Air Force’s strong finish to the 2010 football season, and the subsequent preseason buzz this spring, has helped season ticket sales. The Falcons have sold about 1,000 more season tickets than they had at this time last year, said Chris Peludat, assistant athletic director for tickets.
Peludat said Air Force has sold a little more than 16,100 season tickets. Last year at this time, it had sold 15,100. The Falcons sold a little more than 17,000 season tickets last year.
Last we checked on former Air Force basketball player Jacob Burtschi, he was coming off a successful rookie season in Germany and contemplating his next move. Burtschi talked about how he wanted to ultimately play in Spain, and he will do so next season for CAI Zaragoza. He said he signed a one-year deal that includes a team option for a second year with CAI Zaragoza, which is in the ACB, the top league in Spain.
CAI Zaragoza finished 16-18 last year, which was 10th in the league, but Burtschi’s 3-point shooting could help the team. Burtschi said he liked the city, the organization, coaches and the fan support – he said the team sells out its 11,000-seat arena for most games.
He called getting a chance to play in Spain’s top league a “dream come true.”
“Even after the three-year active duty time I served, only one year later I’m in the best league in Europe,” Burtschi wrote in an e-mail. “I’m very blessed to be in this position and excited Zaragoza took a chance on me. I won’t let them down.”
If you’re a stats geek (sign me up), the site coachesbythenumbers.com does a good job analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of college football coaches. Air Force’s Troy Calhoun does pretty well (he ranks 22nd overall, ahead of Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo and Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly, to name a couple of high-profile guys he’ll face in 2011) and the site ranks him first among coaches doing “the most with the least.” CBTN created that metric by comparing each coach’s average recruiting class rank vs. their results. Not surprisingly, Niumatalolo finished second in CBTN’s study.
While I’d certainly accept that the list is not entirely accurate because college football recruiting lists aren’t entirely accurate, it does paint a pretty good picture of what Calhoun has done at Air Force. The Falcons don’t often get big-time recruits, and most of the players on last year’s Independence Bowl team didn’t have another solid scholarship offer from a FBS school. Yet, Air Force has done pretty well for itself, especially over the last four years.
Here’s an Army preview from the fantastic PreSnapRead.com site, and here’s the passage that should be of special interest to Air Force fans:
Sometimes, one player can make all the difference. We saw Cam Newton almost single-handedly lift Auburn to a national title in 2010, for example. At Army, we saw fullback Jared Hassin, an Air Force transfer, cause a night-and-day difference with this option offense. He was the missing piece in 2009, and the numbers showed it: Army scored 34 times on the ground last fall, compared to only 13 scores the year before. Hassin’s impact was sizable; he led the Cadets in rushing (1,013 yards), becoming in the process only Army’s second 1,000-yard sophomore. What does he do for an encore? Well, Hassin’s production can only improve with another year in the system, and he should continue to be the centerpiece of this option attack.
Ah, yes, Jared Hassin. At 6-3, 235 pounds, he is about as impressive physically as any service academy fullback you’ll find. And he was at Air Force.
Here’s the story on why Hassin left. Keep in mind, there’s no bitterness from Air Force, and Hassin certainly seems happy. But looking at the prospects of the 2011 Air Force football team, Hassin would have been a huge difference maker. The Falcons have high expectations, but the one question that keeps coming up is fullback, a very important piece to Air Force’s offense. Maybe Wesley Cobb or Mike DeWitt or someone else will step in at fullback for Jared Tew and Nathan Walker and Air Force will never wonder what might have happened had Hassin stuck around. He would have been a senior this season. Can you imagine Tim Jefferson, who will break the record for most wins by an Air Force quarterback, 1,000-yard tailback Asher Clark and Hassin, who rushed for 1,000 yards for Army (only the 14th time in school history), in the same backfield?
Air Force has not announced its hockey schedule but Robert Morris and other schools have, so here’s what I have pieced together.
Robert Morris visits to round out Air Force’s home opening weekend at 6:05 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16. The home opener is Oct. 14 against Niagara.
The Falcons conclude the regular season at the Colonials.
Here are the games that have been confirmed:
Oct. 7, Air Force at North Dakota (Icebreaker Tournament)
Oct. 8, Air Force vs. Boston College or Michigan State in Grand Forks, N.D. (Icebreaker Tournament)
Oct. 14, Niagara at Air Force, 7:07 p.m.
Oct. 16, Robert Morris at Air Force, 6:05 p.m.
Nov. 4, Sacred Heart at Air Force, 7:05 p.m.
Nov. 5, Sacred Heart at Air Force, 7:05 p.m.
Dec. 30, Air Force at Colorado College, 7:37 p.m.
Dec. 31, Denver at Air Force, 6:05 p.m.
Feb. 24, Air Force at Robert Morris, 5:05 p.m.
Feb. 25, Air Force at Robert Morris, 5:05 p.m.
When the Golden Nugget, a casino in downtown Las Vegas, posted its early betting lines on some college football games last week, bettors were immediately smitten with Air Force.
TCU was favored by 6.5 points over Air Force in a Week 2 showdown at Falcon Stadium. And the wiseguys loaded up on the Falcons like they were at a Vegas buffet, even as the Golden Nugget’s oddsmakers kept moving the line closer to Air Force.
“They bet Air Force at 6.5, then they bet Air Force at 5.5, then they bet Air Force at 4.5,” Golden Nugget sportsbook director Tony Miller said. “After three hits like that, I normally take the game down and reevaluate.”
Miller decided to put the line back up at TCU minus-4.
“They came in and took the 4, too,” Miller said. “So I said, ‘OK, something is going on.’”
The Golden Nugget finally posted the game at TCU minus-1.5, an astonishing five-point swing from the opening betting line. At that point, the betting action finally slowed down on Air Force – although Miller said there wasn’t much TCU action either.
Although Miller pointed out he is much more aggressive about moving the early lines in June, considering most other casinos don’t run a similar promotion posting college football lines three months before the season, a five-point swing shows that sharp bettors think pretty highly of Air Force this season. Miller said he expects the line will eventually settle somewhere between TCU as a 1.5-point favorite and a pick ‘em.
Miller said he wasn’t surprised at all the bets on Air Force, because he also thought the line was too high. But he has two fellow oddsmakers helping set the line.
“They talked me into TCU minus-6.5,” Miller said. “I got the last laugh on them.”
Perhaps it should be a surprise that Air Force would get such respect against highly regarded TCU team coming off an undefeated season and a Rose Bowl win. But Air Force is getting plenty of buzz this preseason as a sleeper team in the Mountain West, and TCU is losing a lot of talent including quarterback Andy Dalton.
Miller thinks that the Falcons could reach 10 wins this season.
“Absolutely,” he said.
Miller pointed to Air Force’s returning talent, specifically mentioning quarterback Tim Jefferson and running back Asher Clark, as reasons he likes Air Force this season. He singled out the Falcons’ game at Notre Dame as a tough matchup, and also thought games against TCU and Boise State would be difficult.
“Those are the three big ones, but if they can win one of those games they should have a great season,” Miller said. “They’ll surprise some people. I expect good things from them.”
The conference announced its composite schedule for the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Here are Air Force’s opponents and where the games will be played:
Home games: Colorado State, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico
Away games: Fresno State, San Diego State, UNLV, Wyoming
Home games: Fresno State, San Diego State, UNLV, Wyoming
Away games: Colorado State, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico