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New SI article on Army - Worth the Cost

Posted: 8/22/2014 12:05 PM

New SI article on Army - Worth the Cost 


Interesting read. 

http://www.si.com/college-football/2014/08/21/army-black-knights-jeff-monken
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Posted: 8/22/2014 4:20 PM

Re: New SI article on Army - Worth the Cost 


I wish people would stop giving Mears a forum to whine and cry foul.
We're sorry to inform you that you have been banned from all activity on GoMids.com forums. 
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Posted: 8/23/2014 12:57 PM

Re: New SI article on Army - Worth the Cost 


I thought it was a well-written article.  And, West Point needs to be doing the things that they are doing.

A few thoughts:

1.  Summer school is not as good because there needs to be more discussion.  Please.

2.  Summer training is an introduction to various disciplines the Army offers.  So if shortened, you miss some of the baloney.  I will take the football players every time who, by the way, have basically no leave.  And,

3.  I do think speed is the issue right now between Army, Air Force and Navy.  Navy just has more of it.
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Posted: 8/23/2014 2:26 PM

Re: New SI article on Army - Worth the Cost 



graytrousers wrote: I wish people would stop giving Mears a forum to whine and cry foul.

Agree! Even though a majority of his assertions from his infamous article have been discredited, references like this do nothing more than give them credence to the marginally informed.

“For he today who sheds his blood with me shall be my brother…and gentlemen in England now abed shall think themselves acursed they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap…”Henry V (W. Shakespeare)

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Posted: 8/23/2014 2:38 PM

Re: New SI article on Army - Worth the Cost 


Agree with the others...I think Mears has good intentions and truly believes what he's saying (and it is probably not bad to think through his concerns as a check), but it ultimately doesn't hold water for me.  I did a gig as an ROTC instructor and had some damn fine ROTC cadets (that became great officers) that tried like hell to get summer schools and details, but couldn't and ultimately sat around campus lifting and running.  The idea that somehow football players front-loading summer activities impedes their officer development is absurd to me.  In addition, my initial thought was summer classes equal smaller classes and more attention from the professor...almost like a catered curriculum to your learning style.  In most academic courses, I would think that more than offsets the "weaker" class discussions.  

I don't think we can give enough credit to altered summer structure.  The lifting and conditioning will likely help mitigate the injury issues...and the mental focus is huge.  Freeing players up to focus from July until the season starts, with little concern for anything else, should pay dividends.
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Posted: 8/23/2014 4:19 PM

Re: New SI article on Army - Worth the Cost 


I think if you try to understand guys like Mears you have to start from the position that Football and probably all intercollegiate sports have no place at West Point. That is really the only logical starting point for his feelings. If you start there then I can understand his passion. I played football and I can think of only a few things that I did not do that other cadets had to. Company tables for meals, drill, and some plebe duties...other than that I completed every other requirement for 4 years. I feel that I just as rich of an experience as other Cadets, however I had an additional mission while I was there.

That's is why I think his tactics are dishonest, because I do not feel he is arguing his true feelings. If everything was the same and we were a D III program I think Mears would still feel the same way, that football takes away from the overall Cadet experience. I think that his claim that about academic risks by incoming football players is overblown and a smoke screen for his true feelings. I share Mears' passion, only that I feel that football enhances the overall cadet experience... the same way a Ranger Tab enhances a non Infantry officer.

Mears is not the only one who feels this way, however today he has had the biggest platform for this common feeling. Mentored by Betros, his questionable arguments, discount any benefit that football players take from the football field and use as Army Officers. When you start there, you lose me. When you can't even acknowledge any possible benefit from Football or any sports for that matter, you lose all credibility except from the Washington Post and others who start from the same ideological point.

When West Point eliminates majors, makes everyone branch combat arms and instead of intramurals everyone does Sandhurst year round, I will join him in his crusade.
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Posted: 8/23/2014 5:08 PM

Re: New SI article on Army - Worth the Cost 


With all his credentials, Mears fails to understand that wars are won by competitive hard-hitting warriors, not pencil necked geeks carrying slide rules and plagiarizing Clausewitz.
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Posted: 8/23/2014 6:10 PM

Re: New SI article on Army - Worth the Cost 



100yrman wrote: I think if you try to understand guys like Mears you have to start from the position that Football and probably all intercollegiate sports have no place at West Point. 
Completely agree about Mears "true" agenda.  Certainly a crowd of higher academia exist at USMA who believe WP occupies the same stratum as Harvard, Yale, Penn, Berkley et al.  All good Ivy League elitists know that barbaric sports such as FB are inconsistent with intellectualism with no place in higher academia.  And, obviously participation in barbaric sports provide no value when educating a person to engage in the barbaric human endeavor of warfare.

