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, New York:11, Baltimore: 4, East Rutherford: 4, Annapolis & West Point: 4 each, & Chicago, Pasadena, & Princeton each have hosted a game.
This weekend’s game marks the 122th meeting between the Academies, Navy leads the series 61 (wins) 53 (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, 2016 & 2017. This year, Army is 8-3 while navy has struggled @ 3-8!
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 had won the game 14 straight times and from 2006 through 2010, many of the games had 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, Army began to play better from the 2012 season, the games were now being decided by single digits , 2012, 17-13; 2014, 17-10, and 2015, 21-17!
Finally, Army has won in 2016, 21-17 and proceeded to win 3 of the next four battles, 2017, 14-13; 2018, 17-10; & 2020, 15-0!
Las Vegas has made Army a 7.5 point favorite and since I have a brother-in-law and 2 nephews, who are West Point Graduates, I’m good with that … so respectfully …Go Army!!
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, …. without hesitation or question! Yet, for it to remain one of sport’s greatest rivalries, Army needed to stand and put an end to a 14 year nose-bleed, (2002 through 2015) or sadly, the Army-Navy rivalry was going the way of the teams winning national championships and top ten rankings, a thing of the past!
The Black Knights did just that, winning 4 of the last 5 games! Now it is time for the Midshipmen to remember Gridley … ‘You may fire when ready Gridley … and as far as Navy’s ‘Billy the Goat’ is concerned; Saturday would be a good time to ‘fire a broadside’ @ Army’s Ranger 111 & Stryker!
What a great way for college football to signal the end of the regular season, the beginning of the Bowl Season! Hope you find time to tune in!