Adult Baseball at Same deal in marching. The ground is right where you left it and the feet of the cadet in front of you are under his shoulders.

There are also some cartoonishly fat cadets. We had fat-table guys who had to eat at special mess hall tables, but they were not allowed to get as fat as some of today’s cadets. If you got that fat at West Point in the 1960s, you’d better lose it real fast or you would be gone. No longer. I think West Point is afraid to throw anyone out for not meeting standards for fear it will lower their ranking in the college guides. Part of the ranking is percentage of cadets who graduate after entering. It used to be one of West Point’s claims to fame was that percentage was relatively low because of the constant high standards there. To an extent, West Point is now being run by U.S. News and the other college rating publications.

I commented in a prior post about cadets not having the required “two fingers” between the top of their nose and the bill of their hat. It looked like maybe 40% of the cadets were wearing their hats too high on their forehead. When they showed close-ups of a rank of cadets, even laymen could seen the lack of uniformity. I think wearing a uniform to go to college and on weekends during your free time at your college is chickenshit. But if you are going to wear the uniform, do it right, including achieving a uniform appearance with regard to hat position, especially when you are in formation on national television. Again, maybe video of our march ons back in the mid ’60s would show us not doing that, but I doubt it.

Some cadets were wearing sun glasses. I pause while I and other old grads get over the shock of that sentence. I am not even sure that was prohibited by regulation back then. I think it was like not raping the supe’s daughter—understood without needing to be said. Later, in the stands, they had their sun glasses—often with mirrored lenses—hanging from the front of their long overcoats by sticking one of the ear pieces through a button hole! This is the kind of stuff current cadets laugh at old grads about. Once again, I think wearing uniforms to activities like class, weekend free time, and sports events is chickenshit, but if you’re going to do it, do it right. You don’t need to look like a slob if you wear civilian clothes to a football game and wearing sunglasses on the back of your head or hanging from a civilian clothes button hole would not make you look like a slob. But it does when you are wearing a West Point cadet uniform which has long been uniquely simple and uncluttered. “Uniform” is both a noun and an adjective.

They had a cadet announcer read the names, ranks, and home towns of the cadet company commanders and higher ranking cadets. I surmise someone at West Point thinks that cadet has a good announcer voice. He should not quit his day job. He sound to me like he had too many marbles in his mouth.

They did this back in the day, although I think they used real announcers to do it. Also, with regard to companies, I believe they just said the name, rank, and home town of the cadet company commander. This guy in 2013 was also giving that info on the cadet company first sergeant!

Say what!?


And he was deliberately mispronouncing the word sergeant saying “sar’nt” instead. I saw a West Point grad officer say that once recently in a TV interview.

I think I know what’s going on here. Officers are big on saying pro forma that sergeants are “the backbone of the Army.”

After being in the Army for four years, I would say sergeants as a group are sort of like the Mafia and officers are sort of like the mafia’s lawyers. Also, as a group, the enlisted men hated the officers as a group. The officers as a group sort of regarded the enlisted men like the downstairs employees in the BBC series “Upstairs Downstairs.”

We were explicitly told NOT to talk like enlisted men at West Point. For example, NCOs have a whole other language especially in giving commands. They often give the command “Attention” as “Ten Hut!” We were ordered to enunciate it as “Atten Shun!” The habit of enunciating commands has a combat value. It avoids misunderstanding which can get people killed. As a football coach, I often demanded my QBs and middle linebackers enunciate their calisthenics commands, snap cadence, defense, and audibles to avoid misunderstanding and to get a snappier response. Enunciating the actual word rather than creating slurred new versions of it is correct. Slurring is incorrect, not just for show like uniforms, but for functionality.

Army enlisted men have gotten into the habit of saying “sar’nt,” so now officers, who should know better and set a better example, are copying the enlisted men I guess to show respect for their way of doing things.

This reminds me of the Castilian lisp. In Spain, where they speak a version of Spanish called Castilian, they pronounce “Gracias” as “Grathias.” Reportedly the reason is a Spanish king centuries ago spoke with a lisp. Because he was the boss, everyone in the country did the same out of fear that not doing that would be considered a reproach of the king. I guess the Spanish are lucky he did not also walk with a limp. Apparently that is the same mind-set at work in the 2013 U.S. Army officer corps switching to slurring words, e.g., “sar’nt.” Only they are following the lead of the Army’s cretins, not its king!


