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Army feted at White House after winning first Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy in two decades

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It took more than two decades, but Army has, by way of the President of the United States of America, finally gotten its hands again on some significant service academy football hardware.

In December, Army beat Navy when its rival’s last-second field-goal attempt fell short.  Combined with Army’s win over Air Force earlier in the season, it meant that the Black Knights had staked its claim to the 2017 version of the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, handed out annually since 1972 to the service academy that wins that season’s three-way football series.

The last time Army won the trophy (1996), the president was Bill Clinton; this time around, the Oval Office is occupied by Donald Trump, who in a White House ceremony Tuesday afternoon awarded the trophy to the reigning service academy champions.

The Black Knights will be looking to win back-to-back Commander-in-Chief Trophies for the first time in the honor’s history.  All told, Army has claimed the trophy seven times, compared to 20 for Air Force and 15 for Navy.  On four occasions (1974, 1976, 1980, 1993) the award was shared, with the winner the previous year retaining possession of the physical trophy.

Army is the second college football team to visit the White House this offseason.  Earlier this month, Alabama, with Nick Saban famously calling recruits during it, took its trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to celebrate the Crimson Tide claiming the 2017 national championship.

Cal hires Air Force AD Jim Knowlton

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Cal has hired Air Force athletics director Jim Knowlton to the same post, the Bears announced Monday.

Knowlton had been Air Force’s AD since 2015, and prior to that held a similar post at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a Division III school in Troy, N.Y., from 2008-15.

“By virtue of his experience, values and personal attributes, Jim stood out in what was a large and deeply talented pool of applicants,” Cal Berkeley chancellor Carol Christ said in a statement. “He is an excellent communicator who thrives on challenges, and shares my commitment to excellence, integrity and diversity. I am certain he will be the thought partner I sought, and the leader our campus needs at this pivotal time so that we can, together, usher in a new era of excellence for Cal Athletics.”

Prior to working in college athletics, Knowlton spent 26 years of service in the U.S. Army. He taught in the civil and mechanical engineering department at West Point, headed a battalion of 750 soldiers in Iraq, and left the Army as a colonel. He also worked as an assistant AD at Army.

“I am thrilled to join the University of California, Berkeley family!,” Knowlton said. “I am thankful for the trust and confidence of Chancellor Christ, and am extremely impressed with her vision along with the passion, commitment and dedication of the entire search committee. I look forward to connecting with our exceptional student-athletes, faculty, coaches and staff on campus, along with our alumni, supporters and the Berkeley community.

“Cal has all the ingredients to be incredible on and off the field and I’m excited for the challenge to have our athletic teams and student-athletes win the right way at the highest levels. We will excel in the classroom, on our campus and in our community, and incorporate dignity and respect in all we do.”

He takes over a football program that went 5-7 in head coach Justin Wilcox‘s first season.

Knowlton will officially take over on May 21.

Notre Dame next up for outdoor NHL game; Army, Air Force could be future hosts

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The NHL’s latest outdoor extravaganza was conducted on Sunday in Navy’s football stadium, and it appears other service academies could be in line for future consideration to host an outdoor NHL game.

“It’s unique and as we continue to move forward with the outdoor games, you look for new concepts and new themes and new things that’ll interest the fans,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press on Saturday. “Certainly the hope is, with a successful game (at Navy), we’ll continue the venture with the Army and the Air Force and we’ll see where we go from there.”

The feedback from the experience at Navy has seemingly been positive, aside from a power outage during the game. And because of the latest positive experience for the NHL, a future date for an outdoor game on the campus of a service academy seems like an easy decision to make, be it at Army or Air Force. Both would provide some unique atmospheres for an outdoor game and would be a good way to bring the game to those training to be a part of the United States’ military.

For now, the next outdoor NHL game scheduled to appear inside a college football stadium will be held next season in South Bend, Indiana when Notre Dame Stadium sets the stage for a game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins. Notre Dame Stadium will be the second college football stadium to host an NHL Winter Classic, joining Michigan Stadium (2014; Detroit Red Wings vs. Toronto Maple Leafs). Notre Dame Stadium will be the fourth college football stadium to host an outdoor game, with Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium hosting a Stadium Series game in 2016 and Navy’s Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium doing the honors this past weekend.

