Troy Calhoun

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Five New Mexico football players took a knee during national anthem performance


The news centering on football players taking a knee during the national anthem has largely been an issue playing out in the NFL but has trickled down to the high school level. College football tends to stay out of the issue since most pregame ceremonies occur with college football players in the locker room. But because weather wiped out the typical pregame pomp and circumstance prior to Saturday night’s New Mexico vs. Air Force game, players were on the field as the national anthem was performed, oddly enough, at halftime.

Five players from New Mexico’s football team — defensive end Garrett Hughes, safety Stanley Barnwell, cornerback Elijah Lilly, safety Michael Sewell, and linebacker Kimmie Carson — all were seen taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem.

Both teams remained on the field during halftime rather than retreating to their locker rooms due to a shortened halftime break. The game scheduled was modified due to a weather delay. New Mexico head coach Bob Davie said it was agreed there would be no playing of the national anthem during the halftime, so he was surprised when it was played and to learn some of his players chose to take a knee the way a number of NFL players have recently.

“I’d like to have the opportunity to visit with our players, talk about what our stance would be, unified as a football team,” Davie said, according to the Albuquerque Journal. “I kind of got shocked by that. I wouldn’t want to judge or have too much of a critique, at least speaking from my standpoint, as far as a total football team. Because in fairness to them, I never really talked to them about it.”

Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun was asked about the situation after the game (no Air Force players were seen taking a knee), and he showed no ill-will over the decision.

“That’s their right,” he said. “They live in a country where they’re allowed to do that.”


Troy Calhoun has the worst College Football Playoff expansion idea yet

AP Photo/Tony Ding

There is nothing wrong with trying to think of ways for a sport or a product to improve. Sometimes that means spitballing ideas on a board just to see what sticks. Most of the time, those ideas thrown around will be complete garbage, such as Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun‘s idea to improve the College Football Playoff if/when it expands to an eight-team format.

Calhoun’s idea for the College Football Playoff is to expand to eight teams with each power conference champion receiving an automatic bid, two wild card slots and one guaranteed bid for the best Group of Five conference champion. If it were just that, Calhoun has my support as this is the exact outline I have advocated. But it is how Calhoun wants the Group of Five team to be selected for the guaranteed spot.

Calhoun wants a four-team playoff between Group of Five programs to determine the final College Football Playoff spot.

That, folks, is a horrible idea.

“I think it would, really, bring a wholeness that would be splendid for the spirit of college football,” Calhoun said, according to The Gazette.

No, stop it. Why should the Group of Five have to play additional games on top of their 12-13 game schedule that includes a conference championship game (the Sun Belt will begin playing a championship game in 2018), two more postseason games just to get into the College Football Playoff? That schedule would be brutal, not to mention the wear-and-tear on players playing for programs that lag behind the state-of-the-art facilities the power conference programs have.

Let’s take Navy, for example.

Let’s say the Midshipmen play for and win the AAC Championship. They then go on to play Army the following week in the annual Army-Navy Game. Immediately after that, I assume, they would have to play a semifinal Group of Five playoff game. Win that, and they play again the next week for the Group of Five spot in the College Football Playoff. That leaves little recovery and prep time for their first College Football Playoff opponent, which likely has to be played the following week before the semifinals are played New Years weekend.

Navy may be the extreme scenario, but regardless of what team you use as an example, the overall result is the same. You can’t make cases to improve player safety and have a playoff just to get into a playoff.

I applaud your willingness to think outside the box, Troy Calhoun, but this plan still needs some major retooling.

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


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


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

“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.