2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Notes from Air Force spring football practice

    Thu, March 6, 2014 by Brent Briggeman with no comments

    Spring game officially set for District 20 Stadium

    Air Force will play its spring football game at District 20 Stadium at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 19.

    Coach Troy Calhoun said plans were finalized on Thursday morning, fulfilling his request to not only play the program’s first spring game in several years, but to do so at a venue that would make it more accessible to fans.

    District 20 Stadium is adjacent to Liberty High School, near the intersection of Research and Powers in northeast Colorado Springs.


    Uncertainty on serious issues

    Calhoun refused comment when asked how pending cutbacks in budget and personnel might impact the football program, and on whether any football players were among the 40 freshmen being investigated for cheating on a chemistry test.

    “There’s been nothing that’s happened in terms of, that involves any of our… we’ll find out who it involves as we go,” Calhoun said of the cheating scandal. “If any.”


    Linebacker Nichol misses practice

    Junior linebacker Joey Nichol wore a red shirt in practice on Thursday, as he was out with what Troy Calhoun described as lingering effects from a groin injury suffered this past season as well as an shoulder problem.

    “I don’t think it’s anything more than a one-week thing,” Calhoun said.


    Calhoun on the quarterbacks

    The Air Force coach, a former quarterback, talked about the three guys seeing time at that position this spring – Nate Romine, Karson Roberts and Colton Huntsman:

    “Those three guys are getting all the reps right now. It’s been good. It’s been very good for them. They are clearly better players than they were in August, or last year. Clearly. Just for them to be able to get this much, day after day, just concentrated and intense work is only going to make them better players. I think they understand the offense better, they have better poise, when it comes to delivering the ball, changing a play, just handling the ball more than anything else, you can tell. They’re able to make more plays with their feet just because they’re more decisive. For all those guys, they’ve had good springs.”

  • Falcons give football coaching staff a shakeup

    Tue, February 18, 2014 by Brent Briggeman with no comments

    Titles and responsibilities received a thorough makeover as Air Force released its new coaching roster in advance of the beginning of spring practice.

    Mike Thiessen will take over as the sole offensive coordinator – a position he split with three others last year – and Steve Russ will be the defensive coordinator.

    The major positions shifts include Matt Weikert from defensive line to outside linebackers, Russ from inside linebackers to defensive backs and John Rudzinski from outside linebackers to secondary.

    Newly hired veteran coaches Tim Cross and Ron Vanderlinden were given their spots on the defense, with Cross coaching the line and Vanderlinden the inside linebackers.

    The Falcons also brought aboard Capt. Drew Fowler as an assistant linebackers coach. Fowler is a 2008 Air Force graduate who was twice voted the team’s defensive MVP and led the Mountain West in tackles as a junior.



    Air Force football coaching staff (last year’s title/role is listed in parenthesis if there was a change)

    Troy Calhoun, head coach



    Mike Thiessen, offensive coordinator/wide receivers (Assistant head coach/offensive coordinator/wide receivers; *-denotes newcomer)

    Clay Hendrix, associate head coach/offensive line (associate head coach/offensive coordinator/offensive line)

    Jake Campbell, assistant backfield

    Ben Miller, special teams coordinator/running backs

    Jake Moreland, tight ends

    Blane Morgan, quarterbacks (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks)



    Steve Russ, assistant head coach/defensive coordinator/defensive backs (assistant head coach/co-defensive coordinator/inside linebackers)

    *Tim Cross, defensive line

    *Capt. Drew Fowler, assistant linebackers

    Lt. Col. Steve Pipes, assistant defensive line (JV head coach/varsity assistant)

    John Rudzinski, recruiting coordinator/secondary (recruiting coordinator/outside linebackers)

    *Ron Vanderlinden, inside linebackers

    Matt Weikert, outside linebackers (defensive line)



    Steve Senn, executive assistant/quality control

    Matt McGettigan, Strength and Conditioning




  • Online chat set for noon today

    Wed, September 7, 2011 by admin with 1 comment

    Here’s a link to the online chat, which goes live at noon Mountain.

    This week, Frank Schwab will talk AFA football, notably upcoming opponent TCU, and CC hockey writer Joe Paisley will talk college hockey, including the future CC captains practices. AFA hockey and other topics are welcome, of course.

  • Online chat set for noon Wednesday

    Tue, September 6, 2011 by admin with no comments

    Thanks for such a good response last week with the first of the weekly noon Wednesday chats for Gazette sports. Another is planned for this Wednesday at noon Mountain and we hope you’ll join us.

    We’ll post a link to the online chat when it becomes available.

    This week, Frank Schwab will talk AFA football, notably upcoming opponent TCU, and CC hockey writer Joe Paisley will talk college hockey, including the future CC captains practices. Other topics are welcome, of course.

  • Grab bag: Football, hockey and hoops

    Fri, January 28, 2011 by admin with no comments

    Air Force football has added Michigan to its schedule.

    Air Force hockey readies for a home series against Canisius. Here are 3 Things to Watch tonight.

    Former Air Force men’s basketball coach Joe Scott, now at Denver, is familiar with jump-starting a program at a school where another sport is king, according to cbssports.com.

  • First Look: UNLV

    Tue, August 3, 2010 by admin with no comments

    This is the 12th and final installment of my offseason “First Look” series, in which I take a quick peek at each of the Air Force football team’s 2010 opponents. Today, we’ll take a look at the team the Falcons meet in their regular season finale – UNLV.

    But if you missed any of the first 11 installments, here are links to them: Northwestern State, BYU, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Navy, Colorado State, San Diego State, TCU, Utah, Army and New Mexico.