Stupid. There may be some things that NCOs do better that officers should emulate, but slurring words is not one of them.

I’m number 10

Also, how the hell does the cadet company first sergeant rate getting his info announced? He is outranked in the company by the company executive officer, the company platoon leaders, and the company staff officers. Again, I think the brass is going way out of their way to show exaggerated respect for the “backbone of the Army.”

Do they think the enlisted people in the Army do not know that all cadets at West Point are training to be officers and that the cadet first sergeants are not the back bone of anything. They are just senior cadets whose performance in the popularity contest that awards cadet rank was below that of about eight or ten of their classmates in the company. The cadet company commander and cadet company first sergeant are the cadets in that company who ranked 1st and 10th in popularity (not counting cadets from that company who were moved out of the company to battalion or higher staff). Why the hell would you announce the 1st and 10th guy instead of the first and second, or as was done in the mid-sixties, just the company commander? Apparently it’s an absurd pander to the enlisted men watching the game on TV.

The “sar’nts” of the battalion and higher cadet staffs were said to be “Command sar’nt majors.” You have got to be kidding me. That is a rank that was invented when I was in the Army to create a super sergeant who ranked above sergeant major. It is for gray-haired guys on the eve or retirement. Using the same terminology on cadets who are below shave-tail, wet-behind-the-ears, brand new second lieutenants is ridiculous and another pander. And announcing their names during the Army-Navy march on is yet another reaching down to a much lower rank for no apparent reason other than to pander to ignorant enlisted men who may think there truly is a command sergeant major equivalent in the West Point cadet chain of command.

Superintendent of the year

Recent West Point Superintendent General Hoontoon retired after about three years. Here is an article discussing the somewhat conflicting reports of the Pentagon and the Army about why Hoontoon retired out of the supe’s job. Whatever the truth is, the fact is the head guy at West Point is a temp. So are the professors and tactical officers and active duty administrators. For active duty personnel stationed at West Point, it’s just another Army assignment. They rotate out in one to three years it seems.

Department heads are an exception, but I don’t think even they last as long as their counterparts at civilian colleges.

Last strong winning percentage coach left in 1959

Except for 2010, Ellerson’s second season at Army, West Point football has not had a winning record since 1996 under Bob Sutton. Sutton, who was fired by Army apparently for running the triple option, is now the defensive coordinator at the Chiefs. The last winning coach at Army was Jim Young from 1983 to 1990—winning percentage of .566.

Before Young, the Army coaches were a string of break-even or losing coaches until you get back to Earl Blaik who had the advantage of coaching Army during World War II, a time when cadets ironically were, along with Annapolis midshipmen, the only college football players in America who could not be drafted. Blaik’s winning percentage from 1941 to 1959 was .768.

Whatcha gonna do now, ranger?

The big questions for Army football are:

1. Does Army still have any hope to compete at the FBS level?

2. If so, how, because they have rarely been competitive since the 1980s?

3. If they have no hope of ever being competitive at the FBS level, will they ever have leaders who will have the guts to ask the NCAA to let them compete in football at a lower level? (For example, Johns Hopkins recruited my son to play football for them. They are high academic standards Division III in football, but Division I in Lacrosse. Their Division III football team plays its games on the Division I lacrosse field in the big-time lacrosse stadium.)

Not room enough in this country for three FBS service academies

I think there are still enough idealistic, spartan young men in America to staff one, maybe two, FBS-competitive service academy football teams. So then the question is how does Army get out of last place in the Commander-in-Chief’s cup competition (best service academy football record playing against the other two major service academies)?

How about a non-temp taking charge of the long-term Army football winning percentage?

They need to have someone at West Point responsible for the long-term success of Army football. In the NFL, this role is played by the owners; in college, by the president; and in high school, by the principal or school superintendent.

At West Pointbunch of temps, each of whom can blame their predecessor for hiring a lousy coach and most of whom can claim “We fired that coach,” is not getting it done. There is no one to blame, no one accountable, for the hiring of a consistent string of five losing coaches over the last quarter century. And since no one gets in trouble for hiring five poor coaches in a row, there is no reason to believe Army won’t hire five more such coaches in the next quarter century. It’s a nest of politicians. “Mistakes were made” and low-level civilians, a.k.a. head football coaches, were fired but none of the military personnel who hired one losing coach after another ever suffered for it or even got named as being responsible for it.

