Students at Army serve in the United States military after graduation and it is that institution that creates the regulations that affect the football team. Additionally, Army’s educational standards and requirements limit its ability to recruit top athletes.
That said, the football team is, and always has been, “all heart.” Its players leave everything on the gridiron. But, because the skill level of the players is below that of the players on most of the teams they play, Army usually suffers through losing seasons.
It happened last year, in 2014. The Black Knights, who are independent and not affiliated with any conference, produced a Won-Loss record of 4-8 for rookie Head Coach Jeff Monken. Included in that loss total was a defeat to the team’s arch rival, the U.S. Naval Academy.
It seems to be happening with disturbing regularity, but the Midshipmen have been winning the annual battle just about every year. It may be why Army has been changing coaches with what may seem to some to be alarming frequency.
Coach Monken, now in his second year, is trying to change the culture of the squad by instilling a “can do” and winning attitude. It hasn’t worked yet, although the Black Knights are certainly competitive.
The new season for this team began on Friday night, September 4th when the Black Knights hosted a team from Fordham University and lost a squeaker. The final score was 37-35. The following week, on September 12th, Army’s football team traveled to the University of Connecticut where the home team Huskies prevailed by a score of 21-17.
Week three produced more of the same. The Black Knights hosted a squad from Wake Forest University and lost a tight game by a final score of 17-14. There are no moral victories in college football so losing game by just a few points does little to make the players and Coach Monken feel better.
Perhaps the team will do better in its remaining home and away games. The Black Knights will host the Blue Devils of Duke University on October 10th, Bucknell University on October 17th, the University of Tulane on November 14th, the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers University on November 21st and the U.S. Naval Academy on December 12th.
A win for the Black Knights against Navy will make their season a success. Of course, there are still road games that need to be played.
Army is visiting Eastern Michigan today, September 26th. The Black Knights will then play Penn State University on October 3rd, the Rice Owls on October 24th and the Air Force Academy on November 7th.
Every remaining game presents the Black Knights with a tough challenge. But this team is courageous and passionate. Coach Monken can count on maximum effort from his squad on every down in every game.
Hopefully, that kind of effort will result in some wins.