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November 29, 2012
Army's 1984 team secured place in West Point history
We all know Army football entered the season with high expectations and that a 2-9 record to date falls far short, but there is still time for the 2012 team to be remembered with reverence.
One last victory this season when the Black Knights play Navy (7-4) in the 113th Army-Navy game on Dec. 8 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia will identify Army as much more than a 3-9 club.
For confirmation, the players can ask the father of one of their teammates, starting right tackle Michael "Momo" Kime. Bill Kime played right tackle on the 1984 Army team that finished 8-3-1, including a win over Navy at Philadelphia's now demolished Veteran's Stadium.
"I still get asked 30 years later, 'How'd you do against Navy?' said Kime.
Note: The question isn't, what was your record? It's, how'd you do against Navy?
But on top of that, the 2012 Black Knights can match Army's 1984 success in another category extremely important to service academy football: they can win the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. Army and Navy both beat Air Force earlier in the year, making this the first time since 2005 that the Army-Navy game is winner-take-all for the CIC Trophy.
"That would be enormous to win the CIC," Kime said. "They've had great games against Air Force and Boston College and then they've slid back to what they've been the last couple of years. But the Air Force win was a signature win. To cap the season off with a win over Navy and to bring home the CIC, that is something those guys can hang their hats on and puff out their chests."
"And by doing that, they can set up next year's team with the right momentum and trajectory to continue for more success next year. This game is special for these kids. I know the underclassmen really want to send out the seniors with a win."
Michael Kime will miss the game, though, with a knee injury suffered against Temple that requires reconstructive surgery. The 6-2, 243-pound junior started all 11 games this season before going down.
"Playing right tackle and wearing No. 78 isn't the only thing we share in common now," said Bill, noting he had three knee operations at West Point. "But they tell me they have plenty of practice (with surgeries) at West Point and he'll be ready to go next year. I'm heartbroken he can't play against Navy and so is he."
Kime hopes his son and teammates are in position to accomplish the type of season that the 1984 club enjoyed. He notes Army's 1984 success followed a 2-9 record in 1983, which was the Black Knights' first season under head coach Jim Young in what turned out to be a successful eight-year tenure. Young, who posted a 51-39-1 career record and led Army to its first four bowl games, was inducted into the Army Hall of Fame in September.
"When he came back for the Hall of Fame, I thanked him for the lessons in life I learned from him," Kime said. "Unfortunately, some of them I didn't (fully) learn until about four years after he taught them. But that was the kind of impression he made on the 1984 team."
Two other reasons Army's 1984 team that was led by Doug Black, Nate Sassaman and Jarvis Hollingsworth has a revered place in Army history is the Black Nights' won the 1984 Cherry Bowl -- the first time Army accepted a bowl invitation in its long history -- as well as the Mirage Bowl, a now regular-season bowl-like game that was played annually from 1977 to 1993 between American teams in Japan.
Army beat Michigan State in the Cherry Bowl in the Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich., and defeated a Montana in the Mirage Bowl in Tokyo's Olympic Stadium. Montana's quarterback was Marty Mornhinweg, who went on to become the Detroit Lions head coach (2001-02) and is now the Philadelphia Eagles' offensive coordinator.
The Mirage Bowl lined up Army's wishbone against Montana's wide-open passing offense.
"They had the stadium divided one half for Army and one half for Montana, but the Japanese thought the passing was much more entertaining," Kime said. "The wishbone is a beautiful thing for football fans who know what's going on. But for the casual fan, slinging the ball is more entertaining."
In addition to defeating Air Force 24-12 to improve to 5-2-1, the 1984 team's three significant wins were back-to-back-to-back: Nov. 16, Montana 45-31; Dec. 1, Navy 28-11; and Dec. 22, Michigan State 10-6. Not a bad way to finish the season that Kime says was sparked by a 24-24 tie at Tennessee's venerable Neyland Stadium after a season-opening 41-15 victory over Colgate.
"We came into that season with a chip on our shoulder," Kime said. "That game proved we could play with anybody out there. That game put us on the map and the Cherry Bowl culminated our season."
Kime's only regret was he missed the chance to join his teammates at the White House reception in the Rose Garden when President Reagan presented the CIC Trophy. Due to Kime's knee surgeries, he missed a semester and was thus a December graduate. So after the Cherry Bowl his teammates returned to West Point while he reported for duty as a second lieutenant.
Army assistant equipment manager Richard Hall made sure Kime understood he was playing the Cherry Bowl as a U.S. Army officer.
"I had a one-man graduation in the Hilton Hotel in Pontiac the night before the game, and then Dicky Hall painted a gold bar on the black stripe (on the helmet)," Kime said. "I was a second lieutenant. Dicky Hall is still at West Point and he's one of the nicest guys in the world."
Second-lieutenant Kime and the remaining Cadets then took the field as the Black Knights secured their place in Army football history by beating a Big Ten school the next night in the Cherry Bowl.
"It's special to have been part of that team," Kime said. "Other than the truly great Army teams that were national champions, people still hold us up as one of Army's great teams. I sit up in the stands (at Michie Stadium) and look through the game program and see all the names from our team in the record book. That's special. Those guys were my buddies."