2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Willis’ Trouble Adds to MWC’s Difficult Summer

    Wed, June 30, 2010 by admin with 3 comments

    UNLV guard Tre’Von Willis – the second-leading scorer in the Mountain West Conference during the 2009-10 season and the Runnin’ Rebels’ best player – was arrested on Tuesday on multiple charges, including domestic battery by strangulation. Here’s the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s story.

    If Willis is guilty, he could be suspended or kicked off the team at UNLV, adding to an already rough offseason for the MWC.

    New Mexico’s Darington Hobson, the league’s 2009-10 Player of the Year, decided to skip his senior year to enter the NBA Draft (he was chosen in the second round by the Milwaukee Bucks), and the Lobos decided not to renew 6-foot-9 forward Will Brown’s scholarship; BYU guard Michael Loyd Jr. left the school; four underclassmen left Utah, including their top two scorers from last season – Carlon Brown, who transferred to Colorado, and talented shooter Marshall Henderson; and Willis’ teammate, 6-8 forward Matt Shaw, was given a one-year suspension for failing a drug test.

    But while the loss of all that talent is bad news for the MWC, it’s good news for a struggling Air Force program trying to become relevant again in the league.

  • Hoops Team’s Incoming Freshman

    Wed, June 30, 2010 by admin with 3 comments

    Here’s a list of the Air Force men’s basketball team’s incoming freshmen.

    Pos.    Name (Hometown/Prev School)                                            Ht., Wt.
    G         Jamil Bailey (Dallas, TX/USAFA Prep)                                6-4, 200
    F          Chris Blake (San Antonio, TX/USAFA Prep)                     6-7, 205
    F          Sean Bowman (Houston, TX/Stratford High)                     6-7, 195
    G         Bryce Brady (Chatsworth, CA/USAFA Prep)                     6-3, 200
    F          Myles Jerrett (Chino Hills, CA/USAFA Prep)                     6-5, 210
    F          Chase Kammerer (Montgomery, TX/St. Thomas High)     6-8, 220
    F          Ethan Michael (Toledo, OH/USAFA Prep)                         6-7, 210
    G         Deshawn Williams (Portsmouth, VA/USAFA Prep)          6-2, 185

  • Can Calhoun and AFA finally conquer BYU?

    Wed, June 30, 2010 by David Ramsey with no comments

    BYU has beaten Air Force six straight times by a combined score of 243-130. Will the bad times finally end Sept. 11?


  • Odds and Ends from Kickoff Luncheon

    Tue, June 29, 2010 by admin with 1 comment

    I attended the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation’s Football Kickoff Luncheon today and was able to talk to Air Force coach Troy Calhoun and Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson.

    I wrote an Air Force piece touching on the linebacker corps and the quarterback situation as well as a story about conference realignment now that the dust has settled.

    Here are some other notes I couldn’t fit in either of the above stories.

    -Calhoun, like Thompson, was glad there wasn’t the massive shake-up of conferences that some had predicted.

    “If I’m a fan you are (happy), absolutely, that there wasn’t a tremendous amount of maneuvering,” he said. “Because I think there are some alliances, competitively, that I think are really healthy for the sport, and I think they need time to develop – it’s not something that happens instantly. I don’t think it happens even within five or six years. I think they take sometimes decades to occur.”

    -I asked Calhoun if he was glad Boise State wasn’t joining until 2011 because of what the Broncos have back this year (all but one starter from last year’s 14-0 squad).

    “It’s probably something you really haven’t thought about a tremendous amount, frankly,” Calhoun said. “The reality is that’s something you’re going to do down the road.”

    Calhoun did say, however, that he would watch Boise closer this year because it will be joining the league in 2011.

    -I noted in my realignment story that – at least football-wise – the addition of Boise and the loss of Utah was pretty much a push.

    “I don’t know if it’s a push,” Thompson said. “I’m thrilled to death with Boise State. I hate to lose Utah. They were a great charter member, did wonderful things, set a lot of standards – BCS, Sweet 16, first-round draft picks, etc., etc. But I’m very optimistic about the future.”

