Bobby Ross’ Army football team have accepted an invitation to December’s Poinsettia Bowl (conditional on their winning 6 games) and Newsday’s Mark Herrmann has a serious case of the G.I. Jerkoffs.
Players at West Point focus on this year, this game, this down, even though they know that once they finish school, they almost surely will serve in Iraq or Afghanistan.
That is part of the drill at West Point, where the training includes combat against insurgents. Those who enroll and stay at the U.S. Military Academy these days know they are headed into a war that doesn’t have easy answers, a public consensus behind it or a clear finish ahead. Still, they sign up.
That is why the Poinsettia Bowl called. The Cadets were invited because they would be a good draw; they would be a good draw because the country likes them.
Make no mistake, many of us have big questions about the war. We are weary and wary of it, saddened by it. But the nation has a certain feeling about the kids who are willing to go.
This isn’t like the 1960s (when Bob Knight was coaching basketball and Bill Parcells was coaching linebackers at the Point), when anything military-related was controversial at best. In 2006, Army has received a bowl bid not because of what it has done but because of who it is.
“Coach Ross (above) and I go around the country and we see it,” said athletic director Kevin Anderson, who has worked at Stanford, California and Oregon State. “We believe we are really America’s Team. I don’t think even Air Force or Navy get the kind of feeling and support we do. The only other team that does is Notre Dame. The kids sell this program. I’ve been at great schools and been around great students, but I’ve never been around kids like we have here.”
It’s touching to see Long Island’s daily providing so much public relations support for Bobby Ross, he of the $600,000 salary and the $15 million practice facilities. And I’m sure in the weeks to come, Herrmann will write several columns about the sacrifices made and hardship endured by the military’s rank and file who didn’t have the benefit of West Point entry. Who knows, space permitting, maybe even a thought or two for the persons they’ve killed, accidently or on purpose?