    Bobby Hauck
    2009 Record: 5-7 (3-5, 6th place in the Mountain West Conference)
    2009 vs. AF: Air Force 45, UNLV 17
    2009 in a Sentence: The Rebels started out 2-1, with the loss coming by two points to Oregon State, but they dropped six of their next eight to fall out of contention for a bowl, which led to the firing of head coach Mike Sanford.
    Off/Def Starters Back: 8/7
    Roster Report: UNLV should have some firepower on offense with the return of several key skill position players and a solid offensive line.

    But offense hasn’t been the Rebels’ problem in recent seasons.

    In 2009, the Rebels ranked 115th out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision squads in total defense, allowing 456.2 yards per game, including 220.6 rushing yards per game (tied for 112th in the country). They also gave up 32.4 points per game (103rd nationally).

    First-year coach Hauck said at the MWC media days that the Rebels’ defense needs to become more technically sound and eliminate errors.

    “We need to have our defensive plays where people are making mistakes decrease,” he said. “If you have guys in the wrong gaps or guys blowing coverages, it doesn’t take many plays before the game gets away from you.”

    Offensively, the Rebels return a pair of experienced quarterbacks.

    Senior Omar Clayton has started 23 games for the Rebels and ranks sixth in school history with 4,742 passing yards. Also back is junior Mike Clausen, who played in every game last season. They’ll have one of the league’s best receivers in junior Phillip Payne, who was a preseason All-MWC selection after catching 58 passes for 661 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns in 2009.

    Up front, the Rebels return four starters, including center John Gianninoto and tackles Matt Murphy and Evan Marchal.

    Hauck wants to get away from the wide-open spread attack employed by Sanford and go with one built around a physical running game. But that’s a change that will happen over time.

    “It would be crazy for us to not have some spread concepts in our offense because we’ve got spread personnel,” Hauck said.

    Fast Fact: Hauck went 80-17 in seven seasons at Montana.

    But he has a huge challenge in front of him in Vegas.

    Since going 8-5 in 2000, UNLV has not had a winning record.

    The records the Rebels have posted since then, starting in 2001: 4-7, 5-7, 6-6, 2-9, 2-9, 2-10, 2-10, 5-7, 5-7.

    What Caught My Eye: The Rebels’ schedule. In addition to their MWC slate, they play Idaho, West Virginia and Hawai’i on the road and open at home against Wisconsin. In all, the Rebels face nine teams that appeared in bowl games last season.

    No wonder MWC commissioner Craig Thompson believes UNLV “over-scheduled.”

    Jake’s Way Too Early Line vs. Air Force: Air Force, minus-13.5. The regular season finale is Air Force’s lone game that won’t be played on a Saturday. So after 11 straight games, the Falcons will have to adjust to a short week of practice and a quick turnaround. But while crazy things tend to happen in Las Vegas, the Falcons still appear to be a safe bet here.

    Final Thought: Yes, the Mike Sanford Era has ended. But we’ll always have this moment.

  • Thursday Morning Links

    Thu, July 29, 2010 by admin with no comments

    Some more news from the Mountain West Conference Media Days in Las Vegas …

    I wrote about commissioner Craig Thompson’s State of the Conference address, which touched on Utah leaving and Boise State joining the league, the quest for automatic-qualifying BCS status and television.

    Frank wrote about how senior cornerback Reggie Rembert’s goal for the Falcons is a league title.

    And David Ramsey wrote a great column about former Falcon great Chad Hall, who is trying to earn a spot with the Philadelphia Eagles.

    Finally, make sure you start following Frank on Twitter (twitter.com/gazetteairforce). He talked to the representatives of bowls with MWC ties out here in Vegas and recently did some tweets about possible destinations for Air Force and how the Independence Bowl likes the Falcons.

  • Morning Links from Vegas

    Wed, July 28, 2010 by admin with no comments

    Good morning from Las Vegas. New day, new hope. Not that we need hope because we took a beating in craps last night or anything.

    Wait, was that out loud?

    Anyway, we’ll be providing more coverage from the Mountain West Conference Media Days in Las Vegas. Frank will be tweeting (@GazetteAirForce) and we’ll both be blogging. MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson will be giving his annual State of the Conference address shortly. And student-athletes from all nine league schools will be available for interviews.

    I wrote yesterday about how Air Force coach Troy Calhoun believes the league will be better than ever, in part because of all the talented, experienced quarterbacks returning.

    Frank wrote a notebook about several subjects, including some news about the Falcons’ linebackers, Air Force’s spot in the media poll and the three players who made the preseason all-conference squad.

  • Utah not focusing on Pac-10 but not ignoring it

    Tue, July 27, 2010 by admin with no comments

    Representatives of the Utah football program are making what will be their last appearance at the Mountain West Conference football media days.

    Next year, Utah will leave the league and join the Pac-10. It was an obvious topic of discussion Tuesday at the league’s media days at Red Rock Resort. Coach Kyle Whittingham said the Utes couldn’t dwell on the conference switch but couldn’t ignore it either.

    “Our focus right now is right here,” he said. “But it’s looming and you’ve got to prepare for it, starting with recruiting. This class we’re signing right now, we’re getting commitments from right now, is the class that’s going to be competing in that league. So you’ve got to address it. You can’t just completely shut it out.”

  • Hoke wants to honor Coryell

    Tue, July 27, 2010 by admin with no comments

    San Diego State coach Brady Hoke mentioned the July 1 death of legendary coach Don Coryell during his remarks on Tuesday.

    The man whose “Air Coryell” offenses were instrumental in the development of the modern passing game coached at San Diego State from 1961 to 1972, going 104-19-2 in that time.

    “The legacy that coach Coryell had at San Diego State – and still has, obviously – is something that as a football program we’re going to be very, very accountable to,” Hoke said. “It was a big loss for the Aztec community.”