2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • 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.

  • Hutcheon Reflects

    Fri, May 21, 2010 by admin with 5 comments

    Air Force’s baseball team lost to BYU, 18-4, this afternoon to fall to 12-40, including 2-20 in Mountain West Conference play.

    Tomorrow’s season finale will be the Falcons’ last game under coach Mike Hutcheon, who announced he would be resigning in mid-April, effective at the end of the season.

    Hutcheon had a turbulent career filled with off-field controversies and on-field losses. I had a chance to talk to him after Friday’s 16-6 loss to the Cougars about his tenure and future.

    Gazette: This is your farewell series, is that kind of strange?
    Mike Hutcheon: Not really, because we’ve kind of known about it for a while. Just trying to go out on a good note and trying to get these guys some momentum into the summer and into the fall. So that’s what we’re trying to finish up with.

    G: Will it be difficult for you, the last game?
    MH: Haven’t really thought about it too much. I’m going to miss, obviously, the guys and the players that we’ve gotten close to and those kind of things. But it’s time. I think it’s time to move on and to turn the page and to continue to gain some momentum with my career as well, try to get that back, kind of re-establish myself. So it’s kind of bittersweet.

    G: What made you decide this was it for you?
    MH: It just got too tough. It was just the grind. I think the grind of just the academy, trying to compete at a high level. And I think we felt like we were making some headway, and you take two steps forward and take a step back on either academic hits or honor hits or alcohol hits. Just the whole, I think, seven years of just the grind. And I think you talk to a lot of coaches here, and a lot will tell you the same thing, that after a while it just kind of wears you down to where either you stay and be mediocre or you decide to turn the page and to go somewhere where you can revitalize your career. I came to the conclusion that I felt like I could do everything I could do here. And it just became a situation where we kind of felt like it was a no-win for a lot of different reasons. So it was more a career decision of whether or not I wanted to continue this grind or step back and kind of try to re-energize myself and just kind of get that energy back. And losing does that to you. No matter what sport it is, it just wears on you in every aspect of what you do. And the program needed it too. I think it needed kind of a change, just change the guard, get some new blood in here, some new energy in here and see what they can do. But we felt like we exhausted everything as a staff that we could have done.

    G: There were some outside forces that were not happy with you. How much of an influence did that have on your decision?
    MH: I think that’s expected. Any time you’re not winning – people expect great things, which is obvious. No matter what program you’re at, different levels you’ve got different expectations. And the expectations here are always high. And things have changed a lot since I started and 10 years before that. So I think people don’t realize the expectations are different now and what’s expected and being in the Mountain West and playing the schedule you have to play. And the rules changed a little bit with pro ball. And as far as the kids go, they haven’t changed. They’ve always been the same type of players we’ve always gotten. I think the circumstances have changed and it’s been hard for people to understand that – that circumstances change but the players don’t change, and you’re still getting the same kind of kid. And it’s tough. You always want to be recognized for doing things well, and when people don’t see it that way, it’s not easy to be criticized. But at the same time I think it’s expected in this profession. If you don’t win, you’re gonna get hammered. It kind of comes with the territory, I guess.

    G: Any regrets or anything you’d do differently if you had it over?
    MH: I wish we could have won more and taken this program to the level we wanted to, but I don’t think anybody’s ever done that. So it’s really hard to say the program’s been at a state to say where you’d like to maintain it or take it to a new level. So that’s a regret to say we haven’t taken it to a new level from a wins and losses standpoint. But, really, when you look back on it, I don’t think there’s anything else we could have done different, we tried to abide by what the academy’s mission was, we held up the rules and we followed the rules. I thought we recruited really well. I thought our talent level got better. But just the momentum of the program always stalls out when you don’t win on a consistent basis and you lose guys due to different hits. We just never could maintain that momentum you need for a three- or four-year period where you could keep guys together and kind of learn how to win and start winning big games, and we never got to that point in our tenure we were here. It felt like we were on our way, but we just kept going backwards.

    G: What’s next for you?
    MH: I’ve got a couple years (on contract at the academy), which is nice, to kind of look at it if I need to. Being in coaching for 23 years, I’ve acquired a lot of contacts. So right now just trying to get a hold of everybody out there in the field and let them know that I’m available and would like to try to stay in it. The longer you’re out, the harder it is. But it’s a pretty good fraternity of guys. We’ve all known each other, and you always get second chances to get back in, maybe as an assistant somewhere, and maybe get that energy back a little bit. So it would be nice to step back as an assistant, and that’s what I’d like to do, if possible. But after that two years, you’ve got a family, so you’ve got to make money and do what you’ve got to do, but I’d like to stay in baseball if I could.

  • MWC Suspends Hutcheon

    Sun, May 2, 2010 by admin with 3 comments

    Air Force baseball coach Mike Hutcheon is stepping down at the end of the 2010 season.

    But he’s not going quietly.

    The embattled coach has been suspended by the Mountain West Conference for Sunday’s game against UNLV after being ejected in back-to-back contests. The league mandates a suspension after two ejections.

    Hutcheon was ejected from Saturday’s 23-8 loss to UNLV, a day after he was tossed from a 9-4 loss to the Rebels.

