2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • BlogDog: Livin’ the Good Life

    Fri, October 31, 2008 by admin with 7 comments

    The talk in late September was that the BlogDog was washed up.


    After finishing 2007 on an 0-2 skid, he opened 2008 a mediocre 2-2.


    But as the great ones always seem to do, Norm raised his game when things looked bleak.


    First, he picked an underdog Navy team to beat Air Force at Falcon Stadium by nine. Navy won by six.


    Then he took Air Force to beat San Diego State. Norm’s score: 31-17. Actual score: 35-10.


    He followed those up by picking Air Force to beat UNLV and New Mexico in close ones. Check and check.


    Talk about going from the dog house (no offense, buddy) to the penthouse. Norm is rolling, having hit four picks in a row, and his spirits are high. As those who followed the blog last season know, The BlogDog digs rap music. And when I walked into the living room tonight I found him nodding along to Kanye West’s “The Good Life.” (Lyrics adjusted for Norm)


    It’s the good life, better than the life I live,

    When I thought that I was gonna go cra-zay.

    And now the BlogWife ain’t the only girl callin’ me bay-bay.

    And if you feelin’ me now, then put your paws up to the sky. …

    Nothing wrong with cranking some rap to get fired up. But did the BlogDog get too fired up? Listen closely in the video below and you can hear some growling before his final pick. And, I’ve got to admit, Norm was very noncommittal.


    Now, typically, Norm makes his pick by choosing between a mini-replica Air Force helmet and the mini-replica helmet of the opponent the Falcons are facing that week (best of five). But because I only have helmets of Mountain West Conference teams, I had to come up with something different.


    For the Navy game I had Norm pick between a plane and a boat (and that worked). So today I went shopping in search of a toy tank (attention accountants – is that a write-off?). Anyway, Norm went to the plane first, then the tank, then the tank and then the plane. His fifth and deciding pick (which you can watch in the video below) was hard to decipher as Norm pulled a move that can be described as akin to a political flip-flop (though this, more accurately, was a flip-flop-flip). He went to the tank but didn’t quite commit, then went to the plane. I thought he was going to grab the plane but then he went back to the tank and settled on it.


    So here’s how I think Norm sees this game playing out: It’s back and forth and Air Force scores late in regulation to tie it at 17. Both teams kick field goals in the first overtime session. Army stops Air Force in the second session and then scores to win it, 26-20.


    Norm’s Pick: Army 26, Air Force 20 (2OT)

    Norm’s 2008 Season Record: 6-2

    Norm’s Overall Record: 14-7

    (Note: If the video doesn’t load the first time you click on it, click on it again and it should come up in a new window).

  • Keeping Calhoun

    Thu, October 30, 2008 by admin with 7 comments

    I wrote a story for Thursday’s edition of The Gazette about how Air Force football coach Troy Calhoun likely will be courted by some of the schools that will have head coaching vacancies after this season.


    Find the story here.


    Anyway, there were a bunch of things I wasn’t able to fit in the story because of space restrictions that I wanted to add here. …


    -Construction on the proposed indoor facility can’t begin soon enough for those who want desperately for the academy to keep Calhoun.


    Calhoun has championed the academy’s need for an indoor facility, and it would be a big help for recruiting as well as offseason conditioning and throwing and catching. It also would show, big time, that the academy is listening to Calhoun and, to quote athletic director Hans Mueh, “shows him that we’re interested in making his program better.”


    -At the end of the story I listed factors that were in Air Force’s favor for keeping Calhoun. One more could be that the college game nationally has become more and more about throwing the ball. While Calhoun certainly has expertise in this area as a former NFL offensive coordinator, his Air Force teams have kept the ball mostly on the ground.


    Then again, Georgia Tech hired Paul Johnson, who did little offensively but run the ball while at Navy.


    -My story dealt mostly with college programs courting Calhoun, but don’t discount the NFL.


    Calhoun spent four years in the pros prior to coming to Air Force, and it’s evident in talking to him that he loved his time there and the challenges he encountered. When I talked to athletic director Hans Mueh about all this on Monday, he said, “I actually worry more about the Broncos than I do about the college ranks because I think he is at the college program that he wants to be at.

    “I don’t know what’s going to happen with (Broncos coach) Mike Shanahan if and when he decides to retire. I hope that’s like five or six years out from now. And maybe that’s a job that Troy would be interested in.”

