UNAPPRECIATED WARRIORS

Graduation is a special time at any school, but at the nation’s service academies it takes on an even greater significance. It is more than just the culmination of four years of academic work. Graduates not only receive their degree, they also receive their commissions as officers in the Navy, Marine Corps, Army, or Air Force. On that day, these young Ensigns and 2nd Lieutenants will set out to do the work that the American people paid to train them to do. Some of them will become aviators. Some will hit the ground and go into armor, infantry, or artillery. Others will take to the seas on warships deployed around the world. A few more newly-minted officers will find their way into roles that directly support those on the front line, such as in intelligence or supply. There are a number of ways to serve.

Each of these pursuits can be arduous at times, with dangerous tasks to be completed on long deployments away from home. But the work can also be as rewarding as it is difficult. There is a special satisfaction that comes from knowing the importance of what you’re doing. The American people know how important it is, too. These aviators, soldiers, and sailors are among the most celebrated figures in American society. There are organizations like the USO that support them. Hollywood tells tales of their exploits. We have national holidays to honor them. America appreciates what it takes to defend itself, which is why it pays for service academies; a top-notch education is worth paying for if it results in men and women willing to commit to one of these challenging careers.

Sadly, some of those in uniform aren’t shown the same appreciation as the rest. They toil in virtual anonymity, their contributions unknown to the general public. The work they do is vital to the defense of this nation, yet they have nobody to tell their story… until now. I am proud to use my little corner of the internet to bring attention to these distinguished service academy graduates who make the most of their four years of military training. So read on as I pay homage to the best of the best: Air Force football coaches.

If you thought Fallujah was hard,
try two-a-days!

Their records speak for themselves:

  • Head coach Troy Calhoun graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1989. Of his six years of active duty in the Air Force, four were spent as an academy football coach. From 1989-1990 he was a graduate assistant for Fisher DeBerry. From 1993-1994 he was DeBerry’s recruiting coordinator.
  • Blane Morgan is the quarterbacks coach for the Falcons. He graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1999 and spent the next year as a graduate assistant. After spending 2 1/2 years doing less important work at Laughlin AFB, he returned to the academy in 2003 to complete his active duty obligation as the wide receivers coach and an assistant coach for the junior varsity team.
  • Running backs coach Jemal Singleton is a classmate of Morgan’s. He spent two years of his active duty obligation at Little Rock AFB. The rest was spent in Colorado Springs working in the athletic department, and as an assistant coach with the USAFA Prep School, junior varsity, and varsity football teams.
  • Mike Thiessen graduated from USAFA in 2001 and remains on active duty while coaching the team’s wide receivers. Thiessen not only carries out this daring mission as a coach, but he had the unique opportunity to defend the Constitution by playing minor league baseball. Through the Air Force’s vital World Class Athlete Program, Thiessen more than repaid the taxpayer’s cost of his education by hitting .278 for the Lancaster JetHawks. If that wasn’t already of incalculable benefit to the American people, the former Falcon quarterback also spent the three seasons prior to 2007 as the offensive coordinator at the prep school.
  • Joining Thiessen on active duty is Charlton Warren, another 1999 academy graduate. Capt. Warren is the least accomplished of this elite military unit, having spent the majority of his military career doing things other than football, and in places other than Colorado Springs. Fortunately for you & me, though, he’s back serving where America needs him most: as the Air Force secondary coach.
  • Tight ends coach Ben Miller is a real hero. I’m not sure if he wasted any time on active duty at all. Following his 2002 graduation, Miller signed with the Cleveland Browns. He spent 2005 as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles’ practice squad, and in 2006 was a graduate assistant at Illinois.
  • Brian Knorr, a 1986 grad who coached linebackers at Air Force, was hired away this week by Jim Grobe at Wake Forest. Knorr should feel right at home in Winston-Salem, though, as he will be joined by another group of Air Force Academy patriots. Steed Lobotzke, the Demon Deacons’ offensive coordinator, is a 1992 graduate of the Air Force Academy that jumpstarted his military career with a two-year graduate assistant job immediately following graduation. Another new Wake Forest assistant, Steve Russ, is a 1995 Air Force graduate who, like Ben Miller, didn’t bother with the hassles of active duty military service. Instead, Russ went straight into the NFL. After spending 5 years with the Denver Broncos, Russ began his college coaching career at Ohio, where Knorr was head coach in 2001.