    Hutcheon announced his resignation, effective at the end of the season, to his team on April 16 after a loss to Georgia Southern. His departure will end a turbulent tenure during which the program experienced massive roster turnover (since spring break, two players have been thrown off the team and five others have been suspended indefinitely), was plagued by controversy and failed spectacularly on the field. Hutcheon’s record in seven seasons is 76-277 including 13-147 in MWC play.

  • Kazlausky Will Coach Falcons in 2011

    Mon, April 19, 2010 by admin with 10 comments

    Maj. Mike Kazlausky has been named interim head baseball coach at Air Force for the 2011 season, according to a release from the academy.

    Kazlausky will replace Mike Hutcheon, who will resign at the end of the season.

    A more detailed story will be available soon at Gazette.com.

  • Numerically Speaking

    Sat, April 17, 2010 by admin with 2 comments

    With baseball coach Mike Hutcheon resigning at the end of the current season, Air Force will head into the 2010-11 academic year with new coaches for three long suffering programs – baseball, women’s volleyball and women’s basketball.

    Here’s a look at the outgoing coaches and their records:

    Coach                            Sport                  Seasons    Rec. (Conf. Rec)    Consec MWC Ls
    Penny Lucas-White    W. Volleyball    14                97-302 (15-193)       70
    Ardie McInelly             W. Basketball     9               57-201 (12-124)        37
    Mike Hutcheon             Baseball              7               72-271 (13-143)         7

    TOTALS:                                                  30            226-774 (40-460)   114

  • Statements from Mueh and Hutcheon

    Sat, April 17, 2010 by admin with 4 comments

    Air Force athletic director Hans Mueh and baseball coach Mike Hutcheon have not responded to requests from The Gazette for comment about Hutcheon’s resignation.

    But both issued statements in a release from the academy today.

    Hans Mueh: “This was a difficult decision for everyone involved. I salute Mike for the job he did when we hired him under difficult circumstances. I only wish we would have been able to see the program develop further under his tenure. Mike will continue to be a great asset to us as an instructor in the department. We thank him for his seven years of service as our baseball coach and his service to the Academy.”

    Mike Hutcheon: “After a lot of thought and careful consideration I have decided to step down as the head baseball coach at the United States Air Force Academy at the conclusion of the year. It is important to note that this was a personal decision to leave the program and I never felt pressure in any way from the administration. I simply feel that the timing is right to step down and allow someone to take this program to the level we have all been working for these past 6 years. I would like to thank the senior staff and athletic director Hans Mueh for all of the support they have shown to me and my family”

  • Embattled Hutcheon to Resign at End of Season

    Sat, April 17, 2010 by admin with 25 comments

    Air Force baseball coach Mike Hutcheon told his team after Friday night’s 5-4 loss to Georgia Southern in Atlanta that he will resign at the end of the season, according to several sources with knowledge of his post-game remarks.

    The resignation will end a tumultuous seven-season tenure that was marked by trying times on the field and problems off of it.

    Friday’s loss was the Falcons’ ninth in a row and dropped them to 7-26 on the season. During Hutcheon’s tenure, Air Force is 72-271 including 13-143 in Mountain West Conference play.

    A week ago, Air Force announced the suspensions of five players for violations of academy standards. The suspensions came shortly after the Falcons removed two players from the team for disciplinary issues.

    The suspensions continued a trend of roster upheaval under Hutcheon. A pair of former starters left the team during the 2009 season, and four more players were cut after it. And when two juniors decided to stop playing in August, the Falcons had just one junior remaining on their roster – and there had been 14 members of the Class of 2011 on the roster when they were freshmen.

    Hutcheon, who was investigated – and cleared – by the academy for religious proselytizing early in his time at Air Force, had been under significant fire recently from some parents of former players and baseball alumni, who reached out to academy leadership seeking his removal.

    Hutcheon and athletic director Hans Mueh could not be reached for comment Friday night.

  • Baseball Dropped Again

    Sat, April 10, 2010 by admin with no comments

    Air Force’s baseball team lost to San Diego State on Saturday, 16-9, at Falcon Field.

    It was the sixth straight loss and 11th in the last 13 games for the Falcons, who fell to 7-23 on the season and 1-6 in Mountain West Conference play.

    Air Force has allowed 10 or more runs in 17 of its 30 games.

  • Saturday Links

    Sat, April 10, 2010 by admin with no comments

    Tough Friday night for the Air Force boxing team at the National Collegiate Boxing Association (NCBA) National Championships in West Point, N.Y.

    Senior 195-pounder Cory Tintzman was the only one of seven Falcon boxers to win his semifinal bout. He and junior 112-pounder Matt DeMars, who had a bye to the finals, will fight today for national titles.

    The baseball team had another tough day – losing to San Diego State and announcing the suspension of five players, to go along with two players who were removed from the team.

    And, this might sound familiar to basketball fans, former Air Force coach Jeff Bzdelik might be flirting with Wake Forest.

  • More Trouble for Baseball

    Fri, April 9, 2010 by admin with 6 comments

    Air Force announced this afternoon that seven players had been suspended from the baseball team for violations of academy standards.

    The players are seniors Addison Gentry and Michael Ruvolo, sophomore Blair Kessler and freshmen John Bramble, Travis Lane, Ethan Loosen and Caleb Spengler.

    That Ruvolo and Kessler were included on the list is curious. Baseball coach Mike Hutcheon confirmed to The Gazette two weeks ago that Ruvolo and Kessler had been removed from the team completely for violations of academy standards.