    -Brian Gomez, The Gazette’s Olympics beat writer, attended Tuesday night’s Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame dinner and spoke to Chris Fowler, a Palmer High graduate and the host of ESPN’s wildly popular College GameDay program, about Calhoun.


    Here’s some of what Fowler had to say to Gomez.


    On Calhoun’s success: “I’ve learned not to be surprised by what he has done. I was surprised last season, and I got a chance to get to know him a little bit. You could tell over the phone the energy that he had, and the fresh approach, and the enthusiasm, and the fact that the team had really bought in, and the results were showing up on the field.”


    On Calhoun’s future: “It’s flattering when your coach is talked about as a hot property for other schools. If no one is talking about your coach, it means you’re not winning enough. I think Air Force folks have to understand that. He seems to have a real commitment and a loyalty and a passion to the academy, which I think is a plus. I don’t think he’s a mercenary-kind of coach. I have no idea what’s inside his head, if the right offer came along. But I think the best thing you’ve got going for you is you’ve got a guy that seems to have a real passion for the place. It takes a special kind of coach to coach at an academy and deal with the challenges and the academic restrictions. It’s also at the same time super rewarding.”


    -Though it hasn’t “been about the money” for Calhoun, it wouldn’t hurt to be able to offer him more money. And to offer his assistants more money.


    This is where the USAFA Endowment, created in July of 2007, could be huge.


    Mueh said Calhoun “knows we’ve worked through the USAFA Endowment folks already and essentially told them, ‘If you’re willing to help us with this, here’s the bill. And it’s extensive.’ If we want to do for these folks what they deserve, we’re going to need some extra funds. So can I offer him more? Absolutely.”

  • Air Force-Army Video Preview

    Wed, October 29, 2008 by admin with 1 comment

    My Air Force-Army video preview is now up on the Air Force page of Gazette.com. Find it here.

  • Tony D Coming Back to the Airwaves

    Wed, October 29, 2008 by admin with 2 comments

    Great news for sports fans in Colorado Springs.


    And, for that matter, sports in Colorado Springs.


    Tony Desiere will be coming back to 1300 AM.


    Tony D hosted a popular radio show in The Springs for about four years but lost his job in mid-June when KKML changed formats. The format change left The Springs with no sports radio stations – which was insane.


    Tony D filled the void by doing his show on the internet at www.tonydradioshow.com, but he’s been re-hired at 1300 and will begin broadcasting with his partner, Kip, either Nov. 3 or 10.


    Desiere can talk about the national sports scene with the best of them, but he’s always sure to give some love to the local teams, including those at Air Force. That’s why this is big news for Falcon fans.


    Welcome back, Tony D, and congrats.

  • Ramsey on Fisher

    Wed, October 29, 2008 by admin with no comments

    Gazette columnist David Ramsey has decided to shelve the romance novels for a while and get back to sports.


    But, seriously, check out an interesting and well-written post about Fisher DeBerry on his blog, which you can find here.

  • Odds and Ends

    Tue, October 28, 2008 by admin with 2 comments

    Some notes from Tuesday’s practice:


    -Air Force used water-soaked balls for parts of practice. According to weather.com, however, it looks like it could be pretty nice on Saturday in West Point, N.Y. Partly cloudy, high of 56, low of 36 and a 10 percent chance of precipitation.


    -Senior receiver Spencer Armstrong probably still is two weeks away from returning, Calhoun said.


    “He’s still a ways off,” Calhoun said. “He’s going like crazy over there (trying to get back), but you can just tell he’s a deer with a bad hoof, watching him move.”


    -Stat that jumped out at me today: Army senior fullback Collin Mooney needs 126 yards to reach 1,000 for the season. If he does it, it would be just the 13th 1,000-yard season recorded by a player in Army history.


    Just 13? That seemed crazy to me.


    Air Force coach Troy Calhoun pointed out that some of the Black Knights’ most famous players only played nine-game seasons. And, with Army running the wishbone, the carries were spread out amongst a handful of players.


    Air Force has had at least 14 players rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season (I say at least, because that’s as far as the record book I have goes). They are:


    1. Beau Morgan (1996) 1,494

    2. Chad Hall (2007) 1,478

    3. Dee Dowis (1987) 1,315

    4. Dee Dowis (1989) 1,286

    5. Beau Morgan (1995) 1,285

    6. Brian Bream (1970) 1,276

    7. Chance Harridge (2002) 1,229

    8. Keith Boyea (2001) 1,216

    9. Rob Perez (1991) 1,157

    10. Rodney Lewis (1989) 1,073

    11. John Kershner (1982) 1,056

    12. Andy Smith (1988), 1,040

    13. Bart Weiss (1985) 1,032

    14. Pat Evans (1984) 1,015


    Of those 14 1,000-yard seasons, eight were achieved by quarterbacks, four by fullbacks and two by tailbacks.


