Army parts ways with coach Rich Ellerson after Navy loss

Submitted by Cold War on December 15th, 2013 at 8:13 PM

Per SI and NBC Sports.



December 15th, 2013 at 8:19 PM ^

From an Army family's standpoint:

He got Army to have a winning season it hadn't had in over a decade, but couldn't get it done vs. Navy. And to top it off, he was trending down in the win column since the bowl year. Sucks, but Army is making the right call. Hope they get someone to get Army back on track and make the Army/Navy game competitive again.

Go Army! Beat Navy!


December 15th, 2013 at 8:19 PM ^

Here is NBC Sports on the subject - (LINK)

They actually quote the SI article, which already throws out some ideas on a replacement for Ellerson:

"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."

Lazer with a Z

December 15th, 2013 at 8:26 PM ^

So, the question is; will they stick with the triple option, given that list of potential candidates? Will be interesting to see. 

They have run it out of neccesity, but I wonder if that will change. 

I will say, that both Army and Navy had bigger linemen this year than I have been accustomed to seeing. They are usually known for smaller, fit linemen due to the physical demands at the academies. 


December 15th, 2013 at 8:36 PM ^

I've wondered if a team like Army might be willing to go even more "retro" with their offense and run from a Single Wing.  It depends on entirely on ball fakes and misdirection which would seem to be something a team lacking physical size and depth would want to employ.  Plus it would be a total bitch to try and prepare for given that nobody really runs it anymore.

Avon Barksdale

December 15th, 2013 at 8:53 PM ^

But I'm surprised Navy/Army/Air-Force haven't went to spread-option type offenses. Smaller lineman can be used there also and honestly it would probably help their recruiting.

Nothing against any of the academies and I know it's not about football when you choose those schools, but I'm sure running a 1940's offense isn't something most teenage kids want to do playing college football.

I may be totally misguided with that notion, however.


December 15th, 2013 at 11:33 PM ^

the players at the academies might love football but they are not there for football first, school/military second.  They get no breaks when it comes to the scholastic and military portion of their schedule.  They have 5 year commitments waiting for them when they are done with school.  They can choose to opt out of the 5 yr commitment but then they have to repay the cost of the 4 years of school they received. 


December 16th, 2013 at 6:13 AM ^

Ask any football player at the academy why he came to the academy and the answer will more often than not be, "Because I could play D1 football here and get a good education." The military thing rarely comes into it. Same answer applies for most of the other intercollegiates. That's not to say they don't have a place in the military afterwards, as an example, baseball players tend to make great pilots(best students I had when I was teaching pilot training), but it's rare they think of military first. They also do miss out on some training due to practice, games, etc. but I would say that's a trade off that favors the regular cadet.


December 16th, 2013 at 10:55 AM ^

As an AF Academy graduate and former intercollegiate athlete, there rarely is one answer that applies to all cadets who play football or whatever sport.  There was a kid who I graduated with who transferred from Mizzou (having spent 2 yrs of eligibility already) so he could go to the Academy and be an AF officer.  He played his freshmen and sophomore years and then finished school.  On the other side of the coin, there was a guy who was a QB on the team and left after his sophomore year so he could get some playing time at another school...ended up being a starter for Purdue. 

Football is just one aspect, military and school are others.  The thing they stressed to us was the balance between all portions of your time at the Academy.  Even non-intercollegiate athletes still had to do SOME athletics...Intramurals was mandatory for everyone else if you weren't on a team.  The fact that the football team had a few more "liberties" because of their schedule, their public facing persona that generated a lot of attention and money for the school was highlighted, but most other cadets got it...they worked hard and got a little more attention.  The majority of the players took it in stride, some who took advantage ended up paying a price here or there. 

The difference is that school was very important because just getting a degree (or not for other school's players who went to the NFL) wasn't the only goal.  You were always competing for everything.  The better you did in military and academics means you had your first choice of career path, or your first choice of pilot training base.  There was always an incentive to do better in all aspects of the Academy pillars of excellence. 