One would think that such an awe-inspiring collection of military might would be sure to make headlines, yet the American taxpayer never seems to hear about the fruits of their valuable investment. I know… Crazy, right? Especially when you consider how many Air Force football coaches spend their active duty time in public affairs when they aren’t coaching. But the Air Force Academy, unlike Annapolis and West Point, doesn’t release the service assignments of their graduating seniors. Why they would keep this information to themselves, I have no idea. But America should know when one of their service academies is producing this kind of excellence.

Any Air Force fan can tell you the obvious benefit to our nation’s security that comes from active duty football coaches. You see, the Air Force Academy is the most difficult of the service academies by a mile. It really isn’t even close. In order for cadets to have a chance to make it through the grueling 4-year pressure cooker that is the Air Force Academy experience, they need mentors. These mentors work best when they aren’t tainted with too much exposure to the, you know, Air Force. Their minds need to be sharpened, fresh with the memories of what it took to survive such an ordeal as found in Colorado Springs. That’s where these football coaches come in. Unencumbered with the fetters of actual operational experience, only they can deliver the kind of leadership that cadets need to make it through. Unconvinced? Navy’s APR score in the last NCAA report was 982. Even with their elite cadre of mentors, Air Force’s score was lower– 975. Imagine how low it would be without football coaches on active duty! The higher attrition clearly shows how much harder it is at Air Force! And just having a graduate assistant or two stick around for a few months while he waits for a spot at flight training (or another service school) doesn’t cut it. Unlike the Army and Navy, the Air Force needs officers whose military careers are dedicated to mentorship. They also need graduates who don’t serve a day on active duty, and instead go straight into the NFL. Because the NFL and minor league baseball, as we all know, prepares someone to lead cadets far better than operational Air Force experience.

Now that you know how crucial it is for Air Force grads to embark on a coaching career immediately upon graduating, you can understand my befuddlement when it comes to the lack of recognition that these warriors of the clipboard receive. But as any good Air Force football-trained leader will tell you, it isn’t enough to just complain. If you see a problem, point it out and offer a solution. So that’s what I’m going to do. The first step in getting our heroes recognized would be for the Air Force Academy to release the service selection information of its graduating football class. Shout it from the top of Pikes Peak! “We need mentors for our football team so we can produce more mentors for future football teams!” It’s hard to imagine a better use of service academy graduates than a self-sustaining pipeline of mentorship without any significant operational service.

The second step we can take is to create a piece of uniform insignia so that fellow airmen know when they are in the presence of the elite. Something should set these leaders apart. Why should pilots get wings while these highly trained officers go unrecognized? If I may be so bold, I have a suggestion for this badge of honor:

Nothing says “airpower through the intricacies of zone blocking” quite like a winged football. One look at this, and Hollywood will know that there’s a story to be told here. Imagine the possibilities… “You want me on that sideline. You need me on that sideline!” Finally, we’ll have an Air Force movie to compete with the cinematic masterpiece that is Iron Eagle.

It’s hard to believe, but there are actually people who don’t think that it’s appropriate for service academy graduates to spend their active duty careers as football coaches. How dare any of you think that way. For shame. Air Force fans have taught us a great lesson; the job that you do isn’t important. What matters is the clothes that you wear while you do it! Anything done in a uniform must be mission essential. If it wasn’t, then nobody would do it! Duh. And if it’s mission essential, who better than an academy grad to do the job? I mean come on, if you can’t trust the U.S. Air Force, an agency of the federal government, to make good use of your money– then who can you trust?

