2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Keeping Calhoun

    Mon, December 10, 2007 by admin with 5 comments

    With Air Force coach Troy Calhoun being mentioned as a possible candidate for openings at several colleges, the academy is doing its best to keep the Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year at his alma mater.

    According to sports information director Troy Garnhart, Air Force athletic director Hans Mueh and Calhoun are discussing potential contract improvements.

    Southern Methodist contacted the academy for permission to speak to Calhoun about its coaching vacancy, and multiple media outlets reported that Calhoun was a candidate for the Duke job. Calhoun was not interested in the SMU job.

  • Night Football

    Fri, December 7, 2007 by admin with 2 comments

    Remember the scene from “Invincible” – the football movie staring Mark Wahlberg – when Wahlberg and his friends play in the rain on a muddy field at night using their car lights to light the field?

    That’s what the latter stages of Air Force’s Friday practice looked like. Save for the car lights.

    From the parking lot east of the field – maybe 30 yards away – you couldn’t see any players. But you could hear them hooting, hollering and loving every minute of practice.

    Calhoun has said all season that one of the things that sets the 2007 team apart is the players’ love for the game. They even love practice, he says. That was apparent on Friday night as they battled the cold, a steady, sleety rain and darkness.

    But nobody complained or batted an eye when Calhoun told the players they’d be outside in 30-degree temperatures and freezing rain.

    “They just said, ‘Pad up, and here we go,’” Calhoun said. “That’s just our guys, attitude-wise. They’d rather be outside.”

    “It was fun,” senior inside linebacker Drew Fowler said. “Just to get out here and play. It was kind of like backyard football there.

    “It got tough there at the end. Everything was blending in with everybody.”

    Not tough enough for Calhoun. “I wanted it to be a little darker,” he joked.

    “As long as you’ve got some decent footing, I want to practice outside. I just think you get so much more done, and I think the elements are real in football. This isn’t a sport that you only play when it’s between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. I just think you’ve got to train that way.”

  • All-MWC All About Falcons

    Tue, December 4, 2007 by admin with 1 comment

    Air Force’s dramatic turnaround season was rewarded Tuesday when the Mountain West Conference revealed its postseason honors.

    First-year coach Troy Calhoun was named the conference coach of the year, and four Air Force players were named to the all-conference first team, including senior running back/receiver Chad Hall, who was named the conference’s offensive player of the year. The selections were made by the league’s nine coaches and a panel of media.

    Senior center Blaine Guenther, senior outside linebacker John Rabold and senior cornerback Carson Bird all also were named to the first team, giving Air Force its most players on an all-conference first team since 1998 when five Falcons made the All-Western Athletic Conference first team.

    Senior inside linebacker Drew Fowler, a first-team selection in 2006, and sophomore offensive lineman Nick Charles were named to the all-conference second team, while senior quarterback Shaun Carney, junior tight end Travis Dekker, junior defensive end Ryan Kemp and sophomore safety Chris Thomas received honorable mention honors.

    Calhoun, who earlier in the day was named the American Football Coaches Association 2007 Region 5 Coach of the Year, is the first Air Force coach to win a conference coach of the year award in his first season and the second coach at the academy to earn such an honor. Former coach Fisher DeBerry won three.

    Calhoun, who replaced DeBerry and took over a team that had suffered through three consecutive losing seasons, constructed a staff of assistants with academy ties, altered the team’s offensive and defensive philosophies, put a premium on in-season strength and conditioning and re-energized a program that had stumbled to a 4-8 mark in 2006.’

    The result was a 9-3 record – the second-largest turnaround in academy history – a second-place finish in the league and the first invitation to a bowl since 2002.

    “Really as a coach, your feet are on the ground and you realize it’s earned by staff members, the administration, players and coaches,” Calhoun said. “Whenever you identify a coach, it’s a reflection on an entire school, especially here at the Air Force Academy.”

    Hall became the sixth Air Force player – and first non-quarterback – to win a conference offensive player of the year award.

    He made the all-conference first team as a running back, but he made his contributions all over the field. The 5-foot-8, 180-pounder from Atlanta was the only player in the country to lead his team in both rushing yards (a league-high 1,415) and receiving yards (488). He also set academy records for all-purpose yards in a game, career and season in 2007, averaging a conference-high 208.7 all-purpose yards per game.

    Guenther, who moved from tackle to center, was the lone full-time returning starter from the 2006 offensive line. He helped pave the way for the nation’s second-best rushing attack (298.5 yards per game).

    Rabold ranked second in the conference with 16.5 tackles for losses and led the conference with four fumble recoveries. Bird led the conference and ranked seventh nationally with six interceptions and ranked second in the conference with three fumble recoveries.

    UNLV linebacker Beau Bell was named the conference’s defensive player of the year. Utah place kicker/punter Louie Sakoda, one of a league-high 10 Utes on the all-conference first or second teams, was named the special teams player of the year for the second consecutive season. And BYU’s Harvey Unga was selected as the conference’s freshman of the year.

  • Calhoun Honored

    Tue, December 4, 2007 by admin with 1 comment

    Air Force coach Troy Calhoun was named the American Football Coaches Association 2007 Region 5 Coach of the Year today – and that might be just the first award he receives on the day.

    The Mountain West Conference will reveal its all-conference teams and individual awards later today, and Calhoun – who in his first year engineered a five-game turnaround – is expected to run away with that honor.

    A year after going 4-8 in Fisher DeBerry’s final year at the academy, Air Force went 9-3 in the regular season, its best since 1998, and will face Cal in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 31.

    The AFCA recognizes five regional coaches of the year in each of the association’s five divisions: Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A), Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA), Division II, Division III and NAIA. The winners are selected by active members of the association who vote for coaches in their respective regions and divisions.

    The AFCA will announce its five 2007 National Coach of the Year winners at the 2008 AFCA Convention in Anaheim.

    The other Football Championship Subdivision winners:
    Region 1: (tie) Rich Rodriguez (West Virginia) and Jeff Jagodzinski (Boston College)
    Region 2: Sylvester Croom (Mississippi State)
    Region 3: Ron Zook (Illinois)
    Region 4: Mark Mangino (Kansas)

  • So Who’s it Going to be?

    Sun, December 2, 2007 by admin with 3 comments

    Good question.

    Saturday’s upsets threw the BCS into the kind of turmoil the system’s critics have been predicting for years, and Air Force’s opponent in the Dec. 31 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl still is uncertain.

    While everything hinges on tonight’s BCS selections, here’s how things look for the Falcons.

    There are 10 BCS teams – six conference winners and four at-large selections. The at-large selections would seem to be an additional SEC team (Georgia), an additional Big 12 team (Kansas), Hawaii and then either an additional Pac-10 team (Arizona State) or an additional Big Ten team (Illinois).

    If Illinois is pulled into the BCS, there will be enough bowl eligible Pac-10 teams to fill out the conference’s bowl tie-ins. That would mean a Pac-10 opponent for Air Force – most likely reeling Cal.

    If Arizona State is pulled into the BCS, Air Force would probably face a Big Ten team – possibly Purdue.

    We’ll wait and see what happens tonight with the BCS selections.