Air Force adds to stadium pageantry

Game returns home for rededication

record crowd likely

Navy Notebook

October 05, 2005|By KENT BAKER | KENT BAKER,SUN REPORTER

It's going to be an event to remember.

After hosting Air Force at FedEx Field in Landover three straight times, Navy officials decided to shift the game to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis this year, and a record crowd is expected Saturday to watch the rededication of the refurbished facility.

"I made this decision about two years ago," said Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk. "With the renovations and pageantry that come with a game of this magnitude, I thought it was important to play it at home. There is more money to be made down the street [at FedEx], but money isn't everything. We were thinking about what is best for the program. Hopefully, it'll give us home-field advantage."

More than 37,000 tickets have been sold for a stadium with a listed capacity of 34,000. The target is the record 36,172 that attended the last time (1997) these two met in Annapolis.

Festivities scheduled include a combined Air Force-Navy march-on, a 21-gun salute and taps for those in service who have lost their lives. Also planned are a joint Navy-Marine Corps missing man fly-by, proclamations by the Chief of Naval Operations and Commandant of the Marine Corps, a recognition of veterans of wars/conflicts on the stadium facade, and a video tribute and recognition of the team that played in the 1961 Orange Bowl, the first to play at the facility and be invited to a bowl.

"This has been a three-year project, and this is the grand unveiling," Gladchuk said. "The Air Force game is the perfect opportunity to showcase it."

Air Force QB cautious

Air Force quarterback Shaun Carney has deftly avoided any bulletin-board fodder again.

Last season, one version of the pre-game buildup had Carney saying he chose the Falcons because Navy couldn't beat them, ruffling some feathers in Annapolis.

In an interview earlier this week, Carney, who also considered attending Navy, said: "I don't want to talk about that. I just want to talk about the Air Force Falcons."

The closest the sophomore came to harsh words was when he said: "They [the Mids] have the trophy, and we want it back. It's always been at our place. It's never hard to get us up to play Navy. They're going to wake you up a little bit. The trophy is what's brought about animosity and inspired bad words between the two teams."

He was referring to the Commander in Chief's Trophy, which is awarded to the winner of competition among the three major service academies and named in honor of the nation's president.

"If we want to win it, we've got to beat both teams [Navy and Army]," Carney said.

Air Force dominated the series for two decades, winning the trophy 16 times. Army took the other four. Until two years ago, Navy had not claimed it since 1981.

Feinstein fallout

Gladchuk said the academy is not contemplating any action against radio commentator and author John Feinstein, who used an expletive directed at the officials during the airing of Saturday's 28-21 Navy win at Duke.

Feinstein went off the air, offered to resign immediately and then was contrite about the incident, which occurred after Duke receiver Eron Riley caught a two-point conversion pass to tie the game at 21. On the play, Riley appeared to push Navy cornerback Jeremy McGown out of the way.

"What happened was unfortunate. It was a mistake," Gladchuk said. "But he was very remorseful, and nothing about it was premeditated, nor did he mean to be disrespectful to anyone. ... I haven't received a single correspondence about it. John is more upset than anyone about it."

kent.baker@baltsun.com

Air Force@Navy Saturday, 1:30 p.m., 1090 AM Line: Navy by 1 1/2

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