Brock faces task of trying to reverse Army’s fortunes
BALTIMORE » In taking the Army head coaching job, Stan Brock said all the right things.
Duty, honor, country, the academy and responsibility.
Preparing for Navy this week (Saturday, 7 a.m. KGMB), Brock reinitiated these essential ideas of West Point.
He went out of his way to accentuate the virtues of valor, friendship, commitment and service. Reporting for work on Day 1, Brock emphasized the football side of hiring a staff, constructing a recruiting plan and addressing logistical issues associated with taking over a program.
Nowhere in this discussion was the recent history of Army football discussed, nor the true challenges of bringing this proud program back to life.
Over the past decade, Army football has been on life support, and Brock either conveniently avoided the true challenges of this program, or chose to ignore the reality.
"I believe in this place," Brock simply said. "The academy is bigger than any university and this is a special place. You cannot say 'no' when a three-star general (Lt. General Franklin L. Hagenbeck, West Point superintendent) asks you to take the team. I love the challenge."
The reality is that Army is facing another dismal season. Coming into the Navy game, the Black Knights (3-8) have lost six in a row.
Army has won just 15 games in the past seven years, and has not defeated Navy since a 26-17 victory in 2000.
When Brock and West Point officials think of Army football, it's usually back in the glory days of the mid-1940s. Mainly on the efforts of Glenn Davis and Felix "Doc" Blanchard, Army won consecutive national championships. Blanchard won the Heisman in 1945, and Davis took home the award the following year.
Like Navy and Air Force, Army faces myriad competitive roadblocks, especially in recruiting. The academies do not redshirt, and recruiting athletes known for athletic contributions remains at a minimum.
While Navy and Air Force have enjoyed recent success, Army continues at an underachieving level. Now a football independent, the Black Knights left a competitive Conference USA a few years ago in hopes of attracting attractive opponents and desirable recruits.
Brock comes from the offensive side of the ball and gained fame as a Pro Bowl tackle with the Saints and Changers. His coach in San Diego was Bobby Ross, who took the Army job at the start of the 2004 season. Ross then brought Brock along as the Black Knights' offensive line coach, and Brock succeeded Ross this past January.
This may explain the lopsided nature of a key statistic.
While Brock may be considered offense-minded, the Black Knights' defense mirrors recent struggles. For 2007, the team has allowed 326 points in 11 games. That averages out to 29.6 points per game and an average 425.3 yards of opponents' offense.
Earlier this week, Brock touched on a few possible tweaks for the offense, but did not mention the defense. Rather, he explained the Black Knights, collectively, had several recent good practices and appear emotionally ready for the Navy game.
"Right now, I'm trying to keep a cap on their energy level," Brock said. "They know it's Navy and for the seniors, they also know this is their last week on a football field. We certainly do not overstate the impact of this game worldwide."