To put it another way, there is no one in the military chain of command at West Point who ever hired more than one of the five losing coaches. The five coaches were hired, but the answer to who is responsible for hiring 25 years of bad coaches is no one. Which means they have no qualms about hiring another five.

When no one is responsible for making sure Army is competitive in football long-term, no one is also exactly who will fix it.

Bobby and Coach K

When I arrived at West Point as a new cadet on July 1, 1964, our basketball coach was a young, aggressive, willing-to-do-whatever-it-took ethically guy who emphasized defense because Army could not recruit the sort of basketball players other schools could. His name was Bobby Knight. He is in the College basketball Hall of Fame. A cadet in the class behind me was coached by Knight, was an assistant to Knight, and later coached Army basketball successfully going 73-59 before leaving to become head coach at Duke. His name is Mike Krzyzewski and he is also in the college basketball Hall of Fame.

Are there football versions of Bobby Knight and Coach K out there? Yes. Can Army hire them? If they are young and not yet recognized. A young coach trying to make his mark would get more media attention at FBS Army than at most lower level schools. He could use Army to move on to bigger things or maybe stay at Army for his whole career if they kept him happy. It is not all bad as a place to live and work.

But Army has been an elephant’s graveyard of football coaches lately. So you would need young coach either too dumb to recognize the high risk, or so self-confident he figured he could win there in spite of the long list of coaches who could not. Turning around Army at this point would be a far more impressive coaching accomplishment than going to a less hapless team with a higher winning percentage.

Does such a coach exist? Maybe? Can Army hire him? Maybe.

Inbred, not-invented-here-not-welcome-here mind-set

What should Army do? First, stop doing what West Point always does: look for the best West Point grad available to accomplish a difficult mission instead of the best person. West Point would rather keep losing than admit it needs help from a non-West Pointer. Look at the head coach yesterday. Some of the reasons cited for hiring Ellerson when he was hired were that he was a former (quit, flunked out, or was discharged against his will—I don’t know which) Annapolis midshipman, brother of two past West Pointers including one Army football team captain, and the son of a career Army officer West Point graduate which means he grew up on various Army posts. At the time he was hired, I complained that these family considerations were utterly irrelevant to whether he should have been hired or whether he would succeed as Army’s coach.


Today’s Sports Illustrated Web site says of the search for a new coach:

Look for Ellerson's potential replacement to have experience at Army from stronger football eras there. Some names with West Point ties include Ohio State co-offensive coordinator Ed Warinner, New York Jets special teams coach Ben Kotwica, Vanderbilt defensive coordinator Bob Shoop, UCF offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe and Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan. [Emphasis added by me—just what we need, another inbred coach search limited to coaches with past conections to West Point. When do they figure out we need all the help we can get, not just all the West Point-related help we can get?]

Read More:

The best, not the best with West Point connections

The top football coaches in America—most of whom have never had anything to do with West Point—who were willing to help, could identify a handful of young, up-and-coming, willing-to-be-innovative-and-different coaches. West Point could then try to hire one of them.

Or drop to a lower level

If they were unable to do it, they should run up the white flag on FBS football and ask NCAA to let them move to a lower level for that sport. This would mean ending the Army-Navy and Army-Air Force series. Hey! There are only about two teams worth of FBS level high school players in America willing to go to the service academies. One of the three big academies has to bow out and there can be little doubt that academy is currently Army.

Which lower level? West Pointers often talk about the Ivy League. Forget about it. My son was a tailback at Ivy League Columbia from 1999 to 2003. My wife and I are Harvard MBAs (’77 and ’78). The faculty and students in the Ivy League by and large hate the military and the service academies. Do they deny it? Yep. But it’s true. Ask an Ivy League football player.

Not smart enough for the Ivy League

Also, the service academies have significantly lower academic standards than the Ivies. So Army wold have a big competitive advantage in football being able to bring in relative dummies that the Ivies are not allowed to recruit. For old West Point grads who are certain that West Pointers are the academic equivalent of Ivy Leaguers, get a current college guide and compare the average SAT scores at the Ivies with those at West Point. Last time I checked West Point was about 200 or 300 points below the Ivies! West Point’s SAT scores were about the same as Skidmore College, Yeshiva University and the University of Maryland at College Park.


