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The last time the Navy Midshipmen won the national championship…

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Our series of posts looking back at the last time various college football programs have won the national championship have predictably focused on power conference programs around the country. Over the course of time, a handful of national powers have faded into our rearview mirrors or simply adjusted to the new landscape of college football and athletics by accepting the reality. Despite a couple of down years for the Navy football program lately, the Ken Niumatalolo era in Annapolis has been one overflowing with pride and accomplishments. But you have to go all the way back to before World War II to recognize the last time the Midshipmen stood at attention above the entire college football world.

The year was 1926 the last time Navy football reigned supreme, and it remains the only year to see Navy claim a national championship. In the first season under new head coach (and a former Navy football player) Bill Ingram. The Indiana native and future College Football Hall of Fame coach returned to his alma mater after a few mediocre seasons with Indiana, but he clicked immediately with Navy. With All-American Frank Wickhorst leading the way up front on the offensive line, Navy’s offense was able to thrive on the ground long before the idea of the triple-option became the norm for the program. Navy opened the season with a 17-13 victory over Purdue and continued to flx their dominance with double-digit victories in their next three games, including a road win at Princeton.

Navy’s biggest win of the year came just before Halloween with a matchup against the 4-0 Michigan Wolverines, who were obliterating everybody in their sight under head coach Fielding Yost. With a packed house to see the game in Baltimore, Navy held their own with a scoreless first half and then upset the Wolverines with a 10-0 victory. It was the only loss of the season for Michigan and may have cost the Wolverines their own claim to a national title that season.

Navy ended their season with the annual Army-Navy Game, this time being played as the inaugural event for Chicago’s brand new Soldier Field. A victory would have given Navy as strong a case as possible for a national championship, but the Midshipmen tied their arch rivals from West Point despite jumping out to a 14-0 lead in the game. A missed Army field goal late in the game led to the game ending in a 21-21 tie. Navy’s perfect season was scratched but a record of 9-0-1 was nothing to shrug about. The national title claim would have to be shared, however, as undefeated Stanford and Alabama played to a tie in the Rose Bowl that same season while Navy did not play in a bowl game. Alabama and Stanford are recognized as national champions for the 1926 season depending on the poll you prefer, but Navy stakes a claim too thanks to the Boand System.

There was no AP poll. And there was no coaches poll. And there was clearly no College Football Playoff or BCS formula to rely on. In a time with so few bowl games you could count

Last National Championship Season: 1926 (92 years and counting)

Who was President?

As the country celebrated its 150th year of independence, Calvin Coolidge was sitting in the White House as President of the United States. Coolidge sat in the Oval Office as the Roaring Twenties were in full bloom less than a decade after the conclusion of the first World War.

What was on TV?

Nothing. Not yet, at least.

In 1926, America was still years away from getting hooked on TV so it was the radio that kept people entertained. Even then, the radio scene was still in its earliest forms and just getting started. Radio broadcasts were still going on the air for the first time in many parts of the world as radio communication was becoming as vital and important to people as ever before.

TV was beginning to be used in the government to transmit data such as weather maps, but we were still a long way away from the age of your local meteorologists giving you the seven-day forecast and weekend weather updates while you are eating dinner. It is worth noting that the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) began operation on the radio waves in 1926. NBC went on the air with 26 radio affiliates.

What movies were hot?

The box office sales figures from 1926 compared to today show we have come a long way to how much revenue is generated. In 1926, the biggest hit at the box office was Aloma of the South Seas, which raked in a cool $3 million worldwide to top For Heaven’s Sake and The Son of the Sheik for the top spot in the box office gross earnings. The latest Avengers movie probably did $3 million in its first 4 seconds once tickets went on sale.

This was still the age of the silent film, however, so people weren’t seeing movies with any actual dialogue they could hear, although the release of Don Juan introduced new sound technology that would allow viewers to hear both music and sound effects at the same time. That was quite a leap in technology.

If you were looking for some good laughs at the box office, then you were likely relying on the comedic stylings of Charlie Chaplin or Laurel and Hardy.

And long before Walt Disney took the animation world by storm, the animated short film genre was led by Felix the Cat.