If only she was in an Air Force uniform.
Then it’d be as valuable as storming the beach at Normandy!

Now, I know that I rub some people the wrong way by placing these coaches on a pedestal. All service is valuable, you might be thinking. It isn’t appropriate to “rank” the service of various Air Force Academy graduates. Well, you’re wrong. The fact is that service gets ranked every single time someone’s record appears before a promotion board. And you and I both know that assignments as a football coach are a bullet train to General. All you have to do is compare the bios of the two active duty Captains on the Air Force staff right now. Here’s Charlton Warren’s:

Warren began his military career at the Academy in the admissions office as the Southeast U.S. admissions coordinator for the minority enrollment office from 1999-2000. He then went to Warner Robins AFB, Ga., from 2000-03 where he was the C-130 avionics program manager for the Air Logistics Center. While stationed there, Warren earned an MBA from Georgia College and State University. He was also recognized as the company grade officer of the quarter in 2002.

Before returning to the Academy in 2005, Warren was stationed at Eglin AFB, Fla., from 2003-05 as the MK-82 joint direct munitions program manger for the Air Armament Center. He also worked as the anti-spoof/anti-jam program manager while at Eglin. Warren was honored as part of the weapons program team of the quarter in 2003 and the direct attack group company grade officer of the quarter in 2004.

How on earth is a record as lackluster as this supposed to compete with fellow Captain Mike Thiessen, who worked in a personnel office, played minor league baseball, and taught algebra? I mean, if you were going to promote someone to Major, who would you pick? Face it, guys–service is “ranked” all the time. California League Player of the Week is a far bigger eye-opener than something like Officer of the Quarter no matter how many times you receive that award. Air Armament Center? Avionics program manager? Please. Give me some of that career-enhancing quadratic equation action instead.

But don’t feel sorry for Capt. Warren. Chances are that he will get that promotion. The sad reality is that the grueling life of a combat football coach takes its toll. Despite being on the fast track to promotion, career Air Force coaches shockingly don’t seem to stick around beyond their active duty obligation– well, those that actually have an obligation, anyway. The reason for this is that the Air Force does a terrible job taking care of these warriors. There is no career track established for Air Force football coaches. Think about it– there’s only one Air Force Academy. Once they’ve coached there, where are they supposed to go? And who has oversight responsibility for these coaches? Who mentors the mentors? The Air Force needs to establish an Office of Football Affairs. That way, football coaches who want to continue their life of valuable service have the means to do so.

As in-tune as I am with the plight of these champions of football warfare, even I have some questions. What manner of classroom training do cadets receive about this branch of service? Are they even aware that this is an option available to them? I mean, surely this path is open to more than just members of the football team. The Air Force wouldn’t limit career choices based on extracurricular activities, would they? That would be silly. Actually, since attending the Air Force Academy is such a backbreaking endeavor, why is it that only the football team receives this elite mentoring? Wouldn’t all cadets benefit from the guidance of a specialized mentor? In fact, the Air Force Academy should probably grow by another 1,000 or so cadets just to ensure that it graduates enough career mentors to meet its needs. For that matter, why is it that only select Air Force Academy graduates get to serve as football coaches? Why can’t ROTC graduates fulfill that role? Imagine the quality of coaching the American people would receive if we expanded the talent pool from which to draw football coaches! And are coaches on active duty eligible for individual augmentation assignments? I imagine not, since coaches are far more mission critical than other Air Force officers.

Hopefully these questions will be answered. And hopefully the Air Force Academy will highlight their football coaches so the American people can give them the accolades that they deserve. Because the longer that the practice of using a service academy to produce football coaches is swept under the rug, the more some people will think that it’s just a taxpayer-funded boondoggle designed to help recruit players like Brad Padayao who want nothing to do with actual military service. And we can’t have that, now can we?