Sorry for the blow to the egos of my fellow Long Gray Line members, but the old Gray Line she ain’t what she used to be. They are into diversity there now, not excellence. They are more interested in having the right mix of LBGT cadets on the football team than in having the best players and coaches. Like I said above. West Point has become a nest of politicians.

I will use the old terminology because I cannot find a decent explanation of the new. The service academies and other major teams are Division I-A. Army might more accurately be called Division I-a. Then there is Division I-AA which includes the Ivies technically but because of high academic standards, they are less competitive than the rest of I-AA which has lower standards and partial athletic scholarships.

Then there is Division II. I am fuzzy on the distinction between I-AA and II.

Could Army at present compete with I-AA or II type teams? A. Maybe not and B. certainly not after losing the ability to claim to be I-A when recruiting.

What about Division III? They might have trouble winning the Division III championship against the likes of Mount Union (which has at least one player in the NFL). Army might be too strong for Division III high academic like Williams and Amherst.

So what level should they go to? Keep dropping down a level until they can compete.

Will that be embarrassing? Yeah, but not as embarrassing as getting their asses kicked by Navy every year.

Living a lie

Fundamentally, Army claims to be on a par with Navy in football. It’s a lie. West Point also claims to have an Honor Code that says a cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal. WTF?

Either hire a great, we-knew-him-when, unknown, young, innovative, fearless coach—or knock off the impostor act and drop down to the level at which you stop making fools of yourselves.

Update: Jeff Monken hired on Christmas Eve

I recently said my alma mater Army needed to hire a young, not yet-discovered, highly innovative, and fearless football coach. They hired Jeff Monken. His attraction to Army appears to be that he is a guy who learned how to run the triple option as a position coach from Former Hawaii/Georgia Southern/Navy coach Paul Johnson who is currently head coach at Georgia Tech.

Monken is leaving the head coach position at Georgia Southern where he went to the FCS semifinals three years in a row. This season, his team there converted from FCS to the higher FBS level. Army is FBS, technically if not in any other sense. As an FBS team, Monken had his worst season at Georgia Southern going 4-4 in conference and 7-4 overall.

I do not get why he would leaves FBS Georgia Southern (7-4) to go to FBS Army (3-9). Is he innovative? The root “nov” in the word innovate comes from the Latin for “new.” The triple option was new in the 1950s with the split T. It came back into fashion with the wishbone in the 1970s, and the service academies have been running it since the early 80s.

Is he what I described Army as needing? If so, it is not apparent from his Wikipedia bio. He is neither as young as I had in mind, nor as undiscovered, nor as innovative, nor as fearless. Maybe he will grow into that. His quote upon being hired at Army was, “I am honored and humbled.”

Not as humbled as you’re going to be after going 10-38 over the next four years before you get fired.

“Give the guy a chance,” someone’s going to tell me. “Be positive.” You mean like I’m some corporate, plays-well-with-others, cliche-spouting, go-along-to-get-along, organization man? Not gonna happen. My role is to try to slap a 2x4 up side his head to get through to him ASAP that just running the Paul Johnson option—which is what Navy runs with another Paul Johnson former assistant—probably is not going to be enough to raise Army to .500 in FBS competition.

Part of the problem is Army has such a long-time bad rep as a football program that they need a plausible recruiting story to persuade recruits they are coming to a whole new Army team. Replacing fired former Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, FCS, .622 winning percentage, triple-option coach coach Ellerson with former Georgia Southern, FCS, .704 winning percentage, triple-option coach Jeff Monken does NOT plausibly prove it will be a whole new Army team.

I think the academies have to have the triple-option, but that alone has not been enough to be competitive in the FBS or in commander-in-chief trophy competition for many years. In short, I think Army has to get more contrarian than just the triple-option and Monken does not appear to be such a coach. I doubt the kind of people who make these decisions are capable of being contrarian enough to give Army a chance to win. Hiring a fearless coach requires that the hirers are also fearless—not afraid of being blamed if a contrarian coach’s approach doesn’t work. The U.S. Army has not attracted or retained such people since World War II.

John T. Reed