2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Warren’s role with Air Force much deeper than calling defenses

Published: November 4, 2013, 9:19 pm, by Brent Briggeman

I hear a lot of talk about Air Force football in my position, and the thing I’ve heard more than any else this year is that the Falcons need to make a change at defensive coordinator.

This fits in with the natural reaction of many fans who believe if something is not working the guy in charge of it must be replaced and replaced immediately. And certainly there are some major issues with the Falcons’ defense as the unit ranks 114th in total defense, 112th in both rushing and scoring defense, 120th in pass efficiency defense and 123rd in third-down defense.

It’s been a rough year, to be sure. Those problems stretch back to last season as well. Some of it likely is attributed to scheme, some to inexperience, some may be issues of talent and some should just be credited to the opposition. But in terms of making a change, be careful what you wish for.

Defensive coordinator Charlton Warren (Steve Russ in the co-defensive coordinator) is an Air Force graduate and perhaps the most dynamic recruiter in any sport at the academy right now.

The current list of players brought in from Georgia — Warren’s territory — is 15 deep, more than any other state besides Texas. Included in that group is running back Jon Lee, left tackle Matt Rochell, defensive end Ryan Watson, strong safety Dexter Walker, receiver Garrett Brown, linebacker Justin Alibi and linebacker Jordan Pierce.

Past hauls from the Warren-created Georgia pipeline have included Chad Hall and Cody Getz.

“When he came into my house, it was just like ‘Whoa, he’s an Air Force guy,’” said Brown, who caught four passes and scored his first career touchdown on Saturday. “Just the way he walked and he had this presence about him. I don’t know, there was just something about him that other coaches didn’t have. Other coaches, I don’t want to say they were begging, but they just didn’t carry themselves the same way. And that kind of stood out to my parents and to me.”

Sure, at some point Air Force might need to hold someone accountable for issues on defense. But any decision will come with a great deal of thought and care considering Warren’s deep history and contribution to the team and all that could be at stake if that were to be jeopardized.