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37 Responses

  1. OMG….

  2. lollerskates

  3. WOW!
    Talk about research?
    This one is taking awhile to digest before I even say anything…but at this point maybe best I can muster is WTF?
    #1 The next CIC -Johnny Mac .shouldfirst and foremost make the lists of graduating seniors service assignments available to the public and all who request them.

  4. What I’m concerned about is the fact that the Department of Defense is actively discriminating against these sideline heroes by denying them the hazardous duty pay that their forward-deployed brethren are receiving. Let me emphasize: ALL SERVICE IS EQUAL. That being a non-negotiable statement of fact, it is a crime that these Combat Football Coaches are being paid less for equal work. I’m of a mind to call the ACLU.

  5. Great stuff and a massive amount of research must have been involved. Don’t you ever sleep? lol

  6. OK, easy there, hoss….

    While on the surface your expose appears to be only lampooning Air Force football, there’s clearly an underlying and unforgiving condemnation going on.

    The fact of the matter is, not every graduate of the Academies goes on to fulfill an illustrious career, and yes, many, many graduates – athletes, scholars, and the like – never make it into the actual Fleet, Field, or whatever the Air Force calls it; they go into coaching, higher order sports, special academic programs, or special classified programs. David Robinson (you remember him?) fulfilled only two years of active duty as a supply officer in Kings Bay, Georgia, spending most of his time playing basketball for San Antonio’s farm/practice/regional squad. No one (especially not me, his classmate) begrudges him for not having completed the minimum five year active duty commitment.

    Let’s not be so naive as to think that sports doesn’t sell programs/careers/decisions. Going into a position of leadership, whether in the military or not, still affords the leader a chance to influence lives and tell his or her story. This alone can drive a young person’s decision to enter the military – by positively affecting another. And let’s not be so hard as to think two years stationed at some Air Force base doesn’t count – at any time, anyone can be called into Service to go in harm’s way, regardless of current assignment, especially these days – this includes the Individual Ready Reserve which I’m sure is the service component of these straight-to-civilian-life coaches. The fact that the few USAFA grads you mention were serving their country stationed on the homefront doesn’t lessen their service.

    So bottom line: as a 21 year naval officer, still serving on active duty, I’ve seen officers – graduates of the academies – who were dangerous, unmotivated, and unworthy of the rings they wore. The mere presence of these “officers” among other military professionals, Sailors, and the like inflicted more damage on morale and the reputations of their respective alma maters than the “harm” you cite that these handful (and I’m stressing – HANDFUL) of graduates are inflicting for not filling a traditional military role.

    I’m not happy about this fact, but it is a fact of life. And tell you what – why not devote some of the same research ethic you expended in digging up USAFA dirt toward finding USNA dirt? You’ll find the stories are similar, so two words: Glass Houses.

    BBG

  7. BBG: Yes, you’ll find a Robinson here and an Eckel there — Navy’s probably running one or two of these cases per decade, at most — but the Air Force situation is a bit unique in terms of numbers. If you can find a similar “coaching track” for USNA grads in the Navy or Marine Corps or for West Pointers in the Army, let’s hear about it. Bring it on.
    “Called into harm’s way”? A football coach? God help them if they are — don’t you need a warfare specialty to get that call?
    I don’t begrudge the guy who has the good fortune be assigned to coach quarterbacks and wear sweats every day for 4 years, but let’s not get carried away here and call what they do “serving their country” or equate what some clipboard jockey does to the work done by a supply or intel officer.

  8. Reefpoint,

    Roger – looks like we’ll agree to disagree on this one.

    I can cite several examples in my class and in year groups both immediately senior and junior to mine – sports like track, gymnastics, etc. Also, do we begrudge the Rhodes scholar who is assigned to a think tank in DC for his/her remaining commitment after graduation from Oxford?

    And “in harm’s way” doesn’t have to mean kicking in front doors in some God forsaken village in Iraq as part of a fire team; these days, with the threat coming asymmetrically, you’re not truly safe in Bahrain, Kuwait, and especially not in the Green Zone. Intel officers, supply officers, and officers with no warfare speciality are doing civil affairs operations overseas which places them all in danger daily.