    -Thompson – during both his formal remarks at the luncheon and in an interview with me and Pat Graham of the AP after the luncheon – thanked Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn for his help and information during the crazy days earlier this month when conferences were adding, losing and trying to lure schools from other leagues.

    “You didn’t know who was being truthful and who was not, and I really want to single out Mike Bohn, because he was kind of able to tell me some information from both sides without breaking confidences,” Thompson said.

    -Calhoun said nine schools is an ideal size for a conference.

    “When you play eight league games, you give yourself a chance to have some flavor in your schedule that changes from year to year,” he said.

    -I neglected to follow up on Army fullback Jared Hassin (who originally came to Air Force), as a couple people asked after reading my First Look: Army post (scroll down). Sorry about that. Promise I’ll get to it.

    But I did ask Calhoun about the incoming freshmen – as reader Joe Gray requested. Calhoun said “every single one” of the Falcons’ recruits showed up for basic training.

    “They don’t have gigantic smiles on their faces right now,” Calhoun said. “But I love the spirit of the group. That’s going to be a good group.”

    Calhoun said he wouldn’t be surprised if some of the freshmen earned playing time this year – specifically on the punt block and kickoff cover units. Calhoun said the secondary will get a good influx of talent from the incoming freshmen.

    -One more effect of Utah leaving and Boise State joining the MWC: Air Force’s baseball team will make the 2012 MWC Tournament, no matter what. Because Boise State doesn’t have a baseball team, there will be just six teams in the league. And the league holds a six-team tournament. Recently, Air Force has been the lone team left out of the tournament.

  • Hockey: 2010-11 schedule trickles in; RIT news

    Tue, June 29, 2010 by admin with no comments

    Air Force will play Mercyhurst three times this coming regular season with a nonconference home game at 7:05 p.m. Nov. 5 and  a road Atlantic Hockey Association series in Erie, Pa. on Feb, 18-19, 2011.

    Air Force hosts Army Jan. 14-15, 2011 at 7:05 p.m. with UConn hosting Air Force Jan. 21-22, 2011.

    Here’s info posted before: 

    Air Force travels to the nonconference Kendall Hockey Classic in Anchorage to take on Alaska-Fairbanks at 7:07 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8 and play host Alaska-Anchorage at 9:07 the next night.

    The Falcons also compete in the nonconference Denver Cup over the Thanksgiving weekend, taking on Clarkson at 4:37 p.m. Friday, Nov. 26 and host DU at 7:07 p.m. Nov. 27 in their only meeting. Lake Superior State takes on DU at 7:37 p.m. Friday and Clarkson at 4:07 Saturday.

    Air Force hosts Colorado College at 7:05 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12.

    Air Force usually announces its full schedule in July.

    Also, RIT announced its 2014 class last week. The most interesting part is the new goalie RIT listed toward the bottom of the press release. That’s a big hole to fill.

  • Hockey: Falcons announce incoming class

    Mon, June 28, 2010 by admin with no comments

    Air Force hockey coach Frank Serratore announced the 10 incoming freshman for the Class of 2014, including Monument defenseman Aaron Quick. Look for a full story on gazette.com later Monday.

    The Class of 2014

    No.      Name                            Pos.       Ht.           Wt.          Hometown                            Last Team

    16       Fabian, Jason           F            6-3          185         Roseau, MN                     Bismarck Bobcats (NAHL)

      7        Kleisinger, Casey    F           5-10        165         Edwards, CO                    Bismarck Bobcats (NAHL)

      6        McKenzie, Adam    D           5-11       175         Petaluma, CA                   Wenatchee Wild (NAHL)

    18       Michalke, George  F            5-11       165         Parma, OH                        Fairbanks Ice Dogs (NAHL)

      2        Musselman, Jake   D           5-9          175         Littleton, CO                     Kenai River Brown Bears (NAHL)

    28       Quick, Aaron            D           6-3          195         Monument, CO              Bismarck Bobcats (NAHL)

    20       Thomas, Tony          F            6-3          190         South Lyon, MI               Topeka Roadrunners (NAHL)

    13       Timar, Ryan              F            5-10       180         Novi, MI                             Wenatchee Wild (NAHL)

    29       Torf, Jason                G           5-11       180         Hermosa Beach, CA      Motor City Metal Jackets (NAHL)

    26       Torrel, Mitch            F            6-1          185         Monticello, MN              Wenatchee Wild (NAHL)

  • First Look: Army

    Fri, June 25, 2010 by admin with 2 comments

    This is Part 10 of my “First Look” series, in which I take a quick peek at each of the Air Force football team’s 2010 opponents. We move this week to the Falcons’ Week 10 opponent – service academy rival Army.