Mears easily could have examined the disconnects between Army FB and Army service, then provide solutions to strengthen D1 NCAA FB at West Point and subsequent Army retention of former Army FB players.  If Army FB players are leaving the Army at a disproportionate rate, then find out why and figure out how to retain them.  But, Mears would rather destroy the Army FB program.  And, such a study would have been boring & unappealing to his crowd of higher academia.
Be Straight or Be Gone!  Moose Out.

Last edited 8/23/2014 6:10 PM by 86Moose

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Posted: 8/23/2014 9:52 PM

Re: New SI article on Army - Worth the Cost 


If you're familiar with his work on Facebook you already know he's always in search of a soapbox. The topic is largely irrelevant. He is in the business of letting people know he's an intellectual.

I wish Caslen could've dealt with him how he probably would have 60 years ago. There'd be one less pencil neck anti-warrior in the press.
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Posted: 8/23/2014 11:37 PM

Interesting 


First of all screw Mears and I'm glad he's out.  We don't need guys like him leading soldiers much less leading leaders.  Of all people he should be one to embrace all kinds and know first and foremost that leadership is about culture and his divisive positions are in direct conflict.  I can only imagine a football player having to serve under him.  How would he treat them?  I still stand on the fact that he's out of line for what he wrote in February and only demonstrates his ignorance when he tries to make the argument for what he thinks Admissions should be.  That's not his role nor does he have expertise in the subject.  

Secondly, thank god for Caslen calling out the "Mediocrity".  Jesus if there has ever been a word for what we've seen in too many things at USMA it's been Mediocre.  And for football that's being pretty darn nice about it.  

Lastly, you want to know where the real disservice is?  It's the fact that the Corps as a whole can't spend one year making the sacrifices our players make and lining up on a Saturday vs a Stanford and trying to compete all the while maintaining all the other requirements.  In other words it's not the football players that are missing out it's their peers who go without the deep understanding of what's required to compete, to win, and to be a part of not just an Army Team but a Winning Army Team.  It is a rich experience like no other.  

Beat Buffalo!  I

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Posted: 8/24/2014 10:11 AM

Re: Interesting 


I don't know MAJ Mears, but I can certainly see why he wrote what he did. I don't agree with it, but I see his reasons for writing it. We've beaten that horse to death months ago, so let's leave it dead and buried.

P&D, you make the point that it's a shame that the rest of the Corps doesn't experience what our football players do. I contend that a great many of them DO HAVE exactly the experiences you're talking about. Almost 25% of cadets play a Corps Squad sport, and a good number of those teams have winning records and conference level championships to boot. Likewise, they're doing all the same stuff as the rest of the Corps. I think that winter season sports have it worst in terms of what they miss. Almost all of them end up with no more than a few days of Christmas leave, they miss a lot of classes in both semesters (mid-week and weekend travel is far worse on classes than missing a few Fridays in the fall), bus trips to everywhere are far worse than plane trips. Likewise, we have another group of cadets competing at a high caliber in the club sports. Is it the same as D-1A football? No, but they certainly understand the concepts of team, winning, etc., that you pointed out.

I do agree with you that there's too much mediocrity at USMA lately, but I've come to realize that part of the reason for that is because we keep asking and expecting these kids to do more and more in the same 24 hours available in each day. The 20 year old's resonse to that is simply to do just enough to get by in each requirement. That's a simple equation to understand. While I applaud the Supe's focus on cultivating a winning spirit, and not accepting mediocrity, I haven't seen much in terms of taking things off the plate. It seems to me that until that happens, "good enough" will continue to be the level to which most cadets asspire in most things.

Beat 'em!
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Posted: 8/24/2014 10:16 AM

Re: New SI article on Army - Worth the Cost 


While I generally agree that Mears points are without merit in this situation, I'd like to point out that the author of the SI article is not Mears, but Mark Beech who wrote an excellent book on Army football entitled "When Saturday Mattered, The Last Golden Season of Army Football,"  which covers the 1958 team and discusses the changes in college football wrought by the rise of professional football and astronomical growth of TV revenues.  To understand where Beech is coming from in this article, it helps to be familiar with what was argued in his book. The SI article should be viewed as an extension of that. 