    ‘Nuff said on my side. Take care, and sail safe.

  9. David Robinson had to receive special permission from the Secretary of the Navy to play professional basketball. There is no chance that these career Air Force football coaches had that same kind of oversight.

    Service academies don’t exist just so people can “tell their stories.” WTF is that namby-pamby crap? We’re talking about a $250,000 education to produce a football coach. And how is it relevant that you’ve come across bad officers? Who hasn’t? That somehow justifies a pipeline of fraud? To pretend that this is anything more than a way to sell Air Force football to recruits, you’d have to be an Air Force fan. I have a hard time believing that you’re David Robinson’s USNA classmate.

    If you can find any evidence of a systematic, sports-driven pipeline where USNA athletes are either let out of their obligations or allowed to pursue “non-traditional” (lol @ the euphemism) careers “serving” 50% + of their active duty obligations as full-time coaches, be sure to give me a heads up.

  10. The most insulting thing ever posted on the internet was that comparison of intel and supply officers to FOOTBALL COACHES.

  11. I’ll repeat myself: easy there, hoss.

    You’ll note that I said I didn’t like the fact that this kind of thing was going on, but let’s face it, it goes on and will go on whether we like it or not. There is significantly more going on behind the scenes in Academy athletics in the name of recruiting that you and I will ever be privvy to. And if you spent any time in the joint arena, you’d know that no one in the Air Force takes a dump without approval from higher authority. Navy was probably just more public in their granting approval to Dave for his situation; granted, Air Force has had more opportunities to give special favors to their grads, but that doesn’t mean that they also didn’t require SECAF approval.

    My point about the bad officers was that I’d take someone who can promote the military in a positive light who may not have completed a full commitment over an absolutely worthless officer who was obviously a waste of that $250,000 scholarship who did. And the real costs that these officers incur by perpetuating stereotypes about Academy grads as being lazy, entitled, stuck-up, non-leaders, not to mention poor mentors and leaders for our Sailors, are unrecoverable. If you had spent any time in the Fleet, you’d understand that.

    Enjoyed talking to Dave at our 20 year reunion last October. Please don’t tell him I’m a class imposter.

    And if you’re serious about “the most insulting thing ever posted on the internet was that comparison of intel and supply officers to FOOTBALL COACHES”, you need to get out more. Besides, why don’t you read as carefully as your write: I wasn’t making that comparison, but it does beg the quesion:

    You’re not URL, are you?

  12. I feel so inadequate. Those crazy Navy detailers never mentioned an NFL option. Four sea tours and 1098 days in the sand box, I guess did not prepare me enough for my one tour in Annapolis.
    I’ll send the SECDEF a check reimbursing him my seapay, subpay, and haz duty pay for the past 22 years, these Air Froce heroes can get what they are due.

  13. This is the most hate-filled column inspired by jealousy that I have ever read. I pity the poor writer who must live a life filled with venom.

  14. Why is “nuf said” never really “nuf said?”

    You keep talking about things that happen “behind the scenes” and how you can “cite several examples.” So do it already and stop wasting everyone’s time.

    Service academies don’t exist for self-promotion. And whatever some individual decides to make of his career is his own business. Tough luck if they “perpetuate stereotypes;” that has nothing to do with a systemic rip-off of the taxpayer. If the Air Force is so proud of these guys, and if their roles are so vital and justified, then they should release their service selection information the same way that Army and Navy do. Army and Navy WANT the world to know what their athletes are doing. Air Force does not.

    Your cliches about “nobody taking a dump without approval” ring hollow. I don’t recall ever running into football coaches in the joint arena, either. And if what you suggest is true, that the entire Air Force was in on this scam from the beginning… That just makes it worse.

    And for some reason you seem to want to defend the work of intel and supply officers when nobody has called it into question. So yes, it seems you equate that work with coaching football.

