Troy Calhoun

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Air Force rewards Troy Calhoun with one-year contract extension through 2021

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Air Force is tacking on one additional year to the contract of head coach Troy Calhoun. The Air Force Academy announced today Calhoun’s latest extension will keep him in charge of the Air Force program through the 2021 season.

“Troy Calhoun has done an outstanding job leading the Air Force program the last 10 years,” Air Force Director of Athletics Jim Knowlton said in a released statement. “To lead a service academy to nine bowl games in 10 years is a tremendous accomplishment for any program. Troy has also led the team in an exceptional manner to great things off the field and in the classroom as well. He is a great ambassador for the Academy and we are very excited about him continuing to lead our program and developing leaders of character for our nation in the future.”

Calhoun is coming off the second 10-win season in three years and has coached Air Force to a record of 77-53 from 2007 through the 2016 season. Along the way, Air Force has won four bowl games, including this past season’s Arizona Bowl.

Calhoun’s job security was likely to be in jeopardy in the 2013 season when the Falcons won just two games and saw their win total diminish for a third straight season. Calhoun held on to his job and rewarded the program for their loyalty with a 10-3 season and a victory in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in 2014. After going 8-6 in 2015, the Falcons rebounded for another 10-win season in 2016.

Air Force rewards Troy Calhoun with new 5-year contract

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Coming off the first 10-win season at Air Force since the 1998 season, head coach Troy Calhoun has been given a brand new contract. The academy announced the new contract agreement Wednesday. Calhoun received a new five-year contract that keeps him as head coach through the 2019 season.

“Troy Calhoun has been a great inspiration to our future Air Force officers,” Air Force Director of Athletics Dr. Hans Mueh said in a released statement. “His priorities in coaching are clearly in line with the goals of the Air Force Academy, so we are delighted to be able to extend Troy’s contract for another five years.”

The value of Calhoun’s new deal has not been reported. Calhoun received a total pay of $892,750 in 2014 according to USA Today‘s database of college football salaries. That made Calhoun the fourth highest-paid coach in the Mountain West Conference, trailing Colorado State’s Jim McElwain (now at Florida), Fresno State’s Tim DeRuyter and Boise State’s Bryan Harsin.

Calhoun took over the Air Force program in 2007. Since being named the head coach of the Falcons, Calhoun has gone 59-44 with three bowl victories in seven postseason trips. In 2014 Calhoun turned around the program in impressive fashion. Winners of two games in 2013, Air Force reversed a three-year downward trend to win 10 games with a bowl victory in 2014. It may have saved his job as head coach at Air Force, and now he has a little more job security.

College Football Playoff is ‘un-American’ according to Air Force head coach

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Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun isn’t a fan of the College Football Playoff. Calhoun went as far as describing college football’s new postseason as “un-American.”

When college football decided to adapt its system to a four-team playoff, it was clear that programs from “Group of Five” conference would be non-factors in the final decisions. Only those teams in the ACC, Big 10 Conference, Big 12 Conference (OK, maybe not), Pac-12 Conference, SEC as well as Notre Dame would be seriously considered for the two semifinal games.

Programs outside of the powers conferences aren’t happy with the glass ceiling that is now in place. Calhoun clumsily illustrated his point when he discussed the matter Friday.

“There’s no doubt that it’s all set up for five conferences, as it is,” Calhoun told the Colorado Springs Gazette. “You’ve got to be in one of those five conferences.

“It’s un-American, bottom line. We live in a country where upward mobility is possible, where games should be played out on the field.”

While Calhoun has a point about the smaller conferences being excluded, his argument lacks substance at this particular juncture. Air Force finished the season 9-3. Only one team outside of the Power Five conferences finished with at least an 12-1 record. And Marshall’s schedule this season was laughable compared to those teams in the bigger conferences.

The No. 20 Boise State Broncos eventually claimed the lone berth into an access bowl (Fiesta Bowl) granted to the best team in the Group of Five. But none of those teams were ever in serious consideration for one of the top four spots.

However, this is yet another opportunity for advocates of an eight-team playoff to push for change even before the first year of the new system is complete.

House representative Joe Barton (Texas) railed against the system during a recent interview on the “Capital Games” podcast, via ABCnews.com.

“The system as they have it now is going to fail every year,” Barton said. “You can’t squeeze all that sausage into the sack. There’s going to be a few teams left out. So they need to go to at least eight teams, and it wouldn’t be the end of the world if they went to 12 — with first-round byes — or to 16.”

