• AFA grad Jennings on College Football Hall of Fame ballot

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

    Air Force wide receiver Ernie Jennings, a 1971 graduate, is one of 75 Football Bowl Subdivision players on the 2014 College Football Hall of Fame ballot that was announced on Thursday.

    Here is the full press release from Air Force:


    Ernie Jennings on College Football Hall of Fame ballot

    Jennings4Former Air Force All-American wide receiver Ernie Jennings is on the 2014 ballot for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.

    Jennings was a consensus first-team All-American in 1970 and finished eighth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy. He helped lead the Falcons to the 1971 Sugar Bowl and holds every single-season and career receiving record at the Academy.

    Jennings is one of 75 players and six coaches from the Football Bowl Subdivision and 87 players and 26 coaches from the divisional ranks.

    The ballot was mailed this week to the more than 12,000 NFF members and current Hall of Famers whose votes will be tabulated and submitted to the NFF’s Honors Court, which deliberates and selects the class. Chaired by Gene Corrigan, a former ACC Commissioner and NCAA president, the 17-member NFF Honors Court includes an elite and geographically diverse pool of athletics directors, conference commissioners, Hall of Famers and members of the media.

    “It’s an enormous honor to just be on the ballot when you think that more than 4.99 million people have played college football,” said NFF President & CEO Steven J. Hatchell. “The Hall’s requirement of being a First-Team All-American creates a much smaller pool of only 1,500 individuals who are even eligible to be on the ballot, so being in today’s elite group means an individual is truly among the greatest to ever have played the game, and we are proud to announce their names.”

    The 2014 College Football Hall of Fame Class will be announced in May from Irving, Texas, and they will be inducted at the 57th NFF Annual Awards Dinner Dec. 9, 2014 at the landmark Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. The inductees will be permanently enshrined in the new College Football Hall of Fame at a date to be determined in 2015. The new Hall, currently under construction, will open in Atlanta in time for the 2014 college football season.

    To be eligible for the ballot, players must have been named a First Team All-American by a major/national selector as recognized and utilized by the NCAA for their consensus All-America teams; played their last year of intercollegiate football at least 10 years prior; played within the last 50 years and cannot be currently playing professional football. Coaches must have coached a minimum of 10 years and 100 games as a head coach; won at least 60 percent of their games; and be retired from coaching for at least three years. If a coach is retired and over the age of 70, there is no waiting period. If he is over the age of 75, he is eligible as an active coach. In both cases, the candidate’s post-football record as a citizen may also be weighed.

    Once nominated for consideration, all player candidates are submitted to one of eight District Screening Committees, depending on their school’s geographic location, which conducts a vote to determine who will appear on the ballot and represent their respective districts. Each year, approximately 15 candidates, who are not selected for the Hall of Fame, will be named automatic holdovers and will bypass the district screening process and automatically appear on the ballot the following year. Additionally, the Veterans Committee may make recommendations to the Honors Court for exceptions that allow for the induction of players who played more than 50 years ago.

    Of the 4.99 million individuals who have played college football since Princeton first battled Rutgers on Nov. 6, 1869, only 934 players have earned induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, or less than two ten-thousandths (.0002) of one percent of those who have played the game during the past 145 years. From the coaching ranks, 205 individuals have achieved Hall of Fame distinction.


  • Arizona coach parodies “Speed” in scathing, funny rebuttle to Calhoun’s committee

    Mon, March 3, 2014 by Brent Briggeman with no comments


    Arizona football coach Rich Rodriguez, along with some clever video editing, released a funny, scathing reaction to the rules committee’s recommendation that teams not be allowed to snap the ball until 10 seconds have run off the play clock. Rodriguez appears in a parody of the movie “Speed,” and makes no effort to hide his belief that agendas that had nothing to do with player safety led to the recommendation from the committee that is chaired by Air Force coach Troy Calhoun.

    Agree with the premise or not, the video is pretty funny.