    Here are links to the First Looks at the Falcons’ first nine opponents: Northwestern State, BYU, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Navy, Colorado State, San Diego State, TCU and Utah.

    Rich Ellerson
    2009 Record: 5-7
    2009 vs. AF: Air Force 35, Army 7
    2009 in a Sentence: The Black Knights just missed becoming bowl eligible under first-year coach Ellerson, but their return to the triple-option offense and performance during the season provided hope that the struggling program might eventually rise.
    Off/Def Starters Back: 8/8
    Roster Report: Army’s defense was fairly stingy in 2009, ranking 16th in the country in total defense (304.7 yards allowed per game) and 35th in scoring defense (21.9 points allowed per game).

    The Black Knights will have to replace a pair of defensive linemen, including tackle Victor Ugenyi, but they should be strong up front with the return of senior defensive end Josh McNary and senior defensive tackle Mike Gann.

    Undersized (6-foot-1, 225 pounds) but speedy, McNary is on watch lists for several awards heading into 2010 after compiling 22.5 tackles for losses, including an Army-record 12.5 sacks, last season. According to the Times Herald-Record, McNary missed spring drills following shoulder surgery.

    As for Gann, Sal Interdonato, the Army beat writer for the Times Herald-Record, wrote on his Black Knights blog that the tackle “is the defense’s heart and soul and will be the key if Army’s defense is going to better its No. 16 national ranking from last year. Right now, he’s the only player on the roster that can create havoc in the backfield as well as engage with two or sometimes three offensive linemen.”

    Army also returns three starting defensive backs and its entire starting linebacker corps from the 2009 squad, including leading tackler Andrew Rodriguez (85 tackles) and senior Stephen Anderson, who had 83 tackles despite missing the last three games of the year with a knee injury he suffered at Air Force. Also look for contributions from senior Kingsley Ehie, who moved to linebacker from fullback.

    Eight starters return from an offense that ranked 16th in the country in rushing in 2009 (203.6 yards per game) but last (120th) in passing (71.8 yards per game).

    One huge plus for the Black Knights is experience under center. Quarterback Trent Steelman became the first West Point freshman to start every game of a season in 2009, leading the team with 202 rushes, 706 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns. He also completed 54-of-110 passes for 637 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. The experience he banked in 2009 showed in the spring.

    “Trent is much more comfortable in a leadership role and much more comfortable running the offense,” Ellerson said in the Black Knights’ post-spring release. “The reactions and decisions that go along with that position are all so much more intuitive for him.”

    Army didn’t get much from its fullbacks in 2009 (two rushing touchdowns and no runs of more than 26 yards), but that could change with sophomore Jared Hassin expected to jump in as the starter. If the name rings a bell, there’s a reason. Hassin initially came to Air Force, but he left in August of 2008 (barely into his freshman year) after practicing some with the varsity that month. He sat out last year.

    “We have been waiting to get Jared into the mix,” Ellerson said.

    Army returns both its starting slot backs from last season – seniors Patrick Mealy (673 yards, three touchdowns, team-high 6.1 yards-per-carry average) and Jameson Carter (238 yards, two touchdowns) – and could get a contribution from sophomore Malcolm Brown. And up front the Black Knights have four linemen back who started in 2009, and all are seniors.

    The biggest question mark for Army offensively is at receiver, where just two players who combined for five catches in 2009 return.

    Like on offense and defense, Army will have experience on special teams – the Black Knights’ 2009 starting punter (senior Jonathan Bulls), starting place kicker (junior Alex Carlton), starting long-snapper (senior Carson Homme) and kickoff specialist (senior Matthew Campbell) all are slated to return.