  15. Yes! Jealousy! I hate you for your freedom!

  16. Birddog’s post seems fairly well researched. If it’s inaccurate or if similar allegations — backed up by a similar level of factual detail — can be made to USNA, I’m sure that we will hear about them.
    Here’s why Birddog’s post is important: Navy and Air Force compete on several levels. First, in fielding potential candidates for their respective undergraduate officer training programs. Second, in fielding a smaller group among those candidates who can play football. Third, on the football field itself.
    Both schools face (or should be facing) the same obstacles — finding academically qualified candidates and convincing candidates and their families to accept a commitment to military service, to name two such obstacles. Notwithstanding these obstacles, this competition is good spirited, healthy, and beneficial to both institutions.
    If and to the extent that one school is bending the rules by using its program to train football coaches instead of military officers, it tends to turn that competition on its ear. It tends to limit or eliminate one of those obstacles. For instance, how is it that certain Air Force recruits get the idea that they can avoid military service (see Brad Padayao link, above). (This issue — of what Air Force recruits are being told — has been the subject of an interesting discussion among Navy fans on another website.)
    So, all of this matters, and if it stings just a little bit, it may be due to the fact that there is some truth to what is being suggested.

  17. Very solid post 85er, … and I think that you bring out what the true germane issue is here. It’s easy to criticize TBD for his overwhelmingly anti-AFA sentiment, … but obviously he did some research here, and his “stated facts” are probably valid, … And when one “peels back a few layers of onion skin”, somewhat disturbing given the mission/expectations of the Service Academies.
    BBGame is correct —> There have been a number of USNA grads out in the Fleet who turned out to be poor leaders/discredits to our beloved institution (I served proudly for 28 years in the submarine force), … but this argument misses the main point on tbd’s post. Also, … not to sling a bit of mud in his direction, … but I’d bet my bottom $$ that Dave Robinson was NOT a Supply Corps officer during his two year active duty stint down in Kings Bay (nor whatever length of service his inactive reseves obligation entailed) –> You tend to lose credibility when you don’t even know what your good friend & classmate service selection was.
    GO NAVY … BEAT ARMY!!!

  18. Robinson wasn’t Supply Corps?

  19. I think he was actually Civil Engineering Corps.

  20. Why I do believe you are correct. Someone should fix the Supply Corps’ wikipedia page.

  21. Those damn Chops – always trying to ride coattails to which they are not entitled….

  22. Thanx for the back-up Navy86 … I was pretty certain DR was a CEC’er … but it was a long time ago that I was privy to the specifics. As a young “post JO tour” LT, … I was one of his instructors during Plebe Year @ the Boat School.

  23. Dan/Navy 86 – of course you’re right – Dave was indeed CEC. It was a long time ago (18 years).

    No question that this goes on at every Academy, but it appears from TBD’s research that it’s not as rampant as at USAFA – that was never in question. But I’d rather not call out any USNA grads as TBD is taunting me to do. The fact that TBD views anyone who is not in violent agreement with him as disloyal to the Navy/USNA puts anyone who tries to offer counter-arguments at a frustrating disadvantage. TBD’s likely retort: “get your own damn blog, and you can say whatever you’d like to, too”. He would be right.

    So before TBD starts putting even more words into my mouth, this will be it for me.

    The real question is: how is Navy going to do this season with Niumatalolo at the helm?

    Sail safe, all. Go Navy!

  24. BBG,

    That is a weak attempt at taking a high road that doesn’t exist.

  25. BBGame,
    “Roger All” … And I will admit that I have “run afoul” of the “Good ole boy” network a few times this fledgling year of participating in the Navy Football blog sites. Lesson Learned –> Try to have all your ducks in a row when you join the fray, … cuzz rest assured, any inaccuracy will be seized upon & hammered to no end. But it’s a Free (and Great) country, … so everyone’s opinion is of value.
    Keeping my fingers crossed that Coach “N” & his staff can keep the success going w/ the talent on-hand … And that very few of this upcoming season’s games come down to “coaching decisions” where we begin lamenting that PJ isn’t on the sidelines. BEAT ARMY … BEAT AIR FORCE!!!

