Monday, May 19, 2008



The Gazette's Air Force Sports Blog has moved. It now can be found at

The new address is attached to the Gazette's web site, which is better because now the Powers That Be can keep track of how much traffic it gets.

Every post I've made to the blog - along with all the corresponding comments from readers - has been moved over to the new address. And, don't worry, the BlogDog will move along with the site.

So, once again, please bookmark this site: And visit often, as it is updated frequently (and, come August and the start of football, it will be updated almost daily).


Jake Schaller

Friday, May 16, 2008

First Look: Wyoming

I started my blog’s “First Look” series last week with a quick peek at New Mexico (scroll down to take a look at the Lobos).

I’m going to do these periodically throughout the offseason because there never should be a time when we’re not talking football. (Note: If my father is reading this, I know that’s a double-negative, but I thought it was more fun to write than “we always should be talking football”).

Anyway, without further ado, here’s a look at the Cowboys:

2007 Record: 5-7, 2-6
Off/Def Starters Back: 8/7
Last Year vs. AF: Air Force 20, Wyoming 12
This Year vs. AF: Sept. 6 at Wyoming

Roster Report: The Cowboys bring back eight offensive starters from their 2007 squad, including running back Devin Moore (965 yards, five TDs). Backup running back Wynel Seldon (554 yards, eight TDs) also is back along with – get this – all five starting offensive linemen from 2007: Center Tim Bond (6-foot-4, 300 pounds), guards Russ Arnold (6-4, 290) and Sam Sterner (6-4, 297) and tackles Kyle Howard (6-7, 312) and Ryan Otterson (6-5, 289). Expect Wyoming to make more of a commitment to the run.

The defense will be tough up front as well with three starters back – tackle John Fletcher (6-6, 280), nose guard Fred Givens (6-0, 301) and end Mitch Unrein (6-4, 270). Also back is senior inside linebacker Ward Dobbs, who led Wyoming and ranked seventh in the Mountain West Conference in 2007 with 8.2 tackles per game.

The big question for the Cowboys is who will play quarterback. Last year’s starter, Karsten Sween, is back, but he struggled at times in 2007 and he did not lock down the starting role in spring practices. The Cowboys also are struggling to find a replacement for kicker/punter Billy Vinnedge.

Fast Fact: Wyoming, which lost 12 fumbles and threw 19 interceptions in 2007, ranked last in the MWC and 112th in the NCAA in turnover margin (minus-1.0 per game). The Cowboys committed five turnovers in last season’s loss to Air Force including a fumble that Bobby Giannini returned 85 yards for a game-changing touchdown. Wyoming has to improve in this area if it wants to compete for the MWC crown.

What Caught My Eye: This is Year Six of the Joe Glenn Era. And I think that ol’ Cowboy Joe officially has to be considered on the hot seat.

Since the 2004 season when Wyoming beat UCLA in the Las Vegas Bowl, the Cowboys have struggled, going 15-20, including 9-15 in the MWC. And two of the last three seasons have been marked by disastrous collapses. In 2005 the Cowboys started 4-1 before losing six straight. Wyoming started 4-1 last season as well, but then lost six of its final seven, including a 50-0 loss to Utah (which was accompanied by Middle-Finger-Gate – Glenn giving Kyle Whittingham a one-fingered salute after the Utes kicked an onsides kick with the game well in hand).

So, you combine all the returning talent with recent disappointment and I think it equals this: Glenn has to win now.

Final Thought: If Wyoming can sort out its quarterback situation, it could be a surprise team in the conference. But the Cowboys will be tested with games on the road against BYU, New Mexico, TCU and Tennessee.

Way Early Line vs. AF: Wyoming -6. The Cowboys get Air Force in Laramie in the second week of the season when Air Force’s neophyte team still will be getting its collective feet wet. This game will be a big-time tone-setter for both teams.

More on the Pro Policies

I’ll be a talking about the service academies' pro policies, and specifically Army's Alternative Service Option, on TV tonight. I'll be a guest on College Sports Tonight, a program on CBS College Sports (formerly CSTV). The show will air at 5 (MT) and again at 9.

Tune in and watch why I write for a living instead of working for a TV network.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

DeBerry Foundation 5K Run & Walk Saturday

Don’t forget about a great event for a great cause this weekend.

On Saturday afternoon at 3, the Fisher DeBerry 5K Run and Walk will be held – rain or shine – at America the Beautiful Park. Coach DeBerry will be there along with special guest Rudy Ruettiger – the famous Notre Dame walk-on who inspired the movie Rudy. Coach DeBerry and Rudy will present medals to the top three finishers in each race and age category.

The registration fee for adults is $20 before 6 p.m. Friday and $25 the day of the race. The fee for children and students is $15 before 6 p.m. Friday and $20 the day of the race. Each participant will receive a t-shirt, and all registrants will be eligible to win raffle prizes and get free tickets to a Colorado Springs Sky Sox game. Food from Chick-fil-A will be provided.

The event benefits the Colorado Springs FCA, Santa’s Workshop and Young Lives.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Rabold Update/Pro Policy Update

According to Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, outside linebacker John Rabold will try out with the Denver Broncos on Thursday.

