In case you didn’t know, it’s a pretty big time around these parts. We launchd AAE a little over a month ago, and ever since then, we’ve been counting down the days until we had our first leg of the CIC trophy to discuss.
As I’ve mentioned before, it’s kind of a weird deal being site manger for a blog dedicated to covering two of your rivals. I’ve been politically correct for a month, and let me tell you, that’s tough to do. But this week, ahh, this week I...still have to be site manager. And as much as I would love to get in on the action, I figure that’s why we have other service academy grads contributing on this site.
So, to officially kick off Beat ChAir Force/Sink Navy week, let’s give you a little inside look at the rivalry from the Q&A perspective of two of Against All Enemies most recent service academy graduates. Scott Lopez is our resident Air Force Academy grad and Gavin Jernigan is our most recent USNA alum. Both are here to answer some questions and give you the reader a little insight into what actually happens during the week in the lead up to the games. We will follow this up throughout the week with some deeper dives on exchange cadets, pranks, spirit spots, and more, and of course, there’s also a football game to discuss. But for now, let the trash talk begin...
What is Navy/Air Force week like at the respective academies?
Scott: Navy week is always the first service academy game of the year and it’s in the first week of October. We know that we’re kind of seen as ‘little brothers’ to Navy and West Point, and some of us (myself) think that the Army/Navy rivalry is overrated. So it’s important to us to go all out and show that we’re on the same level, actually even superior to both, when it comes to spirit missions, school pride, and of course, football. We have an exchange cadet program, so at USAFA we get around 10 Midshipmen for the semester and they’re pretty heavily targeted on the spirit missions. Freshmen can also pretty much get out of discipline for most minor things by claiming that they were overcome with school pride in the spirit of beating Navy. Also, we alternate hosting Navy and West Point for football games, and if Navy is at home, we blow up a giant wooden goat and have a bon fire in the cadet area. It’s a fun week.
Gavin: Air Force week is the first opportunity for Midshipmen to release from the stresses of service academy life. Occasionally, Air Force week will land on the same week as Midterm exams (called 6-weeks exams), which can take away from some of the pranks and hi-jinks. However, even if it does land on an exam week, the pranks help distract students from the upcoming tests.
Another nonsensical aspect of Air Force week is that Plebes(or freshman) “hit other company’s decks”. Hitting another company’s deck means to secretly go to a different floor and/or wing of Bancroft Hall(the 33 acre dormitory) and completely destroy the tiled floor with rotten milk, baby powder, ketchup, and any other substance you could think of. This requires the Plebes from the company that was “hit” to have to clean up the entire floor, while the entire area smells absolutely terrible for weeks. *insert Justin comment: Just as an aside, when I was a Plebe, we destroyed 10th company’s deck and then my Company Officer made us go clean it up for them at 2 in the morning. He was the worst. I never forgave him for that treachery. As you could imagine, the Plebes of the company that was “hit” would later go back and reciprocate the deed.
What are some of the best pranks you’ve seen from the rivalry?
Scott: Cadets are pretty creative. I guess that’s partially due to the fact that they’re all young men and women and they’re pretty locked down, so they use a week like service academy football weeks as a sort of creative outlet. Standard pranks are stealing all of the exchange midshipmen’s uniforms and leaving them only sailor outfits or mascot costumes from their squadron. Also, taking all of the furniture from their rooms and setting it up outside is pretty standard. Usually the exchange mids are pretty cool, so the freshmen who carry out the pranks aren’t too devious, but having to find a way to get about a thousand pounds of steel furniture back into your dorm by yourself is pretty cruel.
Gavin: Most Midshipmen leave Air Force exchange cadets alone. They’re typically pretty weird and timid, so nobody really bothers them.
But the best prank I’ve ever seen in general during Air Force week was my Plebe year when my fellow Plebe company mates brought back a dead stingray from the Severn River and left it on the duty desk for the company one floor below ours. We were instant legends and their floor stank of dead stingray for months. *insert Justin comment: Don’t worry folks. We are going to give you a rundown of some of our favorite pranks ever in a follow-up post, but this is pretty good.
What’s an average schedule for game day when Air Force/Navy is at home?
Scott: Game days are always fun, but Navy is always special to have at home. For one thing, it’s October, so the weather is usually great and not too cold yet. We’ll wake up for breakfast at around 7 am and occasionally have training, but then we’ll head to the tailgates at around 0930 for a noon kickoff. Each squadron holds their own tailgate in the cadet area and there’s always music, games, and lots of barbecuing. This is where cadets get their spirit cheese which is just Kraft singles that cadets throw like frisbees in the stadium after the Falcons make a big play. *insert Justin comment: I’m sorry, what? It’s stupid, but we don’t question it. Around 45 minutes before kickoff, the squadrons form up in the tunnel and wait for the march-on. I still get goosebumps thinking about just walking out on the field from the tunnel into a full stadium. It’s always a great game, but the cadets in the stands are always anxious to get the win so they can head to Denver or Colorado Springs afterwards to celebrate.