  • Extra shooting from Olesinski should provide a glimmer of hope for Air Force

    Sat, March 1, 2014 by Brent Briggeman with no comments

    At 6:24 p.m. on Saturday, more than two hours after Air Force’s loss to UNLV, Marek Olesinski walked back onto the floor at Clune Arena to shoot.

    Olesinski had a miserable day on Saturday. The Falcons’ starting center went scoreless, going 0 for 4 from the field, including 0 for 3 from 3-point range. He grabbed just one rebound, had one turnover and one assist. He played just 17 minutes as he was pulled late for passing up an open shot.

    “That’s why we took him out,” coach Dave Pilipovich said. “He said he didn’t shoot it because he was a little off balance, but it was his confidence.”

    Olesinski, who is averaging 11.2 points, has reached double figures in just one of this past six games. When he’s not a major factor in the offense, Air Force is not the same team.

    On Saturday evening, Olesinski could have found other ways to spend his time or release his frustrations. Rather than vent or escape, he instead opted to return to the floor in an empty arena and try to fix those problems.

    Air Force players and coaches had plenty to say after a 93-67 blowout loss that might lead you to believe this season was in the tank. Pilipovich talked about players complaining of dead legs and a lack of enthusiasm. Freshman Zach Kocur spoke of a lack of a sense of urgency. Junior Kamryn Williams spoke of a need for better team chemistry and worried that the team tended to spend its time in small groups instead of as a whole.

    These issues are never mentioned after victories. But, to get those victories, Air Force is going to have to score more points. To score more points, there has to be more help from Olesinski.

    The fact that he obviously recognizes that should provide some hope that this season isn’t quite finished for Air Force.

  • WR MacArthur receives Air Force football’s top award

    Fri, February 28, 2014 by Brent Briggeman with no comments

    Receiver Ty MacArthur, who drew praise for both his talent and work ethic throughout an injury-filled career, won Air Force football’s top honor on Friday night as he was the recipient of the Brian Bullard Award.

    Below is the full press release sent out by Air Force: 


    Ty MacArthur takes home top honor at Air Force football banquet

    Senior wins coveted Brian Bullard Award


                    U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – Senior wide receiver Ty MacArthur won the Brian Bullard Memorial Award, the highest honor a Falcon football player can earn, at the annual Air Force Football banquet at the Academy.

                     MacArthur was limited to three games this season due to injury. He was the team’s top receiver prior to his injury with seven catches for 99 yards. He also had seven carries for 32 yards. MacArthur led the Falcons in received in 2012 with 24 catches for 411 yards. He finished his career with 35 catches for 611 yards and had a career-receiving average of 17.5 yards per catch.

                 The Bullard Award, established in 1984 and voted on by the football team, is based on the criteria that typifies the late Brian Bullard – unselfishness, 110 percent effort, total team commitment and pride in his role on the team whether he’s a starter or not. Bullard was a 1982 graduate of Air Academy High School in Colorado Springs. He attended the Academy the following year and played on the football team for two years. During Thanksgiving vacation in 1983, Bullard and his girlfriend, fellow cadet Dianne Williams, died from carbon monoxide poisoning while returning from a trip to Kansas in a snow storm.




    Brian Bullard Memorial Award Winners

    2013       Ty MacArthur
    2012       Jordan Eason
    2011       Jonathan Warzeka
    2010       Nathan Walker
    2009       Ben Garland
    2008       Shea Smith
    2007       Drew Fowler, Garrett Rybak
    2006       Gilberto Perez
    2005       Denny Poland
    2004       John Rudzinksi
    2003       Monty Coleman, Joe Schieffer
    2002       Tom Heier
    2001       Zach Johnson
    2000       Nate Beard, Matt Dayoc, Mike Gallagher
    1999       Charlie Jackson
    1998       Mike Tyler
    1997       Chris Gizzi
    1996       Lee Gutherie
    1995       Brandon Wilkerson
    1994       Steve Russ
    1993       Will McCombs
    1992       Grant Johnson
    1991       Kette Dornbush
    1990       Bill Price
    1989       Lance McDowell
    1988       Anthony Roberson
    1987       Rip Burgwald
    1986       Pat Evans
    1985       Pat Malackowski
    1984       Steve Kelly

