Air Force Falcons

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Troy Calhoun has the worst College Football Playoff expansion idea yet

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There is nothing wrong with trying to think of ways for a sport or a product to improve. Sometimes that means spitballing ideas on a board just to see what sticks. Most of the time, those ideas thrown around will be complete garbage, such as Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun‘s idea to improve the College Football Playoff if/when it expands to an eight-team format.

Calhoun’s idea for the College Football Playoff is to expand to eight teams with each power conference champion receiving an automatic bid, two wild card slots and one guaranteed bid for the best Group of Five conference champion. If it were just that, Calhoun has my support as this is the exact outline I have advocated. But it is how Calhoun wants the Group of Five team to be selected for the guaranteed spot.

Calhoun wants a four-team playoff between Group of Five programs to determine the final College Football Playoff spot.

That, folks, is a horrible idea.

“I think it would, really, bring a wholeness that would be splendid for the spirit of college football,” Calhoun said, according to The Gazette.

No, stop it. Why should the Group of Five have to play additional games on top of their 12-13 game schedule that includes a conference championship game (the Sun Belt will begin playing a championship game in 2018), two more postseason games just to get into the College Football Playoff? That schedule would be brutal, not to mention the wear-and-tear on players playing for programs that lag behind the state-of-the-art facilities the power conference programs have.

Let’s take Navy, for example.

Let’s say the Midshipmen play for and win the AAC Championship. They then go on to play Army the following week in the annual Army-Navy Game. Immediately after that, I assume, they would have to play a semifinal Group of Five playoff game. Win that, and they play again the next week for the Group of Five spot in the College Football Playoff. That leaves little recovery and prep time for their first College Football Playoff opponent, which likely has to be played the following week before the semifinals are played New Years weekend.

Navy may be the extreme scenario, but regardless of what team you use as an example, the overall result is the same. You can’t make cases to improve player safety and have a playoff just to get into a playoff.

I applaud your willingness to think outside the box, Troy Calhoun, but this plan still needs some major retooling.

In wake of Bob Stoops’ retirement, thought of not being part of a team scares Nick Saban

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With the reverberations of Bob Stoops‘ shocking retirement announcement Wednesday still being felt, some attention has turned to just which long-tenured head coach could be next to step away from the profession.

At the moment, there are currently head coaches who have been at the same program for at least the last 10 consecutive years — Rice’s David Bailiff (2007), Air Force’s Troy Calhoun (2007), Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio (2007), Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz (1999), Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald (2006), Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy (2005), Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo (2007), TCU’s Gary Patterson (2000), Alabama’s Nick Saban (2007), Ohio’s Frank Solich (2005), Middle Tennessee State’s Rick Stockstill (2006) and Utah’s Kyle Whittingham (2005).  Of the Power Five coaches in that group, the oldest, as well as most successful, is Saban, who’ll turn 66 in late October this year.

Saban is in the midst of what will be a Hall of Fame career that stretches back 45 years, the past 27 as a head coach.  Given his age and the ever-growing demands of the profession, it’s natural to wonder how long until the winner of five national championships hangs up his coaching whistle.

As for that particular subject, the coach himself doesn’t seem to even want to think about a future that doesn’t include him on the sidelines.

In the full article from Aaron Suttles of the Tuscaloosa News, Saban expounded on his coaching future and the “r” word.

“I don’t think that anybody can not have those thoughts,” the coach told the News. “But my thought is that I want to do it as long as I feel like I can do it. I really enjoy being around the players. I really enjoy trying to create value for them and their future whether it’s their personal development, seeing them graduate, seeing them develop as football players and have opportunities in life.”

Saban and Stoops and Stoops’ family — there’s a great story HERE about Saban and one of Stoops’ uncles in a Youngstown bar that was robbed — have been friends for more than four decades. Could Stoops’ abrupt decision to step away from the game have an impact on Saban, who earlier this signed off on a contract extension through the 2024 season? That’s unlikely as it seems that Saban has at least a few more good years left in him.

Then again, before Wednesday, most would’ve said the same for the 56-year-old Stoops.

Air Force issues release further clarifying policy change

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One of the more eyebrow-raising headlines from the most NFL draft has added another layer.