Limiting this discussion to one argument or another sells the entire debate short. 

gustave ferbert

December 15th, 2013 at 9:14 PM ^

to run.  It plays to the strengths of the service academies because these are extremely bright kids who are undersized and it would be to their advantage.  Letting go of the coach was inevitable. West Point has an extremely proud alumni base and they need to end this losing streak yesterday.  This is the longest streak in the entire history of the rivalry isn't it? 


December 15th, 2013 at 9:34 PM ^

It sucks that he had to go, but when you haven't beaten your main rival in over a decade a change needs to occur, I guess.

I'm sure they'll find a nice replacement, and he'll probably keep the offense the same simply because I'm not sure what other options he'll have.  I guess if you happen to have a decent passer you could try to spread them out a bit more and run a Denard-type passing offense with a running core, but there are only so many options out there given the fact that the service academies don't really "recruit" in the classic sense.

Perkis-Size Me

December 15th, 2013 at 9:49 PM ^

Unfortunate, but sounds like it had to happen. If you can't beat your rivals, you're not going to last very long. And Army needs to find a way to at least make the game against Navy competitive, much less find a way to beat them.

Michigan Arrogance

December 15th, 2013 at 10:42 PM ^

Do army, navy, AF recruit? I can't imagine they have a lot of options at the d1 level when it come to targeting recruits. I would think anyone who is considering an academy would have sports as a distant 3rd and at the D1 level that doesn't leave a lot of talented kids. If the just pull from the available student body, that's all te more impressive.


December 15th, 2013 at 10:53 PM ^

They recruit.  Their players definitely aren't just pulled from the student body from tryouts.

Recruiting to Navy, against Army, has got to be fairly easy, though.  I mean, such as it gets.  Navy can pitch what is essentially a non-combat career after football and the "join the Navy, see the world" line, which is a very true one, whereas with Army, it's "join the Army, hope you like Afghanistan."  And for those recruits that do like the idea of combat, the Marines provide a pretty strong draw.  So even though the group of football recruits that are open to a service academy is small, Navy and Air Force probably get the pick of that litter.


December 16th, 2013 at 6:51 AM ^

It cannot be a coincidence that the last game Army won was the one right after 9/11.

To be fair though some of the Midshipmen said their goal is to lead Marines in the game intro.

Also it us "Global Force for Good" nowadays. At some point they decided to be more like the Marines chivalry campaigns. Personally, I have always thought "Join the Navy and See the World" was better.


December 16th, 2013 at 8:26 AM ^

It is unless you are suggesting that 9/11 which occurred after the fall semester at West Point somehow allowed them to get a huge number of freshmen that tore it up that game.

Actually the difference in how the athletic departments are structured. The Navy is set up like a more traditional university where the Army is set up with non appropriated funds making everyone government contractors. The Navy pays more and gets better coaches.

The difference is not in the recruits. The difference is in the coaches.


December 16th, 2013 at 8:37 AM ^

What he's suggesting is the Army got thoroughly involved with a war after 9/11 and West Point looked a lot less glamorous afterwards, while the only real difference in the Navy's operation was where it sent its ships and the occasional missile launch.  It has nothing to do with the win that year, it has everything to do with the losses thereafter.

Granted, yes, Paul Johnson was the driving force behind building Navy's program.  The coaching part of it can't be denied.  But there absolutely is a difference in the recruits, too.


December 16th, 2013 at 10:08 AM ^

Having been in Afghanistan it was rather different. It is not Vietnam and we have about 60K total Americans across all branches. Given that the US Army is about half a million and another half a million in Guard and Reserve you see that it is not necessarily likely to assume that one will go to Afghanistan (or Iraq when it was a shooting war). Officers were fighting to go because it would help them for promotion boards at the time.

