posted on November 05, 2007 05:50
This isn't precisely news any more. I doubt there is a single person left on the planet with any tie at all to football, leprechauns, or the U.S. Navy who isn't aware that the Naval Academy's Midshipmen beat the Fighting Irish 46-44 in triple overtime on Saturday, ending a losing streak that stretched 44 years back to Roger Staubach's senior year as a Midshipman.
Seriously... who cares if the Irish have been having the worst season in their storied history? I haven't written about this yet because my inbox has been choked with newspaper articles from every corner of the globe, and only this evening was I able to lift a quote that really captured the magnitude of the accomplishment.
From Mark Schlabach at ESPN.com:
The Fighting Irish are supposed to be bigger, faster and stronger than the Midshipmen. Each of Notre Dame's five starting offensive linemen weighs more than 300 pounds. Navy doesn't have a 300-pounder starting on offense or defense. In fact, Irish offensive tackle Sam Young, a 6-foot-8, 310-pound sophomore, often blocked end Michael Walsh, a 239-pound junior.
Get it? When Navy takes the field against Notre Dame, it literally looks like grown men playing football against little kids. David and Goliath. It's the most brutal game on Navy's schedule... I don't know the injury stats, but I'd be shocked if the annual Notre Dame game didn't account for way more than its share of injuries to the Navy side.
You know what I think?
The Naval Academy's football program is unusual in that it probably accepts more walk-ons than any other major program. As a result, you get an unusually high number of former enlisted guys who may have played ball in high school and walk on the team when they arrive at Annapolis. Again, I don't KNOW this—it's just a theory—but I'd be shocked if a head count wouldn't reveal more combat veterans on this year's Navy team than on ANY college football team in at least a generation.
I'm not talking about the quarterback, or even the starting line. But it's amazing what kind of effect a couple of combat vets can have on the men who surround them. And NCAA football is about as close to combat as most people EVER get.