Shortly before the start of the draft Thursday, and to the surprise of at least a couple of eligible players, it was revealed to NFL teams that Air Force would no longer approve requests from academy graduates to defer their two years of active duty service in order to be allowed to play professional football.  Such a change effectively made players like Falcons wide receiver Jalen Robinette and, possibly, safety Weston Steelhammer undraftable.

A mini-imbroglio ensued, with the agent for one player impacted by the abrupt shift in policy hinting at a potential legal challenge.

Given the negative headlines the shift generated, Air Force felt compelled to issue another press release, if for nothing more than to inform the masses that the same policy applies to their service academy rivals as well.

Below is the latest release, in its entirety:

As released earlier today, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) has rescinded the policy to allow cadet-athletes to apply for Ready Reserve status immediately after graduation to participate in professional activities/sports. The Air Force Academy released a statement from the Air Force prior to the NFL draft this week so NFL teams would be aware that the service would no longer support these requests and they could conduct their business in good faith, as Air Force Academy cadet Jalen Robinette was the lone NFL Draft prospect from any of the academies.

With the release of the new OSD policy which reverts back to all service academy graduates and ROTC members serving two years on active duty, all three service academies are under the same guidance moving forward. Air Force Academy cadets Jalen Robinette and Griffin Jax look forward to graduation and commissioning in May. Their conduct exemplifies the character and dignity one would expect from a soon-to-be Air Force second lieutenant. Both of these cadets remain in excellent standing at the Academy and should have an opportunity to pursue their professional athletic goals after serving two years as officers in the Air Force should they choose.

Air Force changes rules for football players with NFL aspirations

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One of the top players from Air Force was ineligible to be drafted by the NFL this weekend, and it had nothing to do with NFL rules. It also had nothing to do with NFL teams backing away from a particular player due to off-field concerns. Instead, a policy at Air Force is what is to blame for wide receiver Jalen Robinette not moving on to the NFL at this time.

The U.S. Air Force will not approve requests from academy graduates to defer their two years of active duty in order to be allowed to play professional football. Just a year ago, the Department of Defense changed the policy to allow for the possibility, which made it possible for Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds to be allowed to play. Reynolds later joined the Baltimore Ravens. Reynolds had received a recommendation to be allowed to play by the U.S. Naval Academy.

“The Air Force notified academy leaders [Thursday] that the service would not approve requests to waiver active duty military commitments for cadet athletes,” a statement from Air Force read. “Cadets will be required to serve two years active duty prior to entering Ready Reserve, which would allow their participation in professional sports. The Air Force places tremendous value on our cadet athletes and their contributions to the nation as we continue to build leaders of character, engage in combat operations overseas and continue to ensure our highest military readiness at home.”

Because of the policy change and confirmation, Robinette was not able to be drafted. He may still have been a long shot to be drafted by an NFL Team, but the policy also means he is unable to be signed as an undrafted free agent as well.

Mountain West alters revenue distribution plan based on TV appearances, but Boise State keeps sweetheart deal

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One of the more obscure remnants of the realignment era in college athletics is the way the Mountain West distributes television revenue. Most notably, Boise State was allowed to keep a certain slice of the pie (slightly less than $2 million) as part of the condition that they would stay in the league, then the rest of the remaining members would split what was left — with a catch.

That catch turned out to be a form of a bonus system that gave a little extra to schools who appeared on national television on conference partners like ESPN and CBS Sports Network. It appears the MWC has had a change of heart about how things are being distributed because that is changing going forward next season.

Per the Idaho Statesman:

The conference determined the formula and bonus structure was not performing as it had been intended. Now, Boise State’s membership agreement and its ESPN deal were honored, meaning the school gets $1.8 million up front annually. That’s the average bonus payout Boise State got from 2013-15 under the contract it agreed to when deciding to stay in the Mountain West. The remaining revenue will be divided among the 11 football-playing schools outside Hawaii, worth approximately $1.1 million per year, meaning a total of $2.9 million for Boise State.

The bonus system was a bit of a sore spot for many schools in the league, something commissioner Craig Thompson conceded in an interview last July. The new deal looks to be a little more fairer to everybody in the league and probably won’t draw as many complaints as before (though that Boise State sweetheart deal from realignment remains). While the overall figures aren’t anywhere close to their Power Five peers, it’s still a nice chunk of change for many of the Mountain West athletic departments.