Of course, Barton is primarily representing his constituency by denouncing a system that left TCU and Baylor out of the equation. These types of gripes will continue every year, though, because the playoff is currently set up to leave multiple deserving teams out in the cold.

Following injury, Air Force RB must earn his jersey back

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One of the basic principles most coaches will abide by in sports is a player will never lose a job due to injury. There are exceptions to that mantra, of course, but one has to wonder to what degree Air Force is taking it. Running back Devin Rushing, who missed the last 10 days of practice due to an ankle sprain suffered in a drill, says not only must he earn his starting job back, but also his jersey. His actual jersey.

“They took my jersey,” Rushing told The Gazette. “I talked to the equipment manager and he said my jersey is still in there with Rushing written on the back, but I’ve got to earn it back.”

That’s right. He must earn his actual jersey back. If you have a problem with that, Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun seems to think players who have a history of getting hurt may be better off finding some other activity to participate in.

“I think at every position we’re going to have tough, durable guys,” Calhoun said. “If you aren’t, you’re going to get us beat. I think the other thing is you have a built-in alibi if you’re a guy who gets hurt easily. If you’re a guy who gets hurt easily, you need to find another activity where there’s not contact involved.”

Injured players at Air Force reportedly wear red jerseys in practice and are isolated to watch the practice rather than kept close to the action, where they can hear what coaches are saying and see up close what is happening on the field. Calhoun says this is used to enhance the chemistry on the field more than anything else.

“They go to meetings,” Calhoun said. “I just think you either add to the chemistry or take from the chemistry. There’s no in between. If you’re a red jersey, I just don’t want anybody sucking the life out of everybody else who is working. Who is able to go out there even if they have an itch somewhere?”

“I think a warrior wants to be in battle, and we want warriors,” Calhoun explained.

This might not be the best way to change a potential image issue for Air Force’s football program.

Report: Air Force’s football and athletics culture requires a deeper investigation

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Disturbing findings within the Air Force athletics culture will lead to a more thorough examination of the program, including the football team. An investigative report by The Gazette found Air Force cadet athletes violated the academy’s honor code by committing sexual assaults, drug use, cheating and more. At the same time, an apparent concern over winning football games and raising more money from alumni donors took preference over taking action against the student-athletes. Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson informed The Gazette the Inspector General has been requested to conduct a deeper investigation of the athletic department.

The biggest part of the report centers around a wild party from 2011, which resulted in the probing of 32 cadets. The party reportedly involved to rampant drug use and alleged date rape drinks leading to sexual intercourse. Half of those questioned (16) about the activities at the party were members of the Air Force football team. Three of the 32 questioned cadets would later be court-martialed, sentenced and discharged, including a pair of football players. Two more football players received administrative punishment and were dismissed. Air Force’s athletic director, Hans Mueh, claimed to not know anything about the 2011 investigation conducted by the Office of Special Investigations until after Air Force played in the 2011 Military Bowl in Washington D.C. (a 42-41 loss to Toledo). The football players involved with the questioning in the investigation played in that bowl game.

Another investigation into activities of football players was later labeled a success by OSI. According to the report, OSI special agent Brandon Enos helped lead Operation Gridiron at the United States Air Force Academy, which identified and removed a total of 18 football players from the program as a result of their involvement in various drug-related use and distribution and sexual assaults.

The damage does not end there for Air Force, at least as far as football is concerned. More details from the investigative report suggest Air Force allowed students to enroll at the academy that did not meet the honor code, many coming after 2008 following the hiring of head coach Troy Calhoun. Calhoun is among the highest paid employee at Air Force. Mueh again falls under scrutiny for allowing standards to be lowered in athletics with regard to the honor code.

There is also the connection to Lt. General Mike Gould, who was in his position during the time of much of the reported misconduct at Air Force. According to the report, Gould emailed instructions to someone tied to a raid on Air Force dorms for suspected drug use demanding a short report lacking enough details to avoid an increased concern to the Pentagon. Why is this rather significant?

And now the College Football Playoff has its first scandal in need of addressing. That is important on a smaller scale though, of course. For now, the concern needs to be placed on the Air Force athletics department. This comes at a time when the actions within the nation’s military has fallen under tighter scrutiny in recent years with issues like hazing and sexual assault. All services and academies continue to face their issues and sometimes ripping off the band-aid is what is needed for sweeping changes to be made.

You can read the entire investigative report for more information and details regarding various concerns within the Air Force athletics community.