Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Call to Arms Rules Test Coaches at Service Academies

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Call to Arms Rules Test Coaches at Service Academies

Article excerpt

At a glance, it might be confounding that the U.S. service academies are perennial football jugger-not rather than juggernauts.

"In your future as an officer, you're going to be in charge of human life - and doing a good job isn't enough, it's about being exact," said Bob Sutton, coach of the U.S. Military Academy (Army) coach. "As a daily way of living, that translates to football.

"It's part of the way our players have to do things. And it's easy for them to understand the concept of team. Everything you do here, you're part of a team." Said Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry: "There's a great respect for football here, and football is very important because it's the No. 1 training laboratory we've got." Yet there are abundant reasons Army, Navy and Air Force seldom have been simultaneously competitive in recent college football history - and abundant reasons to salute their collective 17-3 record this season. The last time all three had .500 or better records in one season was 1963, when Navy's Roger Staubach became the last academy player to win the Heisman Trophy. Among the deterrents are the gantlet of recruiting limitations. Each football recruit must receive a Congressional appointment, then is obligated to give five years to his service branch after graduation. Redshirting and junior-college recruiting are forbidden. The course load is rigorous, if not intimidating. Oh, and then there's that meddlesome discipline. Consider the following report, from the new John Feinstein book, "A Civil War," issued on former Army football player Jim Cantelupe's room after he neglected to tidy up one morning: "Unsecured footlockers, wet sink/stopper up, dirty mirror, too many civilian clothes on display, house shoes not aligned (by his roommate, Kevi n Norman), boodle boxes improperly displayed, bed improperly made, window still cluttered and covered with food, windows open from the bottom, books not properly stored in book cases, vitamins not locked away, civilian articles hidden in green girls (West Point nickname for the green blankets on the beds), dusty shoes under bed, unshined and disreputable shoes under bed (Norman), dusty work areas, floor not swept under desks, too many civilian hats displayed, too many civilian shoes in coat closet, hangers not spaced properly in coat closet, short overcoats not sent out for re-striping." With all these obstacles, then, why the resurgence? Good coaching from men - DeBerry, Sutton and Navy coach Charlie Weatherbie - who understand the intricacies of academy life. That's one of the reasons why all three are committed to an option offense, which relies more on execution than athleticism and is difficult to prepare for. Scheduling: Air Force (5-2) plays in the Western Athletic Conference and defeated Notre Dame earlier this season. …

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