    -The Air Force junior varsity won “handily” over NMP, according to Calhoun. The freshmen on the junior varsity will face the academy prep school on Nov. 7 for what should be a preview of coming attractions for the Falcons.


    -The Army fight song played throughout most of the practice.


    It’s still ringing through my head.

  • Audio Slideshow

    Tue, October 28, 2008 by admin with 4 comments

    I hope we keep these going the rest of the season. Check out a slideshow of great photos from The Gazette with my audio commentary here. You can also find it by going to the Air Force page of Gazette.com and looking under the “Multimedia” tab.

  • And One

    Tue, October 28, 2008 by admin with no comments

    Like the extra free throw you get in basketball when you score while being fouled, here’s some extra stuff that didn’t quite fit in the article I wrote about sophomore outside linebacker Patrick Hennessey for today’s edition of The Gazette. (Find that article here).


    Air Force coach Troy Calhoun on Hennessey: “He plays hard, he’s really, really physical and tough and he’s full-tilt all the time. Now, when you’re around him – I remember when he came on his official visit. He’s just so mild mannered. And yet when you watch him play football, he’s revved up pretty good.”


    Fellow outside linebacker Hunter Altman on Hennessey: “He’s a great special teams player, and just like Calhoun always says, if you can play special teams, you can play offense or defense for us. He’s proven himself on special teams, and once he gets into knowing what to do on every play and where he’s comfortable with all that, he’s going to be a ridiculously good player. He’s really aggressive, and he shows it on the field. Even when he messes up, he’s always going 100 percent.”

  • Guys Behind the Guy

    Mon, October 27, 2008 by admin with no comments

    Long-snappers typically get noticed only for mistakes.


    A low snap that bounces on the ground and leads to a fumble. A snap that gets to the punter too slowly and leads to a block. A snap that’s too high and over the head of a kicker.


    It’s the definition of a thankless job: You get recognized only when things go wrong.


    But on Thursday against New Mexico, Falcons long-snapper Scott Howley made a head-turning play that had nothing to do with a botched snap. When New Mexico returner Frankie Solomon dropped a punt, Howley, who had hustled down the field, dove for it and secured a critical turnover for the Falcons.


    “I think he definitely had it,” Howley said of Solomon. “I kind of ripped it out of his hands. … You see a fumble and you just jump on it. It’s just kind of nature.”


    In addition, Howley and junior holder Brandon Geyer both can share in senior kicker/punter Ryan Harrison’s back-to-back Mountain West Conference Player of the Week awards. As Air Force coach Troy Calhoun and Harrison have said several times, there’s more that goes into a field goal than just the kick. And Howley, Geyer and Harrison operate smoothly as a snapper/holder/kicker trio.

  • Kirchoff, Harrison Honored by MWC

    Mon, October 27, 2008 by admin with 5 comments

    For the second straight week, an Air Force victory meant player of the week honors for two Falcons.


    Air Force seniors Aaron Kirchoff and Ryan Harrison were named the Mountain West Conference’s Defensive and Special Teams Players of the Week, respectively, on Monday for their performances in last Thursday’s 23-10 victory over New Mexico. A week earlier, freshman quarterback Tim Jefferson and Harrison earned player of the week honors after the Falcons’ 29-28 victory over UNLV.


    Kirchoff, a free safety, made four tackles, broke up a pass, forced a fumble and made the play that completely swung the game’s momentum on the last play of the first quarter.


    New Mexico was up 10-0 and had the ball at the Air Force 12-yard line. Quarterback Brad Gruner took off on a run and made it to about the 5-yard line, but senior linebacker Brandon Reeves knocked the ball loose. Kirchoff grabbed the bouncing ball and went 96 yards for a game-changing score. It was the second-longest fumble recovery in Air Force history.

    “It kept us in the game, and that changed the momentum,” Air Force freshman quarterback Tim Jefferson said of Kirchoff’s return.


    Harrison, the Falcons’ kicking specialist, was named the league’s special teams player of the week for the second week in a row and third time in his career. Harrison averaged 41.5 yards on four punts and  made all three of his field goal attempts (from 30, 43 and 32 yards). Harrison has made 16 of 18 field goals this season.