The Navy was winning before the 2001 game so that wasn't a sudden change. Also, Army won during the late 60's and early 70's so Vietnam didn't change the games over to Navy (although Navy did go 9-1-1 with Army from 1973-1983 which was after we left Vietnam). Also, if you look at the number of applicants over time, it is driven by the economy as a whole and not wars (generally).

Guys that go to the service academies are not the 4-5 star guys. They are a bunch of lower level guys that know that they are joining with the understanding that will owe a few years to Uncle Sam.

It again goes back to coaching.


December 16th, 2013 at 10:20 AM ^

The civilian perception is what often matters in recruiting, though.

I realize that the service academy guys aren't the big five stars, but once a guy is open to a service academy, he can usually choose between Army, Navy, and Air Force unless he's dead set on one of them.  Wanted to join the Army all his life, maybe.  But take a guy who's got a choice between one of the three - his last choice will probably be West Point.  The USNA will tell him - if you don't want to go to awful places, you don't have to, and if you do, hey, you can, and you can do it as a Marine.

Army had good teams during Vietnam likely for much the same reason they were a powerhouse during WWII - the draft.  A good football player with a low draft number could be encouraged to play football for Army and thus avoid Nam for a few years.

Cold War

December 16th, 2013 at 6:39 AM ^

Did browse Navy and Army football forums for a bit and was struck how they both despised Air Force while having great mutual respect. Damn those Zoomies anyway.


December 16th, 2013 at 10:34 AM ^

This is generally true among the services at large, not just the football fans.  Really old-school Navy folks never forgave the Air Force's gentle suggestions to a very receptive SECDEF that the Navy was obsolete and should be folded.  You still learn about that in ROTC classrooms and, I'm sure, at the Academy too.  I wouldn't go so far as to say the AF is despised, but I would say that in general, in the Army and Navy, the respect for the AF goes only as far as generic respect for servicemembers while the respect for each other goes deeper.


December 16th, 2013 at 11:04 AM ^

to compete with an Army/Navy rivalry that goes back as far as it does.  Air Force has only been a service for 66 years and has only had an Academy since 1955, first graduating class in 1959.  We're considered the "new kid on the block" when it comes to the athletic rivalries.  My time on the swimming team at the Academy, we only competed ONCE against another service Academy and it was against Army, a meet in which we won.  We felt like they were avoiding us for some reason, and we weren't the only team with that feeling. 


December 16th, 2013 at 2:14 PM ^

I think a large part of it is driven  by jealousy and a feeling that the Air Force just isn't as "Hard" as the other services.

Army guys have to go and eat dirt for months on end in some S***hole bases and Navy guys are stuck "Hot-bunking" and dealing with other fun and joys of ocean bound life.  Air Force, by contrast, does tend to have better facilities and lifestyle(along with being masters of the budgetary battles).

This filters down to the football games as well with Army and Navy having a grudging respect but often feeling like the Air Force guys are punks and what not.  

In truth, it's fine by me.  Life is all about choices and the fact I was smarter than the Army and Navy guys when I picked my service isn't something I feel any obligation to feel bad about.


December 16th, 2013 at 2:23 PM ^

Do you know how much a damn aircraft carrier costs?  The reason the Navy's facilites do not compare with the Air Force's is due to their priorities.  As expensive as airplanes are, the Navy has cornered the market on war machine expenses.

And you know the old saying...Navy wings may be made of gold, but Air Force wings are made of hard work. 


December 16th, 2013 at 3:59 PM ^

Actually you gotta hand it to the Air Force budgeters.  When the Navy is given money to build a base, they build the piers and warehouses and stuff, run out of money, ask for more to build morale facilities and are turned down.  The Air Force builds the golf courses, gyms, bowling lanes, and then goes, "hey, can we have some more for the runways too?"  Clever.

(I don't know how much truth there is in that at all.  But you gotta admit the Navy has the coolest toys.)