The first game between Army /Navy was played in 1880, with Navy emerging as the winner. They have played every year since, with the following 10 exceptions. In 1893, following a Navy victory, an incident after the game almost led to a duel between a Rear Admiral and Brigadier General. As a result of that event, President Cleveland called a cabinet meeting, after which, the Secretary of the Navy, Hillary A. Herbert and Secretary of War, Daniel S. Lamont, issued orders that the respective Academies could play only home game. These orders effectively defused the situation, as the game was placed on hold (1894-1898) for five years . In 1909, a cadet, Eugene Byrne, died in a game against Harvard and as a result, Army cancelled the rest of their season. During WW I, the game was put on hold in 1917 and again, in 1918 and finally, in 1923-24, the games were cancelled when the Academies could not agree on eligibility rules for the players.
“The Event” was moved to Philadelphia in 1899 and has been played in the “City of Brotherly Love” (Greek Origins) for most of the 20th and 21st Centuries. The host sites include the following cities and number of games played in the respective venues: Philly: 83 games, 11 times in New York, Baltimore: 4 contests, East Rutherford: 4 games, Annapolis & West Point: 4 each, & Chicago, Pasadena, & Princeton each have hosted a game.
This weekend’s game marks the 117th meeting between the Academies, Navy leads the series 60 (wins) 49 (loses) and 7 (ties). Sadly, since 1963, the teams have entered their annual battle with both squads having winning records only three times, 1996, 2010 & this season. The good news is both teams will play in a bowl in 2016, Navy is 9-3 and Army is 6-5 and the first time since 2010 they both have winning records! The days of this game having national championship implications or the teams being national powers have long since faded into history. High academic standards, potential NFL career opportunities, weight/height limits, and military commitment upon graduation have greatly diminished the talent pool for the Academies.
Navy has won the game 14 straight times and from 2006 through 2010, the games have not been very close; 2006, 26-14; 2007, 38-3; 2008, 34-0; 2009, 17-3; & in 2010, 31-17. That said, the game in 2011 was 24-21 in the 4th Quarter, before Navy kicked a field goal to secure the 27-21 win! With exception of 2013, a 34-7 Navy win, the games have been decided by single digits , 2012, 17-13; 2014, 17-10, and 2015, 21-17!
This year, Navy is bowl eligible for the 7th time in 8 years and has won 4 of its last 5 games. Army has lost 3 of their last 6 games however, Army did beat Temple, 28-13, a team that beat Navy, 34-10 in the AAC Championship! Neither team will/can win the Commander-in-Chief Trophy in 2016, as Air Force has beat Army, 31-12 & Navy 28-14!
Las Vegas has made Navy a 6.5 point favorite and I, for one, hope they got this one wrong!
SCFP was really happy that the NCAA agreed to move this game back a week. America needs to celebrate the young men and women, who are willing to make the commitment and sacrifice a military career demands. It is absolutely fitting that the last regular season college football game be played between Army & Navy and played on a weekend, when all other FBS programs are idle and, hopefully, honoring their gridiron peers!
Americans will / should always honor the participants in this game, …. period… no question! Yet, for it to remain one of sport’s greatest rivalries, Army needs to stand up this year and put an end to this 14 year nose-bleed, or sadly, the rivalry may go the way of national championships and top ten rankings. Go Army!