    Fast Fact: Army’s offense scored just 18 touchdowns in 12 games in 2009.

    What Caught My Eye: Only four of the coaches on the Army staff are West Point grads. Juxtapose that with Air Force’s staff, which includes 10 Air Force grads.

    I continue to think having a bunch of grads on staff is the way to go for a service academy. It’s huge especially for recruiting because the guys selling the place actually went through it. I’m not quite sure why some coaches at Air Force haven’t followed Calhoun’s lead on this.

    Jake’s Way Too Early Line vs. Air Force: Air Force, minus-7. The Falcons have owned the Black Knights of late, winning four straight and 12 of 13 in the teams’ series. Army will be better and will play the Falcons at home, but Air Force still should be the favorite.

    Final Thought: Since going 10-2 in 1996, the Black Knights have suffered through 13 losing seasons. During that time they went 35-115. And in 10 of the seasons they won three or fewer games.

    But this could be the year the Black Knights creep above .500 and become bowl eligible. Only four of the teams on their 2010 schedule had winning records in 2009 (Temple, Rutgers, Air Force and Navy).

    When Ellerson was hired, Army athletic director Kevin Anderson told the Associated Press that if Ellerson couldn’t turn the program around, “I don’t know if there is a coach who can.”

    I think Ellerson can. In his first season he re-installed the triple-option and put a focus on defense (and a solid ground game with a stingy defense seems to be the formula for service academies). Army might be a year away from a major breakthrough, but I see the Black Knights as a program on the rise.

  • Coming Soon: The Gazette’s All-Time Air Force Football Team

    Fri, June 25, 2010 by admin with no comments

    On July 25, The Gazette will publish its All-Time Air Force Football Team.

    The team will include 25 players – 11 on offense, 11 on defense and three specialists – from throughout the program’s history.

    To come up with the team, The Gazette collected ballots from former players, current and former coaches and current and former athletic department personnel. Those who submitted ballots represent all eras of Air Force football. Once the ballots were studied and digested, there were several subsequent detailed discussions, including a roundtable meeting, to help flesh out the squad.

    The Gazette will have on-line voting for fans around the time of the team’s publication.

  • Links

    Wed, June 23, 2010 by admin with 4 comments

    Some college football-related material I’ve enjoyed reading recently:

    -SI.com’s Stewart Mandel talks a bunch about expansion (and touches on Boise State’s move to the Mountain West Conference as well as the now-irrelevant Air Force-to-the-Big-12 rumors) in his mailbag.

    -Some back-and-forth between CBSSports.com writers Dennis Dodd and J. Darin Darst.

  • McShane Optimistic

    Tue, June 22, 2010 by admin with 1 comment

    Not a whole lot of volleyball talk on this blog, but I wanted to point out to those that might not have checked Gazette.com today that I wrote an article about new Air Force volleyball coach Matt McShane, and a sidebar about his efforts to build the program’s following.

    McShane has a pretty impressive resume, and he is optimistic that he can turn around a Falcons program that has been dreadful – to put it kindly – for a while. Former coach Penny Lucas-White went 97-302, including 15-93 in league play during her 14 seasons. Since going 5-9 in league play in Air Force’s first season in the Mountain West Conference (1999), here are Air Force’s conference records:



    So a change was loooooooooong overdue. And the players with whom I spoke for the article were glad to get some new energy in the gym.

    McShane exudes energy and positivity and confidence. He told me he doesn’t care about the Falcons’ gruesome past and that Air Force is going to win – “a lot.”

    “Every game we play, I think we’re going to win,” he said. “And at the end of that game, if we win I’m going to be happy, and if at the end of that game we lose I’m going to be upset. So it doesn’t matter if they beat that team before or they didn’t beat that team before. Really, that doesn’t matter. It’s where we are right this second and where we’re going. We’re better – we’re already better. And by Aug. 15 we’re going to be better than we are on Aug. 1.”

    Air Force opens its 2010 season on Aug. 27 at home against Long Island at 7 p.m.