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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.

Third Virginia Tech transfer this offseason lands at Maryland

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Blacksburg has become quite the fertile recruiting ground for Mike Locksley’s first-year Maryland football program.

In January, wide receiver Sean Savoy completed his transfer from Virginia Tech by moving on to Maryland; four months later, Savoy’s former teammate, Josh Jackson, became his current teammate yet again as the quarterback moved to the Terrapins from the Hokies. Wednesday, Dejuan Ellis indicated that he will join those former teammates as he too has decided to transfer to the Terps.

The wide receiver had opted to transfer from the Hokies earlier this offseason.

Ellis was a three-star member of Tech’s 2018 recruiting class. The Owings Mills, MD, native took a redshirt as a true freshman.

It’s believed the receiver will be forced to sit out the 2019 season, leaving him with three years of eligibility moving forward.

Another family takes issue with Michigan’s handling of a transfer

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Here we go. Again.

Quite the kerfuffle was kicked up earlier this month when Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell and the family of James Hudson, who transferred from Michigan to UC late last year, accused the offensive lineman’s former school in general and its head football coach specifically of not doing enough — or doing the absolute bare minimum — when it came to an immediate-eligibility waiver being sought by the player. Despite the citing of mental health issues, that appeal was denied.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Myles Sims had his appeal for a waiver for immediate eligibility at Georgia Tech denied as well. The defensive back had transferred to Tech from Michigan earlier this offseason.

In a conversation this week with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sims’ parents laid the onus for their son’s denial squarely at the feet of the University of Michigan, intimating, as Hudson’s family did, that U-M did the absolute bare minimum when it came to the waiver process. Even worse, Sims’ family claimed U-M misled the NCAA by providing inaccurate information.

From the Journal-Constitution:

They also believe that a statement from Michigan regarding his transfer – a required part of the application process for a waiver – included inaccurate information about his reasons for leaving that could have damaged his chances for receiving a waiver.

“The disappointment is in knowing that they included just a few words outside of what we said to mislead the NCAA in their decision-making,” Katrina Sims, Myles’ mother, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday. “Whether that weighed in heavily or not on the documentation that we provided, we take issue with that.

The newspaper also wrote that “[a] Michigan team spokesman stated that the school, as is the case with all transfers leaving the school seeking waivers, did not oppose Sims’ waiver request and followed standard policy.”

I don’t know who’s right or who’s wrong in these situations, but I do know it’s something that will be discussed on the recruiting trail and used by rival schools in luring and/or flipping potential prospects.  So, do the bare minimum in such situations at your own peril.

Lack of class credits behind eligibility issue as Quintez Cephus returns to football practice at Wisconsin

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Now we officially know the rest of the story. How it will ultimately all play out, though, is decidedly uncertain.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison announced Monday that Quintez Cephus had been reinstated and is again a student in good standing at the school, two weeks after being found not guilty on a pair of sexual assault charges and almost immediately seeking reinstatement.  Initially, there was some uncertainty when it came to the wide receiver’s status with the football team; in a statement released a few hours after the reinstatement affirmation, UW confirmed that Cephus had indeed rejoined the Badgers team.

The school did note in that release, though, that they “are working through eligibility issues before he can participate in a game.” Wednesday, the same day Cephus returned to practice with the rest of his Badger teammates, Paul Chryst expounded on the eligibility issue, telling reporters that it revolves around the lack of class credits, which stemmed from his expulsion from the school before the spring semester this year ended.

At this point, whether the credit issue can be successfully navigated before the Badgers’ open the 2019 season the weekend after next remains to be seen.

Two days after very loudly proclaiming his innocence and announcing he was taking a leave of absence from the Wisconsin football team, Cephus was charged in late August of last year with felony sexual assault of an intoxicated victim and felony sexual assault.  The criminal complaint filed against him stated that he allegedly “sexually assaulted two drunken women at once in the bedroom of his apartment in April” of 2018.

It took a jury of his peers less than 45 minutes to acquit him on both of those counts earlier this month.

Cephus was initially suspended by the Badgers football program before being expelled by the university last semester.  In October of last year, Cephus sued the University of Wisconsin-Madison in U.S. District Court, claiming that the school violated his constitutional rights.  That suit was dropped in March of this year.

In 2017, and despite missing the last five games because of a broken leg, Cephus led the run-centric Badgers in receiving touchdowns with six and yards per catch at 16.7.  His 501 receiving yards were good for second, while his 30 receptions were third on the team.  Because of the off-field situation that led to the suspension, Cephus didn’t play at all in 2018.

Including this season, Cephus has two years of eligibility he can use.

RB who transferred from UTEP to Georgia Southern this offseason reverses course, returns to Miners

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Who says you can’t go home again, even in the same offseason?

Joshua Fields left UTEP earlier this offseason and, in June of this year, enrolled in classes at Georgia Southern as he was set to continue his collegiate playing career with the Eagles. It was also reported that the running back would seek a waiver from the NCAA that would grant him immediate eligibility at the Sun Belt Conference school.

Fast-forward two months, though, and it’s now being reported that Fields has decided to reverse course and return to the Miners. That development came a couple of days after the Eagles confirmed in a statement that Fields was no longer a part of the program.

Joshua left the team early in camp. We wish him the best of luck moving forward.

According to the El Paso Times, Fields initially left the Miners because of a family member’s health issue, “but those circumstances changed and now he is back with his family in El Paso.” The Times also reports that Fields should be eligible to play for UTEP this season, presumably because he never attended classes at GSU despite enrolling at the university.

Clarification on his status could come as early as Thursday.

In 2017, Fields’ 362 yards rushing (on 89 carries) were tops on the Miners. According to the school at the time, Fields was the first true freshman to lead the team in rushing since 2013.

This past season, however, Fields’ production dipped to 57 yards on 31 attempts, which works out to just 1.8 yards per carry. That yards-per-attempt figure was the lowest among all FBS running backs with at least 30 carries last year.