Heinz Field, home to the Pitt Panthers and the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, hosted an NHL Stadium Series game in 2017. Lincoln Financial Field, home to the Temple Owls and the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, will host a Stadium Series game next February. Both games have involved the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Flyers. Penn State’s Beaver Stadium has long been discussed as a potential outdoor venue for the Penguins and Flyers, although that idea may be on ice until after Penn State renovates Beaver Stadium to be able to accommodate such an event that time of year.

Kentucky’s newest assistant spent last six seasons with NFL’s Colts

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In filling the 10th spot on his Kentucky coaching staff, Mark Stoops opted for a coach who’s spent that past few seasons away from the college game.

In confirming previous reports, the Wildcats announced Thursday that Brad White has been hired as UK’s outside linebackers coach. White comes to Lexington after spending the past six seasons with the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.

“When I talked to Brad, he impressed me with his expertise, his NFL experience and what a very, very good technician he is,” said Stoops in a statement. “Brad came highly recommended from people I know at Indianapolis. In addition to his knowledge of coaching linebackers, he has ‘big picture’ expertise.”

With the Colts, White served as the outside linebackers coach (2015-17), assistant linebackers coach (2014) and defensive quality control coach (2012-13).

White’s last job at the collegiate level came as the inside linebackers coach at Air Force from 2010-11. His first on-field job was as safeties coach at FCS Murray State in 2009.

“My wife and I are really excited and grateful to Coach Stoops for the opportunity to join the Kentucky family,” White said. “Kentucky is a program on the rise. I’ve been very impressed with how Coach Stoops is building this team. I’m especially impressed with the linebackers. They are a diverse group with rising seniors and talented young players all showing they can be successful in the SEC. I’m eager to get started.”

White’s hiring triggered a couple of moves within Stoops’ staff, with Dean Hood moving to the defensive secondary to work in tandem with that group with Steve Clinkscale. Hood will continue on as special teams coordinator.

College Football Playoff reveals new chairperson, six new selection committee members

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As expected, the group that will determine the four playoff semifinalists next season will have a new leader — with the group consisting of new members as well.

The College Football Playoff announced Wednesday that Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens has been named as the selection committee’s new chairperson.  Mullens replaces Kirby Hocutt, the Texas Tech athletic director whose two-year term is expiring Feb. 1.

Former Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long was the first CFP chair (2014-15).

“We are delighted that Rob will be stepping into this role,” CFP executive director Bill Hancock said in a statement. “He is an experienced committee member, extremely passionate about college football, detail-oriented and brings a high level of energy that is perfectly suited to chairing the committee.”

As chairman, the press release stated, “Mullens will set the selection committee’s agenda, run its meetings and serve as the spokesman for the committee along with Hancock.”

“College football plays a vital role in intercollegiate athletics, and it is an honor to continue to serve on the CFP Selection Committee,” said Mullens. “I look forward to partnering with the other committee members and the staff to build on the strong foundation which has been created in the first four years of the CFP.”

Additionally, the CFP announced six new committee members:

  • Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, as previously reported
  • Former journalist/current journalism professor Paola Boivin
  • Former Rice/Clemson/Arkansas/Air Force head coach Ken Hatfield
  • College and NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott
  • Georgia Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury
  • Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin

There were five members whose terms are set to expire at the beginning of next month: Clemson AD Dan Radakovich, Arkansas AD Jeff Long, former NCAA executive Tom Jernstedt, former Stanford/Notre Dame/Washington head coach Tyrone Willingham, former Vanderbilt head coach Bobby Johnson and former journalist Steve Wieberg.

The six additions bring the committee back to a dozen voters, including Robert Morris president Christopher B. Howard (term expires in Feb. of 2020), former Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer (2020), Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith (2020), former Southern Miss head coach Jeff Bower (2019), former Central Michigan head coach Herb Deromedi (2019) and Mullen (2019).