Gridiron Hype

In nail-biting tradition, Navy pulled off a come-from-behind victory at the annual adrenaline rush, the Army-Navy Game. Navy’s triumph stopped cold any Army bowl dreams.

While we are exaggerating, there is little honor in the mainstream media and even less among sports writers. At Saturday’s 110th playing of the Army-Navy Football Fete, yes, Navy came from behind. The Midshipmen were down a whopping 3- zip at half time. (Judging from the articles, writers were so bored they had to create excitement through the clichéd word picture.)

Navy scored 17 points in the second half holding Army to its sole field goal.

It’s Army’s bowl bid that’s curious. It had been set in advance with EagleBank Bowl (who knew?) organizers. In setting the bar as low as possible, Army only needed a winning season and the cadets would take the field against Temple (9-3) in Washington, D.C. (The venue? Gangland’s RFK Stadium.) Army’s record was 5-6 going into the famed match-up. In the end the Cadets would leave with a 5-7 record. Even that bar was too low for EagleBank.

Ah, enter Plan B:

“The Conference USA agreement, a one-year deal, provides stability in case Army doesn’t record its first winning season since 1996. If the Black Knights’ struggles continue, the EagleBank Bowl will have the ability to invite East Carolina, Central Florida, Marshall, Memphis, Southern Mississippi or UAB without needing to scramble to find an additional team,”  so who grabbed Army’s slot? No team from the intriguing Conference USA, but Pac-10’s UCLA made the cut, sitting with an anemic 6-6 season.

As late as Dec. 3, there were reports that Conference USA teams, along with UCLA and— get this—a gasping Notre Dame were under consideration. (People will flock to see even faded gridiron legends.)

Reports from the West say UCLA was eager to make it back into the post season. (Apparently pride was not an issue.) UCLA is now Navy’s biggest fan. This will be the Bruin’s first East Coast game in 11 years.

After all the drama, the EagleBank Bowl, in its second year, may be the winner. UCLA commands the nation’s second largest media market; Philly’s Temple, the fourth. (Cha-ching.) D.C. may be ambivalent (ok, weird) when it comes to sports, but the nation’s capital itself is a draw for fans as well as crime enthusiasts.

Navy meets Missouri in the Texas Bowl New Year’s Eve in Houston. Both teams are 8-4. The first Texas Bowl was played in 2006.

Is anyone still reading?

Recent Posts