  • Evidence points to sports being impacted if Air Force faces budget cuts

    Fri, February 28, 2014 by Brent Briggeman with no comments

    President Obama has yet to announce his budget, so anything regarding the impact of potential budget cuts to Air Force remains purely speculative. However, it’s becoming more and more clear that sports will be impacted if serious cuts need to be made.

    Also, we have obtained the following email sent from Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, the academy’s superintendent, to a former baseball player. Judge for yourself, but Gen. Johnson certainly doesn’t dismiss the possibility that sports will be in the crosshairs.

    As The Gazette reported earlier this week, supporters from several sports have shown concern over rumors that they could be cut at the academy.

    Here is the superintendent’s full letter:


    I have refrained from responding to the many emails I’ve received
    regarding sports at USAFA, primarily because every budget decision
    remains predecisional until the USAF makes decisions based on the
    President’s Budget due next week.  We have however by necessity
    absolutely had to build contingency plans.

    Also, if you are familiar with my background, you’ll know that as a
    former Academic All American  USAFA basketball player I completely
    understand the value intercollegiate sports to the aspect of Competition
    in the education and training programs at our Air Force’s Academy.

    Of course I do not desire to cut or lose any sports, any academic
    courses, any enlisted military trainers, or any support for various
    installation maintenance projects–including the Chapel– or anything
    else.  However, our DOD and our Air Force are entering an interwar
    period of change and drastically reduced budgets.  About 25,000 active
    duty airman–officers and enlisted, thousands of GS civilians and
    hundreds of aircraft–entire fleets–could be cut. Our senior AF leaders
    must make gut wrenching decisions on a large scale. We simply cannot
    afford the status quo.

    We have thought through carefully and are continuing to analyze how we
    can align ourselves with  AF needs while preserving the Essence of what
    the AF needs from its Academy.

    I try to keep our challenges in the context of the big picture.

    I hope you can do so as well.

    Thank you for your concern.

    Very respectfully,

    Michelle Johnson
    Lt Gen USAF

  • Air Force fencer saves life of girl, 15, with Heimlich maneuver

    Fri, February 21, 2014 by Brent Briggeman with no comments

    Air Force issued the following press release today, detailing the quick thinking that allowed sophomore fencer Madeleine Girardot to save the life of a 15-year-old Colorado Springs girl while in Virginia Beach for a fencing competition.


    Air Force fencer performs the life-saving action


    Madeleine Girardot

    U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo. – Air Force sophomore fencer Madeleine Girardot, Atlanta, Ga., CS23, performed the life-saving Heimlich maneuver on a young fencer, Helen Landwehr from Colorado Springs while at the North American Cup in Virginia Beach, Jan. 18, 2014.

    As told by Head Coach Abdel Salem: After a long day of fencing at the North American Cup in Virginia Beach, the Air Force fencing team went to dinner at a Japanese restaurant. There were a lot of other fencers at the restaurant and we ended up sitting next to some fencers from Colorado Springs. Madeleine was sitting three seats away from Helen.

