Annapolis grad: Navy should drop out of top-level football

A packed crowd settles in for Army-Navy football in 2010 in Philadelphia. Would the game pack the same punch with one or both teams in a lower-tier division? (Staff photo by Rob Curtis)

The blog CDR Salamander  includes posts about a wide range of naval topics — strategy, shipbuilding, diversity, fleet training, budgets and even new Japanese flattops that aren’t carriers. At all.

But one of the blog’s most popular recent posts, at least judging by the 200-plus comments it has received in less than a week, is by an unnamed “recent graduate of the United States Naval Academy” who gets to his point fairly fast:

“Division I football has its place in big state-schools, but amongst the comparatively small service academies it is a parasite that takes away admissions from more deserving candidates, has a harmful effect on morale for the student bodies, and is disastrous for the public image of these otherwise remarkable institutions.”

The post is worth a read regardless of whether the sentence above makes you applaud or punch the monitor. And while the statistics this officer uses to support his contentions — grade-point averages and other academic benchmarks related to football players — haven’t been verified by After Action, his points about public-image problems related to the Annapolis football program are tough to dispute.

Multiple Salamander commenters have taken issue, often at length, with parts of the blog post or the proposal, saying misbehaving midshipmen aren’t only found on the football field, or that the team serves a critical role in funding other athletic programs, or that players learn more about leadership from playing top-tier football than can be adequately represented in test scores. Other commenters shared stories of off-field favoritism bestowed upon players and agree with the author that the program is a drain on school resources.

It’s unlikely the proposal will get much traction at a school that’s in the midst of stadium expansion and will host a bowl game in December. But we still want to hear your thoughts: Would a Football Championship Subdivision (the artists formerly known as Division I-AA) version of service academy football be better or worse for the schools, players and/or fans? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below.