  26. BBGame, you tend to expose yourself as representing something you’re not with every post. 18 years ago was 1990. David graduated (allegedly with you) in 1987. That’s 21 years ago. Heck, all you’d have to do is look at your ring and do the math.

    Or have you forgotten that “you spoke with him at your 20th reunion last fall”?

  27. BBGame, you say that you can “cite several examples,” but you won’t because you’d rather not “call out” any USNA grads. But why would it be calling someone out if you believe that these individuals “promote the military in a positive light?” If you value their contributions, why not point them out with pride? You are either unwilling or unable to produce this evidence, and as such, you contradict yourself. If you are unwilling, then even you don’t believe the words that you say. If you are unable, then you are a liar.

    Speaking of contradictory, if I didn’t want dissenting opinions I would just turn comments off. But if you are going to offer your opinion, you had better be able to back it up. Thus far, you have failed. Asking you to back up what you say is not “taunting.” It’s also comically hypocritical to say that I’ve put words in your mouth while simultaneously imagining how I’d respond to you. Which in itself is ridiculous considering I’ve said nothing even remotely close to “get your own blog” while you’ve rambled on here.

    By the way, the only people who say something like “sail safe” are Air Force fans trying too hard to look like Navy fans.

  28. Hmmm ………..”sail safe” does sound a bit like “fly safe,” which is a common sign-off for air force types.

  29. 85er, great post on a policy that may tip the scales in USAFA’s favor. But, there’s more to the story than just the creation of an Officer “coaching track.” USAFA cadets can “apply to the Pentagon to have their mandatory active duty service reduced from five years to two” (see http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4191/is_20060407/ai_n16174077). USMA takes it one step further. Army allows athletes that are drafted by a professional athletic team to begin playing that sport IMMEDIATELY upon graduation. The “Soldier” is “stationed wherever he’s assigned to play ball, and serve as a reservist and a recruiter for 10 years, working between 30-40 days a year” (see http://www.usma.edu/publicaffairs/directorscorner/07april22-dailynews.htm). Navy’s policy remains the same as it has been — no professional sports until after your commitment is complete. SECNAV upheld the policy in 2005 when Billy Hurley (golfer – Class of ’04) and Kyle Eckel both applied to have their service curtailed in order to pursue their athletic careers. Many doubters will spout off the names of several professional athletes from USNA that were “allowed” to curtail their commitments. However, the only one I’m aware of that was officially let “off the hook” was Robinson.
    – Napoleon McCallum was allowed to spend one year with the Raiders while simultaneously serving in the Navy before SECNAV revoked the decision. He finished his commitment in 1990 before playing a single down in the NFL.
    – I don’t know Bob Kuberski’s story. He spent two years on active duty, then joined the Packers for good. If anyone has any info, I’d love to hear it.
    – Max Lane and Kevin Hickman (1995 classmate) quit after the Army-Navy game their firstie years.
    – Jim Kubiak (another infamous ’95er) went AWOL and into hiding when the Navy wanted him back. He claimed the Navy made him an “Air Force-like” deal and that he was still a part of the Indianapolis Colts’ organization, albeit as a member of the practice squad. The Navy got tired of chasing him down and finally cut him a deal.
    – Mike Wahle lost his NCAA eligibility and quit the academy.
    – Kyle Eckel is just a plain idiot.

