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
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.