Air Force Falcons

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - NOVEMBER 28:  Head Coach Troy Calhoun of the Air Force Falcons leads his team onto the field before taking on the Colorado State Rams at Falcon Stadium on November 28, 2014 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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Air Force signs Troy Calhoun to contract extension

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On the same day he put together yet another recruiting class at one of the nation’s service academies, Troy Calhoun was also on the receiving end of a little additional “security.”

In a press release, Air Force announced that it has reached an agreement with Calhoun on a one-year contract extension.  Calhoun is now signed through the 2020 season.

There was no word on what if any raise is included in the new deal for Calhoun, who earned $919,000 in 2015.  That salary was fourth among the 12 Mountain West coaches.

“Troy Calhoun has been a tremendous leader for our program since coming to his alma mater in 2007, leading the program to eight bowl games in nine years,” athletic director Jim Knowlton said in a statement. “He has also led the team to exceptional accomplishments off the field and in the classroom. He is a great ambassador for Air Force athletics and we are very excited about Troy’s continued passion to lead our program in the future!”

“Our coaching staff is grateful each morning we drive through the north gate of the grounds of the Air Force Academy to work hip to hip alongside such an incredible faculty, administration and leadership team,” Calhoun said. “The mission is lucidly clear- to help foster and mentor our young men and women into leaders of character. We are thankful for our service members of yesterday, today and tomorrow, and we have the utmost respect for their dedication to preserve the freedoms of our great country.”

In nine seasons with the Falcons, Calhoun has compiled a 67-50 record. Following a 2-10 2013 campaign, there was talk of a Calhoun ouster; the academy squad responded to that talk with an 18-9 mark the past two seasons.

Lloyd Carr one of four added to playoff committee

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Earlier this week it was reported that a former Michigan head coach was under consideration for a spot on the committee that selects the College Football Playoff participants.  Thursday, those reports came to fruition.

The CFP revealed in a press release just a short time ago that former Wolverines head coach Lloyd Carr is one of four new members of the playoff selection committee.  The other three are Jeff Bower (long-time Southern Miss head coach), Herb Deromedi (winningest coach in MAC history) and Rob Mullens (current athletic director at Oregon).

Carr and Deromedi are members of the College Football Hall of Fame.

“We are delighted that Jeff, Lloyd, Herb and Rob are joining the committee,” CFP executive director Bill Hancock said in a statement. “Throughout the selection process, it was essential that the four new members have an in-depth knowledge and passion for college football. Each of these four fit that description perfectly. They will continue the high integrity of the committee.”

The four new members replace Mike Gould, Pat Haden, Tom Osborne and Mike Tranghese, all whose terms expired at the end of the 2015 season. Carr & Company will begin three-year terms starting with the 2016 season.

The additions of this quartet to the committee comes exactly a week after Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt replaced his counterpart at Arkansas, Jeff Long, as the chairperson.

Heading into the 2016 offseason, the makeup of the committee looks as such:

Hocutt, chairperson
Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin AD
Carr
Deromedi
Tom Jernstedt, former NCAA executive vice president
Bobby Johnson, former Vanderbilt head coach
Long
Mullens
Dan Radakovich, Clemson AD
Condoleezza Rice, former United States Secretary of State
Steve Wieberg, former sportswriter
Tyrone Willingham, former Notre Dame/Stanford/Washington head coach

Jared Goff strafes Air Force, leads Cal to first bowl win since 2008

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If this was indeed Jared Goff‘s last game in a Cal uniform, he made it a statistically memorable — and record-breaking — finale that came at the expense of Air Force.

Expected to leave his remaining eligibility on the table and make himself available for the NFL draft next April, Goff riddled the service academy’s air defense systems throughout the afternoon, setting Armed Forces Bowl records with 467 yards passing and six passing touchdowns in leading the Golden Bears to a 55-36 win over the Falcons.  The win was Cal’s first in a bowl game since dropping Miami (Fla.) in the 2008 Emerald Bowl.

Goff has now thrown for 300 or more yards 22 times — 10 this season in 13 games — in his three-year career as Cal’s starting quarterback.  He’s also gone over 400 yards eight times and surpassed 500 on three different occasions.  It was also the fifth time he’s thrown five or more touchdowns in a single game, including each of the last two.

In the process, Goff, expected to be in a fight with Memphis’ Paxton Lynch for the right to be the first quarterback selected in the draft, broke the Pac-12 single-season records for passing yards (4,719) and passing touchdowns (43), the latter of which was set by Oregon’s Marcus Mariota (42) during his Heisman run last season.  The yardage record was previously held by Oregon State’s Sean Mannion (4,662 in 2013).

The last two games alone, Goff passed for 1,009 yards as he threw for a career-high 542 yards in the regular-season finale against Arizona State.  He totaled 11 touchdowns in those two contests for good measure, a number that’s more than 13 FBS teams have thrown for all season.

Three of Goff’s scoring tosses on the day came in the second quarter as Cal took a 35-21 lead into the halftime locker room.  That was as close as the Falcons would get the rest of the way as they were outscored 20-15 over the final two quarters in what turned into their third bowl loss in their last four postseason trips.

Kenny Lawler caught three of Goff’s touchdowns, while Bryce Treggs accounted for 143 receiving yards.  Nine different Golden Bears caught passes as Goff completed 25-of-37 passes in putting up a season-high passer rating of 227.1.