    My point is this: TBD brings up some valid points. These policies should be brought under closer scrutiny by DoD and the American public. The fact that any service academy is giving Officers a “free pass” in the face of the Long War is just plain wrong. We all signed the dotted line; no one held a gun to our heads — we all knew what we were getting ourselves into. ADM Arleigh Burke claimed that compared to a ROTC graduate, an Academy grad makes a better Officer for at least the first two years of his commitment because he has had more leadership and technical training during his four years of school. Why would we want to waste the opportunity we have to exploit those advantages, especially while this country is at war? Personally, if I were Secretary of the Army, I would find it hard to explain to the family of a fallen Navy Sailor serving as an Individual Augmentee in Iraq why I am allowing a young man trained in ground combat to play a professional sport. While it may be only “onesies” and “twosies,” that’s still one or two Sailors that are not spending their “shore duty” in Iraq.

    And, BBG, I don’t mean to jump on the bandwagon, but… I don’t think anyone here was claiming these Air Force guys are “bad Officers.” I think the point TBD (and others) are trying to make is that the quality of the positions they have held seems to be a bit lacking.

  30. OK, this really is my last post. I was getting pissed at the piling on, but I’ve calmed a bit. Dan, you’re right about having your ducks in a row – people will nit-pick honest mistakes and miss the message entirely. Let me address a couple of points:

    By “18 years ago”, I was referring to when Dave’s active duty commitment ended – 2 years after graduation (yes, that technically was May 1989 since we graduated 20 May 1987, so perhaps I should have said “that was 18 years and 9 months ago” for Navy86. However, Navy86, I will say that you show a surprising level of attention to detail (albeit misdirected) for someone from the Class of ’86.

    And Bird Dog, as usual, you’re drawing the wrong conclusions for my not wanting to mention any classmates who may fit this category; classmates, I will add, that I AM very proud of, by the way. Doing so would be an invasion of their privacy, and it’s not my place to do this just to try to defend myself in the face of your bullying bravado. You’re a good researcher and will obviously want to point out that their Service selections are a matter of public record and not “private” as I’ve stated, so why don’t you ferret them out on your own…if you’ve got the grapes, of course. (yes, that was more of my putting words into your mouth).

    Also, why DON’T you turn comments off if you’re simply going to deride anyone who offers contrary opinions? (or anyone who isn’t in “violent agreement” with you – I know you liked that line). You’re magnanimous homage to free speech is worse than restricting freedom of speech in general.

    I’ve never heard that sign-off (“fly safe”) from any Air Force officer; I have, however, heard that from two CO’s in my early career, which I’ve adopted, too, and which I’ve already seen many of my JO’s do as well.

    And Rob, speaking of high roads that don’t exist, I was just trying to give TBD a graceful way to keep from embarrasing himself further and to quit being a bully. He needs all the help he can get.

  31. Someone doth protest too much.

    Don’t play the victim. You were the one who came in here making claims that these things happen at USNA and that you could “cite several examples.” It doesn’t make me a bully to hold you to you word. It just makes you full of shit.

  32. BBG

    you could have save the internet some bytes of data if you just said “waaahhhhhh” for your first post and shut up after that

    you’re like the Da Vinci of sucking at internet arguing

  33. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that the real victims here are the members of Combat Football Coach Corps. Who can blame them for not serving past their required commitment when the Air Force hasn’t made a commitment to their career paths by providing a retention bonus for this elite cadre? I recommend a bonus be offered ASAP, preferably tied in some way to the current rate of the SEAL bonus. It’s the only way to ensure that USAFA can compete with the NFL for retaining their mentoring services.

  34. Gentlemen-we arent talking about U Of M football here and this back and forth is just aggravating.
    Lets face it AFsucks , Army is immaterial to any football discussion and JB rules!

  35. [...] athletic departments wouldn’t want the same thing. (Hell, Air Force still has their Combat Coach program!) But as some people are charged with the best interests of the athletic department, others [...]

  36. [...] But if Ramsey really cares about the truth, why not just ask Carney now? He’s got the time, TRUST ME. If it only takes 2-3 minutes as Ramsey claims, then there’s no reason not to get the story [...]

  37. [...] So here’s hoping that this isn’t really what’s happening here, and that there’s an actual Air Force future in store for these cadets. But I’m not holding my breath. [...]

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