Without victories, Navy remains submerged as third-rate program

The Inside Stuff

August 18, 1992|By Bill Tanton

It's time for Navy to put up or shut up.

Either the Naval Academy should correct whatever is wrong with its football program or it should admit it's third-rate and play that kind of schedule.

Navy won one game last year. It hasn't had a winning season in a decade.

That's not second-rate. Maryland has been second-rate. The Terps play all Division I-A teams and win a few. Navy plays a lot of people a grade lower -- I-AA -- and still can't win. That's third-rate.

And yet every year now it's the same thing at Annapolis. The Mids talk about how much bigger their players are compared to a year ago. They talk about how much faster they are. They talk about the promising plebes who've signed on.

And then they lose most of their games.

That's how the season started yesterday at Navy as the the media met with the '92 team and the people running the program. It's beginning to sound like a broken record. Every year, a lot of hype but no substance.

The players are stronger, said coach George Chaump. He praised his players for their work habits in the off-season -- as he also did last year.

The team will be better, Chaump said. He talked about the tough schedule, which really is a little tougher, and he said he thinks with the attitude his players are showing "we're going to get Navy back where it should be."

There was one new thing. The superintendent of the Naval Academy, Rear Admiral Thomas C. Lynch, admitted that since last season he and athletic director Jack Lengyel and coach Chaump have gone over "everything we do -- the recruiting, the training, nutrition."

Admiral Lynch is better equipped to conduct such a study than any academy superintendent in memory.

Tom Lynch was an All-America linebacker and team captain for Navy when Roger Staubach was its Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback and the team played Texas in the Cotton Bowl with the national championship at stake. The admiral is upbeat about this year's Navy team.

"I've never been as optimistic about a Navy team -- except my own as I am about this one," he said. "You'll see a much improved team. If we continue, Navy will be back where it's always been."

The admiral closed with a vote of confidence for the coach: "I assure you we have the right man in George Chaump."

Maybe so. Maybe Chaump, now in his third year, will see some pieces fall in place and Navy will win a few games. Certainly Chaump was successful at Marshall (33-16-1) and Indiana University of Pennsylvania. In two years at Navy, however, he's 6-16.

Now it's time to stop talking and start winning. This is not the last year of Chaump's contract, but he has to win soon or do what Elliott Uzelac and Gary Tranquill were forced to do in the '80s -- move on (Tranquill and Uzelac are now on Bill Belichick's staff with the Cleveland Browns.)

Put up or shut up. It has come down to that at Navy.

* As horrible as the Orioles looked being shelled, 15-2, in Kansas City Sunday, and as ominous as it looked in the ninth inning the night before when they gave up two runs and lost, 5-4, to the Royals, all is by no means lost.

The O's, as they open a home stand tonight against Seattle, are only three games out of first with 44 to play. And the club in first -- Toronto -- looks like anything but a team ready to run away with the AL East title. The Blue Jays, as Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove said publicly, aren't even playing with the intensity of the Orioles.

One advantage the O's will have over the visitors tonight and for the rest of the season is that, by now, they have a pretty good feel for Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Even though that shiny new park has its peculiarities.

Seattle, a last-place team, has played only three games at the Yards -- and those were 3 1/2 months ago, on May 1-3. The Mariners are also a poor road team (19-39).

The O's should be able to close some ground on Toronto starting today while the Jays go against a hungry Brewers team in Milwaukee.

* Rick Sutcliffe has won a dozen games for the O's and contributed in other less tangible ways to the club's success this year, but it looks bad to see him complain publicly about the

mound at Camden Yards.

All of a sudden, in mid-August, Sutcliffe says the mound here is probably the worst he has ever thrown on in the big leagues.

Maybe it is. Sutcliffe knows a bad mound from a good one. But if there's a problem, it should be handled internally. Tell Roland Hemond, who will then get groundskeeper Paul Zwaska to fix it -- under Sutcliffe's supervision, if necessary.

As the baseball season gets down to crounch time, you hate to see players begin to alibi.

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