Gavin: For Mishipmen, Gameday isn’t really fun until the start of the game. They have to get in formation two hours prior to the game outside of Bancroft Hall and must march over a mile to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. *insert Justin comment: And little kids peg you in the face with candy However, once the game starts, the fight is on!
Would you rather see a Bowl Game Win or Commander in Chief Trophy?
Scott: Without a doubt, I want to win the Commander in Chief’s trophy. I actually have kind of a conspiracy theory that powers in the pentagon are doing whatever they can to prevent Air Force from being able to play on the same stage that Army and Navy do in December for America’s game. I have a proposed system devised in which there’s a three way race for Air Force, Army, and Navy to earn the right to play the final regular season game on the major network, but for some reason, General Mattis won’t return my phone calls. Air Force has the most years holding the Commander in Chief’s trophy, and although last year was rough, I think that trend will continue.
Gavin: Depends on the Bowl game. Since Navy is in the American Athletic Conference, there is a chance that Navy could play in a New Year’s Six Bowl. During the 2015 season, Navy ended the season 11-2, with its only losses to Notre Dame and Houston. But prior to the Houston game, Navy was 9-1. Had we won that game, we would have played for the AAC Championship game and potentially had a 12-1 record after the Army-Navy game. A record like that in the AAC now could get you in the talk of the College Football Playoff if the cards were right.
However in the scenario above, the CIC Trophy would be assumed. So...both?
Prediction for the game
Scott: It’s only right for me to be a homer, here, but I legitimately believe that Air Force is the better team. The Falcons have been struggling this year, but I think Navy’s coach, Ken Niumatalolo, is going to have a tough time digesting the Air Force game film. We’ve made so many changes this season, it’s going to be tough to know what to focus on. Also, if there’s anyone who knows how to beat service academies, it’s the Air Force coach, Troy Calhoun. I predict a close game, but I think Navy might get ahead early, but these games are always turnover-heavy. I think Air Force wins in a second half comeback 38-35.
Gavin: Anyone in their right mind would know Navy was the better team. However, the Midshipmen have been very inconsistent this year, especially on defense. But then again, Navy is coming off a bye week. But then again, Navy seriously struggles when traveling to Colorado Springs. If the Midshipmen come to play, it will be a blowout, 35-17. However, if they get off to a slow start...who knows. Air Force’s crowd can be pretty good and the air is thin.
Okay guys, let’s give you a chance for some trash talking. Here are some words for you to describe about each other’s schools. Some of the words might evoke strong emotions, others, simply confusion.
Gavin on Air Force words:
Air power: The Navy and the Marine Corps have more human aviators than the Air Force...so who really has the air power?
Falcon: ...Roast. We have a pep rally on Thursday during Air Force week where we burn a wooden Falcon, called the Falcon Roast.
Thin Air: *Cough Cough* It actually really is hard to breathe. I remember in 2012 running down the field to celebrate after we beat Air Force in overtime in Colorado Springs. I was a Plebe and wasn’t seeing much playing time, so I hadn’t felt the effects of the altitude. When I ran down the field about 60 yards, I was significantly out of breath.
Long Blue Line: Uhh..What?
Colorado Springs: See “Thin Air”. Other than that, no comment.
Mitch’s Mountain: No idea. Sounds like some place where Air Force Cadets go to cry.
Terrazzo: Isn’t that a desert?
Scott on Navy words:
The Yard: Perfect for post-Navy win barbecues. After beating Navy, it is customary for USAFA grads to pass around Jeremiah Weed and talk about other times we beat Navy.
Don’t Give Up the Ship: They can have it. Ships are 1800’s technology at best.
Qualifications of a Naval Officer: Quoting Top Gun verbatim and not spilling strawberry daiquiris on your whites.
Reef Points: I actually know this is sort of like our contrails. I thumbed through one. A bunch of quotes from guys who liked sailing.
Annapolis: Gorgeous town. Smells like fish guts and Old Bay.
Roll Goats: When you’re half way done cooking a goat on a spit and you have to turn it over.
All right, that’s all we’ve got for now. Hopefully this gets you excited for the week ahead, and your interest is piqued about all of the shenanigans that take place outside of that important football game on Saturday. We’re looking forward to an awesome week and be sure to come back to againstallenemies.com all week for more Air Force/ Navy week rivalry talk!