Rabold won’t be participating in a mini-camp, like inside linebacker Drew Fowler did with the Detroit Lions and running back/receiver/returner Chad Hall did with the Atlanta Falcons. But it’s at least a chance to show what he can do. Calhoun said if Rabold impresses the Broncos, he could get invited to a camp.

Here’s a big problem for all Air Force players trying to catch on with NFL teams: With NFL Europe folding, the NFL now allows teams to have only 80 players on their rosters at the start of training camp. There are no additional exemptions. That cut out about eight players on each of the 30 teams and undoubtedly has made teams less likely to invite kids who will have to serve on active duty in the military for two years before getting a chance to play.

Speaking of that two-year policy …

David Chu, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, has sent a letter to the secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force to clarify the Department of Defense policy regarding officers playing professional sports, Air Force Academy sports information director Troy Garnhart said.

The policy, issued last August and implemented on Jan. 1, 2008, states officers must serve two years of active duty before applying for excess leave or early release from active duty to pursue a professional sports career.

But while Air Force and Navy both are following that policy closely, Army players are able to go straight to the NFL as long as they earn a roster spot. Why? In 2005 the Army instituted what it calls its Alternative Service Option Program. It allows graduates who remain on rosters to play professionally and serve as part-time Army recruiters.

Army basically is saying that program overrules the DoD policy.

While I don’t know this for sure, I’m guessing Chu’s letter was sent to try to rein in Army – to encourage strongly that Army follow the DoD policy to the letter like Air Force and Navy.

Army’s policy came under scrutiny after Caleb Campbell, an Army defensive back, was selected in the seventh round of the recent NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. The selection brought tons of publicity to Campbell and Army. And not all of it was positive.

Folks at both Air Force and Navy think the rules should be the same for all three service academies. They think Army’s policy gives it a recruiting advantage over its service academy rivals. And many question how Army could justify it. The DoD policy, after all, is extremely clear: You must serve two years of active duty before you play pro ball. As Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk told The Annapolis Capital, “Army has redefined active duty to include playing professional sports.”

Whether Chu’s letter will cause the Army to alter its policy is uncertain. When I inquired about Army’s policy shortly after the draft, Lt. Col. Jonathan Withington, a press officer for the department of defense, wrote me an e-mail that stated, in part, “it is up to the Military Departments to interpret and apply that policy.”

I guess Army could stick by its interpretation and contend playing professional sports while serving as a part-time recruiter constitutes active duty service.

But even if it does, I don’t think we’ve heard the last of the discussion on this policy.

AJC Hall Article

Nice story on Chad Hall’s tryout with the Atlanta Falcons in the Atlanta Journal Constitution today.

Here’s the link.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

First Look: New Mexico

With spring football in the rearview mirror and the preseason still a few months away, I’m going to throw out some initial observations about Air Force’s 2008 opponents from time to time.

I’m going to go in no particular order and there won’t be a set schedule. I’ll just pass on some thoughts from talking to colleagues and reading stories from other media outlets.

I was a guest on The Mtn.’s Around The Mountain show this week, and one of the teams we discussed was New Mexico. So I’m starting with the Lobos.

2007 Record:
Off/Def Starters Back: 6/6
Last Year vs. AF: New Mexico 34, Air Force 31
This Year vs. AF: Oct. 23 (Thursday) at Air Force

Roster Report: The Lobos lost a pair of first-team All-Mountain West Conference receivers to graduation – Marcus Smith and Travis Brown. They combined to catch 167 passes for 2,156 yards and 10 touchdowns. But the Lobos, while inexperienced overall, have starters back at key positions. Junior-to-be Donavan Porterie returns at quarterback after passing for 3,006 yards and 15 touchdowns last year; Senior-to-be Rodney Ferguson, coming off back-to-back first-team all-league and 1,000-yard campaigns, returns as running back; And the Lobos have both starting corners back from their 2007 squad.

Fast Fact: New Mexico has won at least six games in each of the last seven seasons and gone to five bowl games in that stretch. But it hasn’t finished better than second in conference play during that time, and last season’s nine victories were its most in one season since Rocky Long took over as head coach before the 1998 campaign.

What Caught My Eye: The Lobos’ schedule. Yikes. New Mexico has arguably the toughest slate of any Mountain West Conference team this season, especially early.

The Lobos are the only team in the conference without a bye week (Air Force had that distinction last season) and the only team other than UNLV that will not play a Division I-AA squad.

(Note: in this blog, I heretofore am refusing to use the term “Football Championship Subdivision” – the new moniker for Division I-AA. Every time I write “Football Championship Subdivision” in the paper I have to write “Football Championship Subdivision – formerly Division I-AA,” because most people don’t know what the heck the “Football Championship Subdivision” is. So consider this my protest to this stupid name change. Back to the Lobos’ schedule.)

The Lobos open with conference heavyweight TCU on Aug. 30, then check out their September: Home games against Texas A&M and Arizona, followed by road games at Tulsa (which went 10-4 and beat BYU last season) and at in-state rival New Mexico State.

Greg Archuleta, the Albuquerque Journal’s excellent New Mexico football beat writer called the Lobos’ nonconference slate “one of the toughest” in Long’s 11 seasons.

Final Thought: New Mexico probably can extend its streak of seasons with at least six wins, but it will be tough, considering the schedule.

Jake's Way Early Line vs. AF: New Mexico -2.5.