“A Bowl Game-A Special Game-Opponent”
San Diego State plays in another bowl game on Saturday, something quite common in the Rocky Long-led era.
But the Armed Forces Bowl in Ft-Worth will be different.
It won’t be like last year’s win over the Houston Cougars. Surely not the party that was the Hawaii Bowl win over Cincinnati. Unlike most of the other bowl games either.
Yes, State plays Air Force in Mountain West play, and yes they have played Navy.
But this bowl game with Army has a different feel, for West Point is different.
They’ve been playing football on the Hudson since the 1890s.
Michie Stadium, overlooking the river, on a hillside abreast of the historic buildings on the post, is unlike any other stadium in the country.
The march onto the field of the Cadets. The Army anthem. The echoes of the past are amazing.
Army is history.
It’s Mister Inside-Mister Outside, Glen Davis and Doc Blanchard.
It’s the Heisman Trophy winner Pete Dawkins.
It’s home games at Yankees Stadium back in the day.
It’s the once proud rivalry with Notre Dame and coach Frank Leahy.
It’s Earl Blaik, the legendary coach in the 1940s and 50’s.
It’s Army going (27-0-1) in 1944-45-46.
It’s 3-national championships and the Lambert Trophy, a symbol of supremacy in the East.
It’s the Army Mule.
Its the Commandeer in Chief Trophy.
It’s George Marshall and Douglas MacArthur.
It’s the Lonesome End, Bill Anderson, and players like Rollie Stitchweh and Mike Mayweather.
It’s the knowledge the star of this game, may be the soldier who stands a watch to protect your family in some far away place in the next year or so.
In harm’s way is not picking up a blitzing linebacker, but rather a night time raid in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan.
Bobby Ross, the legendary Chargers coach, strolled the sidelines for 3-years. He was forever moved by the specialness of those players, who would soon become commissioned officers.
He was moved to receive a letter from a former Army player in October about what Army-vs-Navy meant to him. And it was the same letter Ross read to his players the night before they played Navy, days after being notified that former player had lost his life in a fire fight.
So tomorrow, when we cheer Rashaad Penny in his final Aztecs game, and we watch the brilliance of Army QB-Ahmed Bradshaw, understand this is more than just a bowl game.
If you ever get the chance to visit West Point, or Annapolis, or Colorado Springs,you should. It will move you like nothing you have ever experienced before in sport.
And when it is over, Long, the old-ball coach, will lead his players to the Army side of the field for their Alma Mater, a classy salute to what the Black Knights represent, not just on the field, but in real life.
There are so many great things that Aztecs football has become. Think about ht great things Army-West Point represents.
Excuse me for this one day if I don’t root for the Red & Black, but rather the Black Knights of the Hudson. Who they are, what they represent, and what they will become.
The aura of Army football is more than just their power option offense, or their colors. it is a way of life, worth saluting, on and off the field.