Army athletic director Boo Corrigan spoke with the Times Herald-Record Thursday on the state of the academy’s football program.
Topics included coach Rich Ellerson’s job security, what will it take to turn the program, this season’s injury bug and scheduling.
Q: How do you feel about the team with two games left? Has it been a little disappointing this season?
BC: “Have we won as many games as we wanted to? No, we have not. If you look at it, we are disappointed with the results of the team. But, we are always proud of our cadets. We’ve done better with penalties. We’ve done better with turnovers. But the ability to validate all of that on the scoreboard has been disappointing. Yes.”
Q: What is the determining factor in validating the scoreboard
BC: “What do you say, it’s never one play. In any particular game, it’s never one play. To say exactly what it is, I don’t know. There’s a number of different things that occur during a course of a game that we have not been able to figure out a way to come out on top and validate all the good things that we are doing.”
Q: In the past, you’ve said coach Ellerson is your guy. What is your thinking now with two games left in the season? What kind of job do you think coach Ellerson has done this year?
BC: “I think we are going to do the same thing that we have done the last couple of years. We are going to look at the program as a whole, make an evaluation of the program as a whole and move on from that point. He’s still my guy. He’s still my guy. As part of that, we are going to do like we did after my first year and do like we did after my second year and we’ll do it again this year. Last year, we met two days (after the Army-Navy game) going over the season. It’s not weeks after anything. What we are talking about fits the mold of what we have done in the past.”
Q: What do you want to see from the team in the last two games?
BC: “I want to see us win. I want to see the same thing I wanted to see for the last 10 games. The reason why is the young men in our program are doing everything they can to get ourselves in that position to win games. That’s always what the goal is. We know they are good young men, right? We know they are working hard. We know what they are doing in the classroom. We know they are doing it militarily and that they believe in West Point and all of the goodness of West Point. But, again, it’s that piece of validation on Saturday. That’s what we have to do. We all came here to win and do it all the right way. That has not wavered since the minute I got here.”
Q: Does beating Navy have to be part of the equation for coach Ellerson to come back?
BC: “We are going to sit down and evaluate the program like we did the last two years. It’s no different than the way we have handled ourselves since we’ve been here.”
Q: Will the bye week help in the last games considering the team has been beat up (by injuries) this season?
BC: “We’ve had some really key injuries this year. Absolutely. Not only in quality players but quality leaders and while you can lead from the sideline or lead in keeping people engaged in and involved in what’s going on, it’s a whole lot better when you are out on the field with them. That’s one of the things that we really have to figure out. How do we get to that point?”
Q: Is there something with the strength and conditioning program that has caused these injuries or is it just a fluke?
BC: “Funny thing is a couple of years ago it was shoulders, then we had a couple of achilles (heel) last year and this year it’s a dislocated bone in your wrist. I don’t know how to describe what it is. But you do know that injuries are a part of the whole thing. I know our practices have been more physical and that side of it. But that’s not the reason for the injuries. Julian Holloway breaks his leg the way he did, I don’t know if they was a result of strength and conditioning or anything that we didn’t do. It’s kind of the game of football and how it goes sometimes.”
Q: Would winning games cure most of the program’s problems?
BC: “Winning is contagiuous. It abolsutely does. At this point you look at it and we have four players for regional academic all-American. We are doing good things. We are doing the right things. we just have to find a way to win on the field. What coach Ellerson and I have talked about the whole time is validating on the scoreboard. We feel good about what’s going on around the program. Now, we have to validate on the scoreboard.”
Q: Some say it’s not so such much a football problem with the program. It’s a West Point program with admissions, training and requirements. What’s your response to that?
BC: “I try to stay in my lane as it relates to it. But we are looking at everything. You look at some of the things that we have done in moving the practicing to the mornings. That was a big change for West Point to allow something like that. Can you always look to do something better? Do I believe that playing football and playing Division I athletics has a lot to do with great leadership opportunities for the young men and young women who are involved in our program? Absolutely, I do. I believe in that but I believe in West Point and what West Point stands for. As we look at what is it, Rich and I will look all aspects of the program. I’ll talk with Col. Ed Naessens, the officer representative, and make sure I am asking him all the right questions and sit down with Gen. Caslen (West Point’s superintendent) and ultimately be able to talk to him about what we’ve done, how we’ve done it and where we can go from here.”
Q: Can you compare an Army football player to a Navy or Air Force player? Do Army football players have it tougher than Air Force and Navy players?
BC: “I don’t know the answer to that question. I worry about what we are doing. I think it’s really important to do whatever we can to maximize ours and do what we believe is in the best interest of West Point. Whatever they do is what they do. We just have to make sure whatever we are doing here, if it’s for West Point, it is in the best interest of West Point and the athletic program and the football program and the leadership development program and everything else here.”
Q: What was the most frustrating loss for you this year?
BC: “I think going out to Air Force because I believe so deeply in the guys on our team. I was out at practice that week and they were able to some guys back on the field that haven’t been on the field and I just believe so deeply in them. It wasn’t like this is our year. It was like this is our time and this is their time. This is our players’ time to go out there and win and for that, it’s ever disappointing.”
Q: There’s strong senior class here that may not have Heisman Trophy winners or all-Americans. But, these guys have together and built a solid foundation in team unity for the younger players to follow. Do you see that?
BC: “You look at it and you look at Thomas Holloway and you look at Momo Kime and you look at some of the other seniors but you look at Chris Carnegie and you look at Mike Ugenyi and you look at those guys, I’d be thrilled if any of my kids grow up and ended up like them. What they do and what they represent, you just hurt for them and what they are doing and what you want their legacy to do. And Angel, guys from all over the place. I just wanted to see them succeed so badly.”
Q: Is the 2014 schedule complete?
BC: “Yeah. That was where we were able to move and how things were going to get done was ‘14 is kind of the last one that we couldn’t affect to a dramatic percent. There were a lot of things in there that we tried to move and couldn’t move. We are out from playing Miami (Ohio) and Ball State and some of them in some out years. But, West Point is West Point and we didn’t want to start writing some checks to people and doing some things to move games. It seemed a little bit out of character for what West Point is.”
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