Cancellation of Army’s Game vs. Air Force Has Jeff Monken Miffed
Army’s Coach Alleges Scared Money
Army Wants to Play Air Force in Parking Lot Matchup
The heading above is stated with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Well, it is for me at least, but I’m not going to suggest thst I know how serious Army football coach Jeff Monken was when he suggested this.
It pains me to even put the words together for this article, simply because of the vast respect I have for the military academies, their players and coaches. I’m not a veteran, I didn’t graduate from an Academy and I don’t delight in seeing Army and Navy lose, unless it’s to Air Force. I know that may be difficult for some of my dear friends in Colorado Springs to read, but it’s true.
As most are aware, tomorrow’s matchup between Army and Air Force, which was slated to be played in West Point was cancelled (with the potential to reschedule for December), citing “COVID-19 related concerns”. The reason issued by the Air Force Academy may seem a little vague, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Nor should it come as a surprise that any school would reasonably have to postpone or cancel a game due to COVID-19 related matters.
In fact, we’ve already seen nearly 50 games impacted by the wretched virus this year, but this one in particular made coach Monken irate. So much so, he intimated that Air Force may not necessarily be cancelling the game because of the virus, but because of injuries (see 247sports write up for more) and a lack of desire.
— Sal Interdonato (@salinterdonato) November 6, 2020
As part of his rant, the Army coach also proclaimed they were willing to and suggested traveling to Colorado Springs to play the game, essentially by any means possible. He took things a step further and punctuated his diatribe by construing Air Force’s stance as “We don’t want to play this weekend”.
I have no issue with feeling disappointment over this game not being played. There is a near endless supply of fans who can attest the let down that comes with losing Saturday’s game. I do have an issue, however, with nonsense commentary that tries to portray Air Force, or any team for that matter, as simply “not wanting to play”. That is absurd.
Beyond the reality that the results from COVID testing that brought them to this point were concluded within 24 hours of their slated trip to West Point, it’s unreasonable to expect an administration to be able to pivot and create accommodations to play a game elsewhere with such a short turnaround, even if they wanted to contradict any COVID protocols which already exist for good reason.
I find it very interesting, too, that Monken didn’t spew such commentary when BYU wasn’t able to play earlier in the fall. Furthermore, for a program like Air Force, which has dominated the this matchup historically by winning 37 of 54 matchups (Monken is 2-4 vs. the Falcons), “ducking” Army isn’t laughable, it’s insulting.
This is the same Air Force team, after all, that played a very good Boise State football program just one week ago, having already absorbed massive taxes on their depth chart. So the Falcons are all of a sudden afraid to play Army, to the point of cancelling the game and potentially losing a chance at their top annual goal (the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy), but they were willing to play the Broncos?
When I read the quotes from coach Monken, which appear more like a classic WWE wrestling heel trying to goad the champ, I can’t help but to harken back to one of my favorite sports movies, ‘Youngblood’.
For those of you who are old enough to remember, or maybe are just fans of a good hockey movie, there is a scene from ‘Youngblood’ which the star of the movie, Dean Youngblood, is berated by his older brother, Kelly, for trying to quit the game after his friend is seriously injured. Monken takes on a very Kelly Youngblood-esque persona with his rant, but without the reason or substance behind it.
I’m not here to tell anyone they should subscribe to the Troy Calhoun school of communication or media relations. In fact, I completely understand why there is so much frustration around matters like this at the Academy in Colorado Springs. Like it or not, though, this game’s cancellation goes well beyond any conspiracy of gamesmanship or lack of fortitude.
Air Force is culpable for being thin all over the depth chart for a multitude of reasons, but to question the desire of this team to play in a game that could secure their most coveted prize borders on lunacy.
I get that Monken and the Army contingent are frustrated. They saw an opportunity to pounce on a wounded animal, and I’m sure they feel it was a very good chance to beat Air Force. I don’t know that I would’ve anointed Army as a foregone winner, in spite of the remaining personnel on Air Force’s roster, especially since history would suggest the contrary.
Jeff Monken is better than that. He’s a very good coach with a team that is playing with confidence. It doesn’t matter who they have played, that they barely beat the Citadel who, by the way, also runs the triple-option. They saw an opportunity against Air Force and it’s gone for the time being. But that doesn’t make what he said right, or even fair. He knows everything that goes into preparing cadets at a military academy under normal circumstances, much less in 2020. And for that reason, his commentary is below board. Well below.
Everybody lost out in this scenario, coach, everybody.