PHILADELPHIA – After succumbing meekly to another Navy blitzkrieg and suffering its seventh consecutive defeat to the hated Middies on Saturday afternoon, Army has announced that it has agreed to a 12-month timetable for withdrawing from the venerable service academy rivalry.
Army, which has lost the last seven outings by an average of 29 points and looked as hopeless as ever in Philadelphia on Saturday, says it will pull out of the series after the 110th and final edition is played Dec. 12, 2009, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
A blue-ribbon panel of current and former Army generals commissioned by the U.S. Military Academy, including Norman Schwarzkopf, Colin Powell and David Petraeus, concluded that the only dignified exit for the beleaguered Army team is to cease operations in the rivalry that dates to 1890.
“I know I’ve been an outspoken critic of premature withdrawal in the past,” Petraeus said late Saturday. “But when we assessed the situation and the mounting losses we’ve incurred, we came to one inescapable conclusion. Pouring more manpower and money into an ever-growing black hole is just … counterproductive. We’ve been caught in are a lot of storm clouds out there, and we don’t want to get hit by a lightning bolt.”
Thus will end the nation’s most treasured college football rivalry, which began with a 24-0 Cadets victory in West Point way back back in the 19th century. The series has produced enduring legends like Army’s Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis, aka Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside, and Navy’s Roger Staubach.
Navy’s seven-game win streak marks the most lopsided period in the storied rivalry. The margin of victory has been in double-digits every time, with the closest being Army’s 26-14 loss in 2006. Army fashioned an 8-0-2 run between 1922 and 1933, but those games were much more competitive, with the Black Knights’ average margin of victory being 8.8 points.
The 74-year-old Schwarzkopf said he was “heartbroken” to see the demise of the Army-Navy Game, but that there was little else that could be done.
“Did you see the way they kicked our tails all over the field today?” said Schwarzkopf, who led U.S. forces in the first Gulf War. “It was (bleeping) pathetic. Running the ball up the middle when we’re down three touchdowns in the fourth(-bleeping) quarter? It’s (bleeper-bleeping) heartbreaking. Seeing those (bleeper-bleeping) Bluejackets own our asses, makes an old soldier want to break down and cry.”
With Navy’s 34-0 whitewashing Saturday, the first shutout in the game since 1978, the Midshipmen lead the series 53 wins to 49. There have been seven ties.