Army Coach Rich Ellerson Gets the Boot



No one connected to the Black Knights football program seriously expects Army to compete with Florida State, Auburn or even Notre Dame, but a coach that can’t beat Navy isn’t going to be welcome in West Point.

Army dismissed Coach Rich Ellerson after the team ended a 3-9 season this past Saturday with a 34-7 loss to Navy in Philadelphia. That made Ellerson 0-5 against the Midshipmen and extended the Black Knights’ losing streak in the series to twelve game. The last time Army won was the 2001 game played as America tried to recover after 9/11.

College football coaches get fired all the time and Ellerson isn’t the first guy to lose his job because he failed to win his school’s rivalry game, but few coaches get axed with the kind of brutal letter that West Point commander Robert Caslen issued yesterday. Check out the entire letter below.

From the desk of the Superintendent:

15 December 2013

To our West Point Graduates:

I share with you the disappointment of the Army Football Team’s continued losses to Navy – the 12th in a row occurring last Saturday, 14 December, in Philadelphia. The players had worked too hard, the Corps had laid it all out all year in support, our graduates were watching with great anticipation, and our Soldiers across the globe expected a different outcome. But they did not get it this year. They deserve better and you deserve better. I accept full responsibility to get us moving immediately in that direction.

At West Point, we continue to attract the right young men and women from across America to develop the world’s best leaders on and off the field. We must surround our cadets with staff, faculty and coaches who will develop them and toughen them for the world we know they’ll face when they graduate. They must connect, challenge, and inspire them, or we will cause harm beyond the playing field.

To that end, our Athletic Director Boo Corrigan and I have decided to terminate our football coach, Rich Ellerson’s contract, and to immediately begin a search for the coach who will provide the leadership that will quickly build a winning program here at Army. In preparation for a possible move, we have and will continue to consult with former coaches and players who participated in winning programs, and have also carefully reviewed the input of many graduates whose recommendations and observations have been appreciated. Substantive work has already begun on a comprehensive, national basis to identify a pool of very impressive candidates.

Leadership must come from the Institution, the coach, and the players. We are also reviewing previous football studies and looking at institutional changes that are necessary to support winning programs, but fully integrated with our intellectual, military, physical and character developmental programs.

Thank you for your continued support of West Point. When America puts its sons and daughters in harm’s way, they do not expect us to just “do our best”… but to win. Nothing short of victory is acceptable. That fundamental ethos is at the heart of this Academy. It must be ingrained in every one of our athletic programs. Our core values are Duty, Honor, Country. Winning makes them real.

Go Army – Beat Navy!

Robert L. Caslen, Jr.

LTG, U.S. Army

59th Superintendent

Navy has pretty much the same recruiting restrictions and they manage to win a few big games every year and even play in a few bowl games, so Army ought to be able to figure out a way to field a respectable team sometime soon.

  • moronotopia

    What an ass. Revealing himself to be utterly lacking in leadership acumen.

    • MacArthur was right

      Why, because everyone deserves a trophy? Go back to T-ball.

  • IronV

    Show me the statistical link between firing and hiring coaches and success on the field. It figures some people would try to reduce this to some dumbass macho contest… But being a macho idiot is not being a leader. Demeaning people–especially those who worked their asses off doing their best–is the sure sign of a dumbass. And I love the general’s lunk-head bureaucrat speak, “We’re gonna study what makes a winning football team…” Yeah. Nobody’s ever done that before. I’m sure it will work out well.

  • moondawg

    I would guess the Superintendent has lost confidence in his ability to coach a winning team, after having been given good material to build upon.

    • Bob_IT

      this pic at top is Gene McKeehan the Associate Head Coach/Offensive Guards/Centers.

  • John

    It appears the “Blame Game” has infected yet another Government Institution.

  • Darren M

    why do we blame the coaches for the talent they dont get to play football. these men who come to play at Army, Navy or Airforce dont come to get ackaldes for football. they come to learn to to command. This is not Michigan or Florida. leave the coaches alone. if you think this season was bad, try hiring another coach and teacing all the asst coaches new plays along with players.

  • 1sgret

    we all know these cadets are at West Point because of their academics not their athletic skills, i believe it is a requirement that every cadet is in a extra curricular activity or sport as a part of team building and Esprit de corp. maybe they should recruit from with in and consider this a position for one of their senior ranking officers that participated in the program as a replacement.

    • Mike Hamilton, MSgt, USAF

      I like your suggestion. After all, this is a MILITARY ACADEMY. Not a football factory. I believe the General was totally WRONG in the way he approached this. If the program was such a failure in his eyes, Why doesn’t he fire EVERYONE involved, not just the Coach. Hell, He should step down himself seeing as he probably had a hand in the Coache’s hiring.

      • Phil


  • moondawg

    Rumor has it that the Navy does recruit midshipman on the ability to play football. But than Navy officers have not been fighting two ground wars for the past twelve years.

    • R.B.

      Naval Academy provides graduates to both the Navy & Marine Corps. We (Navy dept) have indeed been fighting a ground war right along with our Army brethren. Just look at the Service Selections to see how many Navy graduates go to Marine Corps ground.

  • Steinslinger

    When Coach Ellerson was here at Cal Poly, he ran a pretty good program. No doubt there is some disparity with the talent available to the Army. However, 12 in a row, with Coach Ellerson losing five in a row needs to be addressed.

  • Darrel Ervin

    With all due respect, General, very poor showing of leadership skills publicly addressing your discontent with one of your subordinates. First rule of command, never dress your officers down in front of the troops. I’m afraid the cadets learned more about how not to lead with this bonner! LTC Ervin, Army Ret.

  • SFC

    Way to show leadership to all of your future officers by slandering your current coach. Awesome tact. On, my mistake I guess they only teach tact to NCO’s.

    Go Army, Beat Navy.

  • Vitsing

    Maybe the Athletic Director and Superintendent should resign! After-all they are the ones Responsible and Accountable for the performance of their Subordinates.

  • fran

    Want to start winning at West Point get some big linemen that can actually block (after their four years give them 2 years to make the Army weight standards after they are finished playing). By doing this you can then stop running that inefficient and ineffective offense that obviously does not work!! You could actually get a passing game going and the one dimensional easy to defend offense will not be a problem.

  • Rsul

    Praise in public; punish in private.