Many fans on this forum have been critical of the direction taken by college football in the past 50 years, and there has been legitimate discussion among ardent Army football fans as to what is the appropriate level of competition for Army.  Should we be attempting to keep up with the Power 5 teams, and are we willing to pay the price required to be competitive at that level?  To me that's the basic question addressed in the article, and it has some merit.  

Beech acknowledges that beating Navy is imbedded in the culture of West Point, and there's not much chance that we would change that, but perhaps the bigger question is whether the service academies should be pursuing the business model of the Power 5 or going more the route of the Ivy League. The recent changes in governance structure may force a lot of lower tier FBS programs to reconsider the situation, and the growing disparity between the haves and the have nots may force all three service academies to lower their sites a bit, which is what Beech seems to be arguing for.  Even the recent change in the price of parking is a reflection of a cultural change that many fans view as headed in the wrong direction. 

I've always maintained that the Patriot League was an appropriate level of competition for most of our varsity sports, and a number of serious football fans have argued that service academy football should be played at that level as well.  

From what I've seen, changes introduced by the Supe have not impacted negatively on the mission, despite what Mears thinks.  If football players are willing to sacrifice their vacation time for the good of the team, more power to them, and cadets other than athletes have been taking summer classes for years. Even in my day, when the athletes looked more like college students, I recognized and appreciated the extra effort required to play varsity sports, and no one that I knew begrudged the athletes their corps squad tables or missing parades.  The article would have been better if Beech had not relied on Mears as his main authority. 



 

 
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Posted: 8/24/2014 10:58 AM

Re: New SI article on Army - Worth the Cost 


This should be written to SI as a response. Well done.
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Posted: 8/24/2014 12:33 PM

Re: New SI article on Army - Worth the Cost 


glarson65 - I think you raised several excellent points. I wondered while reading the recent SI piece if Beech had sought any comment from the Supe, AD, or anyone at WP. Usually if an author asked for comment, but the people denied the request, the writer specifies that in the article. I didn't see anything like that in this case.

The other thing worth noting is that many of the most recent changes discussed in the article (earlier summer army training, summer school sessions, etc.) just started this summer. We have all of ONE iteration to use in judgment so far. The sing iteration also happened after Mears wrote his article and subsequently departed the faculty here. So, let's give the changes a little more time to play out and see how effective they really are.

Also not noted in the article was the fact that many of the participants in the early summer training were non football players. I know for a fact that almost every cadet competing for medical school went to the "football session" so they could focus on MCAT prep later in the summer. Likewise, many cadets competing for scholarships such as Rhodes and Marshall were also out there with the football team. The last big group was about 90 volunteers from across the Corps, each for their own reasons I'm sure.

The issue that some people had with the later summer sessions was that the summer sessions were added purely for the purpose of football. While the sessions may have been largely football players, that wasn't a 100% group either. Like many things new at WP, some will always disagree, even before the facts are in!

Beat 'em!
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Posted: 8/24/2014 1:30 PM

Re: New SI article on Army - Worth the Cost 



glarson65 wrote: 

Many fans on this forum have been critical of the direction taken by college football in the past 50 years, and there has been legitimate discussion among ardent Army football fans as to what is the appropriate level of competition for Army.  Should we be attempting to keep up with the Power 5 teams, and are we willing to pay the price required to be competitive at that level?  To me that's the basic question addressed in the article, and it has some merit.  

Beech acknowledges that beating Navy is imbedded in the culture of West Point, and there's not much chance that we would change that, but perhaps the bigger question is whether the service academies should be pursuing the business model of the Power 5 or going more the route of the Ivy League.

From what I've seen, changes introduced by the Supe have not impacted negatively on the mission, despite what Mears thinks. 
 
gl65.  Thanks for the Beech Cliff notes.  I was not familiar with his work.

I am always suspicious of the "Army cannot compete with Top 10 football powers, therefore should not be D1" arguments.  There is plenty of great space for Army occupy in D1 football between the extremes of Power 5 FB and the Ivy League.  While not Top 10 powers, Navy & Air Force (until recently) have occupied some great D1 real estate with great success.  We will never see Blaik's Glory Days again (nor will Navy or Air Force) but we can & should compete in D1 football.

