Wednesday, June 28, 2006

SI's Stewart Mandel talks about Navy...

Sports Illustrated College Football Columnist Stewart Mandel recently featured my question in his bi-weekly college football magazine. The topic of interest goes something as follows:

Me: Navy has posted three consecutive winning seasons, with two straight bowl wins over New Mexico and Colorado State. With 18 returning starters back and the best recruiting class of the academies, do you believe the Midshipmen have a chance to cement themselves as a Top 25 team and go on a run like Air Force did in the '80s and '90s?

Stewart: As you probably noticed earlier, I have a lot of respect for what Paul Johnson has accomplished at Navy. There's no overstating just how far down that program was in the previous decade, and the fact that the Midshipmen are now enjoying annual bowl trips is astounding. To engender the kind of respect you're hoping for, however, the academy would need to substantially upgrade the quality of its competition. The vast majority of Navy's wins the past few years have come against the likes of Rice, Tulane and Temple. In fact, the only BCS-conference foes the Midshipmen have defeated in the last three seasons are Duke, Vanderbilt and Rutgers. So I'd temper the expectations a little. I think Navy fans should be very happy right now with a program that's winning eight games a year and going to bowl games but isn't necessarily going to be regarded as a national power anytime soon.

Stewart is right on the scheduling deal, but I think he failed to use any foresight with regard to my actual question. If he would have analyzed the 2006 schedule and maybe the recruiting swing in our favor, he could have given me and answer to whether or not the team would "have a chance to cement themselves as a Top 25 team and go on a run like Air Force did in the '80s and '90s?" Did I ask him if we were going to be a "National Power?" Uh, no...

Nevertheless, still feels good to get some love for the Mids from SI.com.

1 comment:

Navy94 said...

Well, if you're going to be a top 25 team routinely (or cemented), then by default you have to be considered a "national power".

I agree with Stewart that Navy needs to not only win those 8 games, but we need to beat the average to poor teams soundly. 28-21 late win at Duke last year did not help our image any despite the tough play of the previous Maryland and Stanford games.

We also need to play ND tough which we did not do. Look, I love Navy football too, but we can't squeak by a bad Duke team, below average Air Force, and lost to Rutgers to be considered top 25.

On the bright side though, Air Force and Duke were both due to our mistakes. Rutgers was similar in that they couldn't mount the comeback even though they came close. We need an experieced QB who will make good decisions. Lamar did that at the end of the season, but not so much early on.

Let's hope that Hampton's game exposure helps him be a mature QB earlier rather than later.