What else happened in 1926?

Rogers Hornsby and the St. Louis Cardinals top Babe Ruth, and Lou Gehrig and the New York Yankees to win their first World Series title in franchise history.

The NFL played its seventh season in existence, with the Frankford Yellow Jackets winning the championship. Their only loss that year was a 7-6 setback against the Providence Steam Roller. The NFL has come a long way.

Michigan and Northwestern split the Western conference championship. Stanford took the Pacific Coast Conference title before facing Southern Conference (not SEC) champion Alabama. Oklahoma State celebrated a Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship and SMU was champion of the Southwest Conference. Not even the Ivy League was in existence yet, leaving schools like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton to be football independents like Notre Dame, Army, Penn State, West Virginia, Pitt, Duke, and Wake Forest (and more).

The United States began using a standardized number system for the country’s expanding highway system.

You didn’t want to mess with Al Capone. He was fairly powerful at this time.

The legendary Bing Crosby recorded his first record with a recording of “I’ve Got a Girl.” Gene Austin also had a hit with “Bye Bye Blackbird,” and Duke Ellington had people dancing to “East St. Louis Toodle-Oo.”

Navy football today

Navy would go on to have some of the best college football teams the program ever had in the 1940s, perhaps not quite by coincidence either given the climate in the world at the time. Wayne Hardin would coach some national championship caliber teams in the 1960s as well, but Navy’s shot at winning a national championship have far been removed as a realistic scenario over the course of college football’s evolution and growth.

The reality of today’s game is Navy will likely never claim a national championship again unless they go the route of UCF. After decades of playing as an independent, Navy dropped anchor in the American Athletic Conference and seems to have found a good situation. The Midshipmen have had some great seasons in the conference already, although with no conference championship to claim just yet. But the security of being in a conference and the flexibility granted to Navy to allow the annual Army-Navy Game to be played ensures Navy football will continue to be in a good spot for the foreseeable future.

Navy is now coming off its first losing season since 2011 and hopes to return to the conference championship contender Niumatalolo has developed in recent years. After three straight years of seeing fewer wins than the previous season, it may be time for Navy to start getting back on track.

Middle Tennessee State brings back ex-Blue Raiders RB Shane Tucker as grad assistant

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There will be a very familiar face in the Middle Tennessee State football building when the Conference USA school reconvenes.

Memorial Day, Middle Tennessee State announced that Shane Tucker has been added to the extended football staff.  Specifically, Tucker will serve as a graduate assistant for Rick Stockstill.  Tucker will work on the offensive side of the ball for the Blue Raiders.

From 2013-2017, Tucker was a running back at MTSU.  And a wide receiver as well.

In 39 appearances, Tucker started 17 of those games.  He started contests in 2013 (three), 2014 (two), 2015 (four) and 2017 (eight).  The Memphis native’s 2016 season ended before it started because of an offseason injury.

During his time in Murfreesboro, Tucker ran for 1,162 yards and 15 touchdowns on 271 carries.  He also caught 67 passed for 869 yards and another seven touchdowns.

In 2014, Tucker earned honorable mention All-Conference USA honors.  As a fifth-year senior in 2017, he was named a permanent captain.

Middle Tennessee State is coming off a 4-8 2019 football campaign.  That was the program’s worst record since going 2-10 in 2011.  MTSU also saw its school-record streak of bowl appearances end at four in a row.

One of the players Tucker Will Likely work with?  Martell Pettaway.  The West Virginia running back transferred to the Conference USA school in January.

Ex-Georgia State RB Gerald Howse, 28, found dead in his home

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Georgia State is mourning the loss of a member of its football family.

Sunday, Georgia State announced the passing of former Panther football player Gerald Howse.  Howse was just 28.

According to one report, Howse was found dead at his home in Cookeville, Tenn.  A cause of death has not yet been released.

From GSU’s release:

Howse, from Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Siegel High School, lettered at running back for the Panthers in 2013-14 after transferring from NE Oklahoma A&M.

After graduating with his degree in sociology, he entered the coaching profession, beginning with stints at Oklahoma Baptist (2015) and NE Oklahoma A&M (2016-19). He was honored as the NJCAA Top Assistant Coach in 2017.