The Navy & AF rivalries and C-in-C Trophy are the core foundation of our Army FB program.  Everything else is bonus.  Victories over Navy & AF with CINC Trophy is our biggest prize, not bowl games or national rankings.  If we downsize to FCS, we will give up any possible competitiveness with Navy & Air Force thereby abandoning these bedrock rivalries that define Army FB.  Of course, we could replace them with Coast Guard and Merchant Marine playing for a newly created Sec Def Cup.  The only way that Army could (or should) ever downsize to FCS would only be in conjunction with Navy & AF downsizing to FCS thereby preserving our core foundation.  To sacrifice the bond & purpose of inter-SA football competition should never be subject to discussion.  Competitive inter-SA sports competition should always remain paramount for all 3 SA athletic programs.
Be Straight or Be Gone!  Moose Out.
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Posted: 8/24/2014 1:41 PM

Re: Interesting 



wp1994 wrote: 

I contend that a great many of them DO HAVE exactly the experiences you're talking about. Almost 25% of cadets play a Corps Squad sport, and a good number of those teams have winning records and conference level championships to boot. Likewise, they're doing all the same stuff as the rest of the Corps. I think that winter season sports have it worst in terms of what they miss. Almost all of them end up with no more than a few days of Christmas leave, they miss a lot of classes in both semesters (mid-week and weekend travel is far worse on classes than missing a few Fridays in the fall), bus trips to everywhere are far worse than plane trips. Likewise, we have another group of cadets competing at a high caliber in the club sports. Is it the same as D-1A football? No, but they certainly understand the concepts of team, winning, etc., that you pointed out.
wp1994.  Agree that many other CS athletes maintain increased demands on their time with athletic success.  But, I think that you are comparing apples to oranges in some respects.

First, it is about timing & sequencing.  Football's primary pre-season run-up begins in mid-summer  when military training occurs.  Basketball, hockey, baseball and many other sports make their primary pre-season run-up during the academic year.  So, the other sports are able to integrate their pre-season workouts into an academic day without conflict to summer military training.  If basketball, hockey and baseball were Fall sports, they would have similar problems.

Second, Army is committed to participating at a higher level of NCAA competition than all other Army sports.  Rich Ellerson 45 minute morning practices & shortened Spring sessions notwithstanding, successful D1 football requires immensely more team preparation year-round than any other Army sport.  Football is a much more labor intensive sport requiring team training & coaching.  An Army swimmer can find a post swimming pool and do all necessary summer training keeping in touch with Army swim coach via Skye and email.  Same with many other individual sports such as cross country and track.

Like gl65, I have no problem with the Supe's re-sequencing.  And, I do believe that most cadets have little idea how much Army FB players sacrifice and the extra demands required to participate in D1 football.
Be Straight or Be Gone!  Moose Out.
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Posted: 8/24/2014 4:01 PM

Re: New SI article on Army - Worth the Cost 


CGA and MMA are DIII.
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Posted: 8/24/2014 4:22 PM

Re: New SI article on Army - Worth the Cost 


As a former player I would have loved to have had a summer like these guys just had. The standards haven't been lowered. The players completed all the same commissioning requirements that their peers completed, did them as well or better than their peers, and are front loading classes because of the requirements that go into being a successful football team. People like Dwight Meers will always exist and I would say they are jealous if anything. Jealous that they couldn't balance the schedule that these guys balance, jealous that Army Football players constantly succeed on a high level not only in the Army (Chief of Staff, Supe, Comm, etc.), but that they also succeed outside the Army (Anthony Noto, Illinois State Senator Mike Hastings, Mike Viti, and the list goes on and on). The same thing I said to people who thought we got over easy when I played, let's trade schedules for a day. Nobody would ever take me up on it. The article is garbage and I have lost a lot of respect for Sports Illustrated for putting their name behind that trash.
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Posted: 8/24/2014 5:40 PM

Re: Interesting 


86moose, it sounds like we're in more agreement than you think. I'm fully aware of the pre-season timing demands for football. That's exactly why they made the changes they did this year. The upper three classes finished their military training in June and very early July. Since that time, they were at WP doing academic class work in the morning, and football stuff (conditioning, lifting, etc.) in the afternoons.

I'm with you 100% on how misguided the priorities seemed under the former coach, especially with respect to practice time and intensity. I think you discount what other fall sports are doing though, because at the end of the day, they all face very similar overall time restrictions imposed by the NCAA.

I think it's safe to say that everyone at WP that knows more than a little about the topic wants to see a return to winning in our flagship program. The few times I've been in the presence of the Supe, AD, or football coach so far this year, it's abundantly clear that they're all rowing in the same direction on this task!

Beat 'em!
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Posted: 8/25/2014 9:56 AM

Ok WP1994 however 


Even if we assume all CS Sports are equal in terms of time and demands, and most probably are from a time standpoint, that still leaves the other 75% of the Corps.  So for every athlete their are 3 Cadets that are non CS Athletes. I'm just saying in the end we are way out numbered.
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