    According to Salem, Helen is a quiet fifteen year old young lady and was at the dinner sitting across from her mother. We were all engaged in conversation throughout the evening. Helen seemed to be having fun sitting with the cadets from the Air Force Academy fencing team. Suddenly, Helen started looking at her mother. Helen did not say anything, but tears were running from Helen’s eyes, in a way that I had never experienced before. It was like a faucet had suddenly turned on inside her eyes. Helen’s mom asked, “Helen, what’s wrong?” Helen did not answer, but the tears kept rolling. Madeleine approached Helen and, asked her if she is choking. She did not respond as tears still streamed down Helen’s face, and her lips had a strange blue color to them. Madeleine came up behind Helen’s seat and delivered two strong blows to the girl’s back. It did not appear to be working because Helen was still crying, unable to speak or breathe, and was slowly turning more blue. Madeleine authoritatively said to Helen “If you are choking stand up now.” Madeleine decided to take over the situation and deal with it. Helen stood up, still looking very distressed as Madeleine placed herself behind Helen and performed the Heimlich maneuver.

    I was very impressed with Madeleine for taking charge of the situation. After administering the Heimlich maneuver twice to Helen; she seemed relieved and less stressed even if the tears were still falling. She looked very embarrassed, but still smiled. It seemed like no one knew exactly what was going on. Even Helen sounded as if she did not fully understand what was happening. Madeleine told everyone that everything was okay, “Helen was plainly choking.”

    When Madeleine saw Helen smiling, breathing, and able to talk, she returned to her seat. When others asked why nothing came out of Helen’s mouth as it does in the movies, Helen said that she could not breathe or talk and that when Madeleine performed the Heimlich maneuver, she felt something come out of her throat. She said she was too embarrassed to spit it out because that would be impolite, so she swallowed the piece of food. After that, she felt better. Everyone was happy, and Helen, although a little hesitant to eat again, carefully began to start eating and enjoy her night.

    Madeleine was receiving a lot of praise from the adults, cadets, other fencers and the waitress. Nonetheless, Madeleine did not act as if she had done anything heroic. On the contrary, she only saw herself as sensing someone in need and stepping in to help. I did not think much about it until later when I got an email from Helen’s coach. The email said, “Helen’s mother wants everyone to know about the incident and how grateful and impressed she was at the confidence and skill Madeleine demonstrated. She told her entire club that one of the Academy’s fencers had saved her daughter’s life.”

    “I knew she was choking because she started off trying to cough, and when I looked back a few moments later she appeared not to be breathing, there were tears pouring down her face, and she looked a little different color,” said Girardot.

    “In high school I was a lifeguard, I am CPR AED certified and learned all of those techniques, including the Heimlich maneuver.”  Girardot attended Henry W. Grady High School in Atlanta.

    Girardot adds, “I think it is important for everyone to know basic life-saving techniques because you never know when and if you might be in a situation where you will need to use them.”

  • Mountain West clarifies Thanksgiving week policy as it impacts AFA

    Fri, February 21, 2014 by Brent Briggeman with no comments

    Air Force coach Troy Calhoun detests playing games on Saturday following Thanksgiving, but he no longer has any choice.

    Under the Mountain West’s new format, which includes a championshp game, all teams must play the week prior to that game. Not having a game in that week, the league reasons, would provide an unfair advantage for a team that would gain extra rest and preparation time for that game.

    As it stands that championship game is scheduled for the week after Thanksgiving weekend, which means Air Force is stuck with a game following the holiday for the foreseeable future.

    “We used to request nearly every time,” said Javan Hedlund, the Mountain West’s associate commissioner. “But it’s now the policy where everyone has to play that weekend unless somehow the calendar changes.”

    Calhoun had prefered to take that weekend off in an effort to provide his players with a needed break. Freshmen, in particular, have been at the academy for five months at that point and the Thanksgiving break allows them a chance to return home. With a game on that Saturday, the football teams remains at the academy during that week. The only opportunity to return home then becomes an open-week weekend, but that is generally only a two- or three-day refresher.

    The next opportunity for the cadet athletes to return home is on Christmas, but as the team learned during a run of six consecutive bowl games, that trip is also often cut short because of football.

  • Air Force football schedule released

    Thu, February 20, 2014 by Brent Briggeman with no comments

    The Mountain West released its full football schedule on Thursday. Air Force already knew its opponents and locations, but the schedule gives the order of those games (specific days can change as television networks take games and can move them to Thursdays and Fridays).