Air Force, champions of the MWC’s Mountain division, finishes 2015 at 8-6.  The 18 wins for the Falcons the last two years (10-3 in 2014) are the most in back-to-back seasons for the program since they won 22 in 1997 and 1998.

CFT Previews: Your Dec. 29 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 29 bowl menu, which features five Power Five teams, including the first P5-P5 matchups as well as the SEC’s 2015-16 postseason debut.

WHO: Cal (7-5) vs. Air Force (8-5)
WHAT: The 13th Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
WHERE: Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas
WHEN: 2 p.m. ET, ESPN
THE SKINNY: For the second time this bowl season, exact opposites offensively will square off.  Cal is fourth in the country in passing yards per game (368.8), while Air Force is second in rushing yards per game (321.8).  The good news for the Falcons, at least on the surface, is that they are 23rd nationally in passing yards allowed (190.4 ypg); the bad news for the Golden Bears is that they are 104th in rushing yards allowed (203.3 ypg).  Cal began the 2015 season looking like a legitimate Pac-12 North contender, starting 5-0 before stumbling to a 2-5 finish.  Despite losing their last regular-season game, the service academy claimed the MWC’s Mountain division before falling by three points to 11-win San Diego State in the conference championship game.  Not only would a win give Cal its first bowl victory since the 2008 season in its first postseason appearance since 2011, it would also give the Bears its best record since going the same 8-5 in 2009.  Air Force would also win nine or more games in back-to-back seasons for the first time under Troy Calhoun and the first time since 1997 (10-3) and 1998 (12-1).  Here’s to guessing, though, that Jared Goff, in likely his last game as Cal’s quarterback, proves to be too much through the air for a Falcons secondary that hasn’t even remotely faced someone with the future first-round draft pick’s skillset.
THE LINE: Air Force, +7
THE PREDICTION: Cal 43, Air Force 34

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WHO: North Carolina (11-2) vs. Baylor (9-3)
WHAT: The 27th Russell Athletic Bowl
WHERE: Citrus Bowl Stadium, Orlando, Florida
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
THE LINE: Baylor, +3
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Nevada (6-6) vs. Colorado State (7-5)
WHAT: The 1st NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl
WHERE: Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Arizona
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. ET, CampusInsiders.com
THE SKINNY: In a matchup of Mountain West schools that the conference’s commissioner labeled a “travesty,” this inaugural bowl will be what was described in an October announcement of its creation as “the first digitally-focused bowl game broadcast.”  This is also the first time since the 1979 Orange Bowl, which pitted the Big Eight’s Nebraska and Oklahoma against each other, that teams from the same conference played in the same postseason game.  So this travesty has all of that going for it, which is nice.  Be that as it may, Colorado State comes in as the hotter of the two teams in winning their last four games, while Nevada lost back-to-back games to close out the regular season.  Here’s perhaps the most interesting stat coming into this game: the Wolf Pack is undefeated this season when they run for 230-plus yards, 0-6 when they fall short of that mark.  The Rams’ run defense?  107th in run defense (208.5 yards per game) and 101st in yards per carry (4.9).  CSU, though, is 3-2 in games this season in which in which they give up 230 or more yards on the ground.  Postseason history isn’t on Nevada’s side even if they get to that magical 230-yard mark as the Wolf Pack will be looking for its first bowl win since 2010 and just its second since 2005, a mark of 1-7 in that span.  The Wolf Pack, with a win, will also be looking for its fourth 7-6 season the past five years, while the Rams would hit eight wins or more for the third straight year, which would be the program’s longest such stretch since 1997-2002.
THE LINE: Nevada, +3
THE PREDICTION: Colorado State 31, Nevada 21

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WHO: LSU (8-3) vs. Texas Tech (7-5)
WHAT: The 10th AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl
WHERE: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
WHEN: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
THE LINE: Texas Tech, +7½
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

Air Force to review end-zone prayers following advocacy group complaint

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The worlds of sports and religion are colliding yet again, this time at one of the nation’s service academies.

According to the Air Force Times, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), which the paper describes as a group that opposes proselytizing in the military, has filed an official complaint with the Air Force Academy regarding its football program. Specifically, the group has taken issue with members of the academy’s football team’s pregame tradition of kneeling in the end zone prior to and after games, holding hands and praying.

“This end zone praying is just another territorial conquest of the religious Christian right,” MRFF founder and president Mikey Weinstein said. “This stands in a long line of conservative Christian acts like this.”

Because of the complaint, the academy is conducting a review of the situation.

“The Air Force Academy Inspector General opened a third-party complaint and referred the issue to the athletic department for an informal inquiry,” an Air Force spokesperson said in an email. “Friday morning we received an opposing viewpoint requesting cadets continue to be afforded the right to pray. Thus, we are being prudent and deliberate in our review of this issue.

The players are not being required, compelled or forced to pray by any program or academy official. Rather, according to the academy’s official stance, they do it of their own volition.

The MRFF currently represents what the Times describes as 144 Air Force Academy cadets, faculty and staff. Included in that number are five current members of the Falcons football team. The group that represents the football players has no confidence that the academy can conduct an unbiased review into their complaints.

“Allowing the Air Force Academy to investigate itself — this is simply the fox investigating the hen-house,” Weinstein said. “We expect that we’ll get nothing positive out of this and we’ll continue to take a look at whether our clients could possibly get ‘John’ and ‘Jane Doe’ protections to go into federal court to seek an injunction.”

The academy maintains that it is “attentive to all religious freedom concerns” and looks to create “an environment in which people can realize their highest potential regardless of personal religious or other beliefs.”