Sunday, November 11, 2007


So how does this sound: An Air Force Mountain West Conference Trifecta.

Troy Calhoun, MWC Coach of the Year.

Chad Hall, MWC Offensive Player of the Year.

John Rabold, MWC Defensive Player of the Year.

Let’s break them down one by one, from most likely to least likely.

He's just about locked it up with the most impressive stretch of offensive performances in academy history. In the last seven weeks he’s averaged 244.9 all-purpose yards per game, rushed for 1,135 yards and scored 12 touchdowns.

He leads the conference in rushing yards per game (114.9) and all-purpose yards per game (203.0). He ranks ninth in receptions per game (3.91), third in punt return average (12.3) and ninth in kickoff return average (23.6).

No single player is more important to any team in the Mountain West Conference than Hall is to Air Force. It should be a lock.

Toughest Competition: I think the New Mexico skilled position players (quarterback Donovan Porterie, receivers Marcus Smith and Travis Brown and running back Rodney Ferguson) all are candidates, but they’ll probably take votes from each other. So Hall’s biggest competition is his namesake – BYU’s Max Hall, who has averaged 310 yards passing in nine games. But that might say as much about the BYU offense as it does about Hall.

If Air Force wins Saturday, he’s got a great case. The Falcons will be 9-3 and 6-2 in the league (which will be – at worst – tied for second). That’s a five-game turnaround. And Calhoun’s done it without an influx of talent.

Think about it: Inside linebacker Aaron Shanor is back after sitting out last year to boost his grades. And freshmen Reggie Rembert, Savier Stephens and Andre Morris all have played some. But none of the members of the Class of 2011 has made a huge impact. And, of course, there have been no impact transfers.

In fact, the argument can be made that Air Force lost more talent in the seniors that graduated from last year’s team than it added in freshmen.

It’s a point that most of the folks at Air Force won’t make out loud because it can be interpreted as a swipe at former coach Fisher DeBerry. But it cannot be ignored. Calhoun has taken a team that won four games last season and has doubled that total with one game to play.

His assistants deserve a lot of the credit, but assistants usually get a piece of head coaches’ coach of the year awards.

Toughest competition: Utah’s Kyle Whittingham. The Utes have won six straight to improve to 7-3. He kept his team from quitting despite a 1-3 start and a slew of injuries – most notably to standout quarterback Brian Johnson. Right now, Utah might be playing better than any team in the conference (see the Utes’ 50-0 drubbing of Wyoming yesterday). If Utah can knock off BYU, Whittingham might be the choice. Then again, if BYU goes unbeaten and wins a second straight crown, Bronco Mendenhall would be a natural choice too.

One could argue that inside linebacker Drew Fowler, strong safety Chris Thomas and cornerback Carson Bird are playing just as big a role for the Falcons.

But you can’t argue with Rabold’s stats. He’s made 70 tackles, including 15.5 for losses, forced three fumbles and recovered three – including one he took for a touchdown against Notre Dame.

He’s been a bit unsung this year, which could hurt him in voting, but for all-around defensive performance, few if any have been better than Rabold.

Toughest Competition: Defense is always harder to read. UNLV’s Beau Bell, the conference’s leading tackler, BYU’s Jan Jorgensen and TCU’s Chase Ortiz all probably will be in the mix.


Anonymous said...

Wow...I never thought of a trifecta, but I think you make a pretty good case. We need BYU to lose 2 for that to happen.

Wittingham disqualfied himself for COY with his onside kick vs Wyoming.

jake.schaller said...

BYU could lose two more. The Cougars have to play at Wyoming and then face rival Utah.

And I think you're right -- the onsides kick/middle finger fiasco might hurt Whittingham.

Anonymous said...

Disappointed by your other "story" questioning whether Calhoun had heard from other programs for his services -- if he said no, let it rest, no reason to make it drama when it isn't -- have loved all your other work but that one left me puzzled what your goals were

Anonymous said...

Jakes Job is to sell newspapers. Creating drama sells newspapers.

jake.schaller said...

Guys -

Thanks for the comments. I don't think I was "creating drama" with the story about Calhoun's future. Any time a coach has the success he's had, other schools and teams inevitably are going to come calling.
And if Troy had answered the first question with, "I'll be back next year, no question," then I might have written the story differently. But he didn't. And to be honest, his initial responses to the line of questioning reminded me a bit of the responses Jeff Bzdelik gave me when I'd ask him ad naseum about Colorado. I was accused of "creating drama" back then too. And we know how that turned out.
Now, do I think Calhoun will leave after this year? No. I think he'll be around at least five to six years. I think the program will experience a bit of a dip the next two years (relative to this year), but that when Calhoun and his staff get a few recruiting classes in, Air Force again will be a juggernaut.
But a coach that has that kind of success -- especially one who is as sharp, talented and driven as Calhoun -- is going to get a lot of interest from college and the pros. That's the reality. And that's a story.

Stats Dr said...


I still luv ya! I think a better question is whether DeRuyter is happy to stay as defensive coordinator or if he is interested in being a head coach. He really turned around the defense.

One BB question regarding today's (15 NOV) articles: Milo (my least favorite sportswriter) wrote that AF beat Western State by 50 last year. What is he talking about? I don't remember that, and don't see it on the last year's results. We did play them 2 years ago and won by 22. That year's team went 24-7. Can you do some fact checking or ask him what he was talking about?


jake.schaller said...


As for DeRuyter, I think his next move is to a head job. Not sure if he'd leave AF to take another DC gig. But with the wonders he's worked with this defense, I wouldn't be surprised if he gets some looks.

As for Milo, he was saying that last year's AF team would have whacked W. State by 50, if the teams had played.