    The primary item of note is that the Falcons largely miss the potential for terrible weather in its road schedule. They hit Wyoming on Sept. 6 and the two conference road games in November will be played at San Diego State and UNLV.

    Also, the Falcons have a standing request with the Mountain West to not play the week of Thanksgiving, and that has again been ignored as the Falcons will host Colorado State two days after the holiday on Nov. 29.

    Air Force’s open dates are Sept. 20 and Oct. 25, which breaks the schedule as perfectly as possible with three games before the first bye, four games between the two and four games following the second.

    Click here for the full Mountain West schedule

    Here is the full schedule as it now stands. Again, dates can shift within two or three days.

    Aug. 30 – Nicholls State at Air Force
    Sept. 6 – Air Force at Wyoming
    Sept. 13 – Air Force at Georgia State (at the Georgia Dome)
    Sept. 27 – Boise State at Air Force
    Oct. 4 – Navy at Air Force
    Oct. 11 – Air Force at Utah State
    Oct. 18 – New Mexico at Air Force
    Nov. 1 – Air Force at Army
    Nov. 8 – Air Force at UNLV
    Nov. 15 – Nevada at Air Force
    Nov. 22 – Air Force at San Diego State
    Nov. 29 – Colorado State at Air Force

  • 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




  • Issues to watch during spring football for Air Force

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

    What to watch in Air Force spring practice
    “Spring” practice begins for Air Force on Wednesday afternoon with the start of 15 dates that will be competed by the actual beginning of spring. Semantics aside, there are plenty of issues to watch as the Falcons begin rebuilding after a 2-10 season, here are a few:

    1. Coaching assignments
    With two new coaches in the mix – Tim Cross and Ron Vanderlinden – the Falcons will likely reveal who will be coaching in which spots. The only change coach Troy Calhoun has confirmed is that Steve Russ has assumed the sole defensive coordinator position and will coach defensive backs, a switch from coaching inside linebackers and perhaps indicative of an intention to be more physical vs. receivers on the line of scrimmage.

    2. Personnel in the running game
    After losing its top rusher and three starting offensive lineman, spring practice figures to be an open audition to fill the key components in the Falcons’ running attack. Jon Lee figures to be the frontrunner to take the bulk of carries at tailback, but after an injury-plagued junior season that saw him gain just 429 yards – 130 of which came in the opener against Colgate. Calhoun likes durability, so look for sophomore Devin Rushing to get an honest crack at the position.

    3. Everything on defense
    Only one senior starter will be missing from last year’s squad, but that doesn’t mean changes won’t be in order for a unit that ranked near the bottom on the nation in nearly every key statistic. The change in coaches could signal a change in philosophy or scheme, which in turn could impact the personnel. No returning starter should be considered untouchable when it comes to a position battle.


    Tentative Practice Schedule

    Wednesday – 3:15 p.m., Practice fields/HAC
    Thursday – 3:15 p.m., Practice fields/HAC
    Saturday – 9:30 a.m., Practice fields/HAC
    Monday – 3:15 p.m., Practice fields/HAC
    Feb. 26 – 3:15 p.m., Practice fields/HAC
    Feb. 27 – 3:15 p.m., Practice fields/HAC
    Mar. 1 – 9:30 a.m., Falcon Stadium
    Mar. 3 – 3:15 p.m., Practice fields/HAC
    Mar. 4 – 3:15 p.m., Practice fields/HAC
    Mar. 6 – 3:15 p.m., Practice fields/HAC
    Mar. 8 – 9:30 a.m., Falcon Stadium/HAC
    Mar. 11 – 3:15 p.m., Practice fields/HAC
    Mar. 12 – 3:15 p.m., Practice fields/HAC
    Mar. 18 – 3:15 p.m., Practice fields/HAC
    Mar. 19 – 3:15 p.m., TBA