2016 Schedule Series: Army (Again)

Know Your Opponent:

The 2016 Schedule Series bit fizzled out after UTSA. Turns out preparing for Thanks giving and whatnot is more of a burden on my soul and time than writing up thoughts on the opponent’s history.

Even so, I skipped Army, which was kind of rude of me. So let us dive into the history of Army- West Point AKA United States Military Academy ahead of their annual battle in the Army-Navy game, the Game That Used To Was.

The venerable home of online knowledge that is Wikipedia tells us that Army was founded by Thomas Jefferson’s direction in 1801, when he said “that should be a cool spot to found the USMA, y’all guys.” And it was so.

West Point is where we have trained our best and brightest and also stole some of our best college traditions:

It was the first American college to have an accredited civil-engineering program and the first to have class rings, and its technical curriculum was a model for later engineering schools. Wikipedia

Why West Point? Well the Continental Army — the one that won the Revolutionary War — had spent time there and also had an Army post there. Being a good spot and all, this made it a pretty good spot to keep and train forces eventually. Fun fact: the fortification was known as Fort Arnold for a while. You know, after Benedict Arnold. Once he flipped commitment committed treason, it was changed. Good times.

As they figured out the standards for the Academy, they tried a few things out, including allowing 10-year olds train. That did not work out so well. The Academy produced soldiers for both sides of the Civil War, most of whom fought bravely and were commended for their fighting. Talk about training your competition amirite?

Douglas MacArthur was a cadet, and later a superintendent and it was he that emphasized athletics:

Upon the fields of friendly strife
Are sown the seeds
That, upon the other fields, on other days
Will bear the fruits of victory.
General MacArthur

They are out here playing football to win wars, dammit. You could maybe say that giving Army a good, competitive game in the Heart of Dallas Bowl is Patriotic.

I paused reading about West Point and its history because I had a creeping feeling that all I have done and will do is lame, for I did not test myself at West Point. So I stopped because I do not like feeling inadequate, man.

The Football Team

Army was really good in the early half of last century. You may remember Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside, Earl Blaik.

Blaik is the man whose name is on the field of Michie Stadium, he coached Army for 18 seasons and won three national titles.

Here he is ready to hoop:

Blaik, second from right

He got Army to drop the height/weight requirements and proceeded to dominate college football for a while. Army eventually fell off as other schools adopted training regimens, lowered academic standards, ate better, and more money flowed into collegiate athletics. Such is life.

Now, Army has struggled especially compared to Navy, which is still relavent nationally. This weekend we can watch Army-Navy and it will be great.