Air Force Falcons

Getty Images

Air Force issues release further clarifying policy change

3 Comments

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As released earlier today, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) has rescinded the policy to allow cadet-athletes to apply for Ready Reserve status immediately after graduation to participate in professional activities/sports.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

AP Photo/The Colorado Springs Gazette, Michael Ciaglo
7 Comments

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

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.

Air Force adds pair of assistants

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Troy Calhoun‘s coaching staff is once again whole.

The service academy announced in a press release Wednesday that Calhoun has added Bart Miller and Taylor Stubblefield to his Falcons staff.  The former will coach tight ends while the latter will handle wide receivers.  Steed Lobotzke, who had previously coached tight ends, will move to the offensive line.

The moves were made to replace Clay Hendrix, who left to become the head coach at Furman, and Jake Moreland, who has joined the staff at Western Michigan.

Stubblefield, an All-American receiver at Purdue, spent the 2016 season as an assistant in the CFL. His last job at the collegiate level came at Utah (2014-15).  He’s also coached at the FBS level at Eastern Michigan (2008), Central Michigan (2011), New Mexico (2012) and Wake Forest (2013).

Miller’s last coaching job came as the line coach at Minnesota at 2015.  He’s also spent time on staffs at Wisconsin, New Mexico State and Florida Atlantic.

Independents and Group of Five National Signing Day Recap: Irish bounce back, Memphis tops AAC

Getty Images
2 Comments

Outside of the Power Five conferences, recruiting went about as expected in 2017.

Notre Dame continued to pound the national trail and landed a top 12 class full of players who will be expected to play early. BYU managed another impressive group that was one of the most diverse out there. The schools with a talent-rich backyard to draw on did well in the AAC.  Boise State was once again tops in the Mountain West and did better than a few peers in the region. And yes, Lane Kiffin earned that recruiting reputation by pulling in the best class of Conference USA.

Though there wasn’t much drama outside the top schools, there nevertheless was plenty of action for many programs on National Signing Day.

Top recruits (all rankings via 247Sports Composite): No. 67 overall Brock Wright (TE, Notre Dame), No. 154 overall Chaz Ah You (DB, BYU), Aisa Kelemete (DE, Boise State), Nick Robinson (TE, Memphis), Nicholas Sims (RB, Toledo)

Top classes: Notre Dame (No. 11 overall), Memphis (No. 58 overall), Boise State (No. 60 overall), BYU (No. 65 overall), Florida Atlantic (No. 71 overall), Toledo (No. 74 overall), Texas State (No. 87 overall)

Biggest storyline: Irish still land solid recruiting class

Despite the worst season in South Bend since Charlie Weis and a nearly brand new coaching staff, Notre Dame still managed to cobble together a top 12 class on Signing Day. Tight end Brock Wright was the highest rated player and should see early playing time but the number of quality offensive linemen was really evident in the group Brian Kelly signed. Will it be enough to help with a big turnaround? We’ll see.

Biggest surprise: Memphis runs away with things in the AAC but new coaches still fared well

Given all the turnover in the American this year, it should probably come as no surprise that the Tigers pulled the top recruiting class in the conference. That’s a testament to what Mike Norvell is building with the program and the fact that they don’t have to go far for players. Many of the same factors played a role in Scott Frost landing the second-best class at UCF. It was also pretty impressive what Luke Fickell did on the recruiting trail at Cincinnati and Charlie Strong did at USF given those two didn’t have a ton of time to get things lined up.

Don’t sleep on: Boise State, Colorado State

The Broncos were once again the class of the Mountain West on the recruiting trail and fended off several Pac-12 schools for prospects. That will put them firmly in the mix to win the league again in 2017 but don’t overlook another good job by Mike Bobo and staff at Colorado State in landing 17 three-star players.

We’ll see about: Everybody else