In January of 2020, Howse was named as the running backs coach at Tennessee Tech of the FCS.  The football program’s head coach, Dewayne Alexander, released a statement addressing his assistant’s passing as well.

Gerald was a first-class young man. He was highly thought of by so many people. His coaches at Siegel High School – Greg Wyatt and David Watson – always brought him up whenever we had positions come open. He displayed a very positive attitude. He was a man of character who lived out faith, family and football. He was so close to his family – his mom, dad and sister – that it was one of the biggest reasons he came here to Tennessee Tech: coach in the area, be back in Middle Tennessee and be close to his family. He was an outstanding coach and a man every coach would want on his staff. Gerald made a huge impact on our players in the short time he was here. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends, as well as the Tennessee Tech football family. Anytime you lose a staff member, it affects a lot of people.

Pac-12 targets June 15 for return of players for voluntary in-person workouts

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The Pac-12 is the latest to contribute to the measured return of college football.

Last week, the NCAA announced that it would allow schools to bring its student-athletes back to campus for voluntary workouts starting June 1. Friday, the SEC announced that it will allow players to return starting June 8.  That same day, the Big 12 announced its target date is June 15.

Monday, the Pac-12 followed the Big 12’s lead, with that Power Five confirming a return date of June 15 for voluntary in-person athletic workouts. The league came to its decision to allow student-athletes to return to campus following a meeting of the Pac-12 CEO Group earlier in the day.

The conference also made sure to note in its release that the universities will “determine whether and how to open its sporting facilities in accordance with relevant county and state guidelines.”

“As educational institutions, our highest obligation is to the health and welfare of our students, faculty, and staff,” said Pac-12 CEO Group Chair and University of Colorado Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano in a statement. “As we considered the pros and cons of taking steps that can pave a path to returning to play, those considerations were foremost, guided by the advice of our own medical experts along with public health officials.”

“The Pac-12 is committed to the well-being of our student-athletes, and the decision to allow for voluntary workouts, subject to a determination by each school, is guided by the advice of our medical experts and will be supported by the detailed protocols established by our medical advisory committee in concert with our campus’ own safety guidelines,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “As states have either already opened or begin to open up access to parks, gyms and other training facilities, student-athletes should have the option at this time to be in, what for many, will be a much safer environment on campus, where they can have access to the best available health, well-being and training support.”

The ACC and Big Ten are the only Power Fives to not announce a uniform plan for a return.  Both Ohio State and Illinois, though, will allow players to return June 8, for example.  Ditto for Clemson and Louisville as well.

Arizona’s leader in receiving yards underwent surgery on a fractured foot earlier this month

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A key piece of the passing game for Arizona football is recovering from a health issue.  Fortunately, it doesn’t appear it will impact his availability for the upcoming season.

Prior to Arizona shuttering spring football practice because of the coronavirus pandemic, Jamarye Joiner suffered a fractured left foot.  It was reported at the time that the wide receiver was “believed to have suffered a Jones fracture, which is a break between the base of the foot and the fifth metatarsal.”

According to The Athletic, Joiner underwent surgery to repair the damage May 12.  The procedure was delayed as elective surgeries were scuttled because of the pandemic.

The same website reported that the receiver will be sidelined for a period of 6-12 weeks.  Such a timeline would extend, at the long end, to early August.  Arizona is scheduled to open the 2020 football season Aug. 29 against Hawaii.

Joiner was a three-star member of the Arizona football Class of 2018.  The Tucson native was rated as the No. 6 prospect regardless of position in the state of Arizona.

Originally signing as a quarterback, Joiner completed three of his four pass attempts for 17 yards in two games a true freshman.  Playing in less than four games allowed Joiner to preserve a year of eligibility.

Prior to the start of summer camp, Joiner made the move from quarterback to wide receiver.  In his first season at the position, the redshirt freshman led the Wildcats in receiving yards with 552 and receiving touchdowns with five.  His 34 receptions were third on the team, while his 16.2 yards per catch was second among the nine players with at least 10 receptions.

Arizona head football coach Kevin Sumlin this month became one of a handful of coaches to take a pay cut.