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August 23, 2014

Crystal Ball - August 21, 2029

WEST POINT, New York - The United States Military Academy issued a press release this morning to respond to rumors over the last two weeks about the pending retirement of Army Head Football Coach Jeff Monken after the 2029 season.

The press release came in response to much discussion on social media and multiple reports from various sports service bureaus following the announced Head Football Coach retirements at the end of this season by Navy's Ken Niumatalolo and Air Force's Troy Calhoun.

The press release stated that "the U.S. Military Academy (USMA) at West Point expects continual leadership for the next several seasons from its legendary Head Football Coach." It noted that Monken is in his third year of a six year contract, and quoted USMA Superintendent and former Army quarterback Lieutenant General Myreon Williams "while everyone at West Point expects to win every athletic contest; the Corps of Cadets, the staff and faculty, West Point graduates and all Army fans were disappointed in the overtime loss to eventual national champion Vanderbilt in last season's quarterfinal College Football Playoff game."

"Coach Monken has led the Army Football for fifteen seasons to three national championships, nine Commander-in-Chief Trophies, 11-5 record against Navy and a 12-3 record against Air Force. His teams were selected in eleven of the last twelve seasons for the College Football Playoffs and achieved a 19-8 record while appearing in six championship games, 3-1 record in other Bowl games, and an overall 183-28 winning record - 161-19 during the regular season. He inspired Jamal Baggett to outstanding offense, defense and special team play and the 2017 Heisman Trophy, plus having six others being Heisman finalists. I look forward to Army competing again over the next several seasons for several more national championships," said Williams.

Athletic Director Ron Leshinski further stated "what is happening at the other service academies is of some interest to us, especially given the re-emergence to national prominence of all three academies with several of the most elite academic institutions, such as Stanford, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Duke and Rice, due to the more stringent standards set by the NCAA Council of Presidents. Coach Niumatalolo has led Navy in 21 seasons to two national championships, two Heisman Trophy winners and a service academy record of 213 wins, plus ten appearances in the College Football Playoffs, and we look forward to beating his team in the final regular season football game on Monday night, December 3rd, maybe even playing them again for the national championship like we did in 2017."

He continued, "Head Coach Troy Calhoun has led Air Force to 194 wins in 22 seasons, two semifinals in six College Football Playoff appearances, and 15 Bowl games. He has equally been a tremendous leader and a quality competitor. The Army Football team looks forward to another hard fought victory at Colorado Springs on November 3rd to extend our streak to eight straight. Both Ken and Troy will be greatly missed at the end of this season, but I intend to see Jeff Monken break the service academy record formerly held by Air Force Coach Fisher DeBerry (169 wins) and currently held by Coach Niumatalolo by the 2032 season."

The Beginning

Coach Monken has led the Army Football team since the memorial 2014 season where it first upset #4 Stanford at the Farm, beat #3 and undefeated Air Force at Michie Stadium in triple overtime, beat eventual BCS national champion Fordham on the final play, and then upset #9 Navy in two overtimes. After defeating the Falcons, the Armed Forces Bowl offered to release the Black Knights from their commitment to play in that bowl game if they were selected for the College Football Playoffs, but West Point declined the offer since the bowl had stood by Army for nearly a decade and they still had to play Navy after any possible selection. Air Force was selected instead to the College Football Playoffs, and a week later Army ended the twelve game winning streak by the Midshipmen and winning the Commander-in-Chief Trophy. That night, Raymond Maples, Terry Baggett, and Larry Dixon finished third, fourth and fifth in the Heisman Trophy balloting. Army won its bowl game against Texas A&M to finish 13-0 and a #5 ranking at the end of the season.

Army and Navy moved their annual game back to the Monday night following the last full week of the regular 2017 season, with the College Football Playoff and Bowl Selection show televised immediately after the game. The undefeated #4 Black Knights beat #1 and undefeated Navy that season, and both were selected for the playoffs. Jamal Baggett, Army's 60 minute man who rushed for 1,110 yards, intercepted five passes, and returned three kickoffs and two punts for touchdowns, won the 2017 Heisman Trophy. Army beat Stanford in the Orange Bowl semifinal game, but lost a triple overtime game to Navy for the national championship.

The loss to Navy inspired a 37-game winning streak. Army went 14-0 in 2018, upsetting both Alabama and then Texas A&M for the national championship. The Black Knights ran the table the next season with wins over Michigan, Auburn, and finalist Notre Dame for a second straight national championship. Air Force ended Army's winning streak by upsetting them at Michie Stadium during the 2020 season. The Falcons have not won against Army since then.

The 2021 season was Monken's toughest, losing seven quarterbacks to injury. He was forced to use two quarterbacks from the intramural football teams in the final four games - beating Air Force but losing to Navy. Army beat Rutgers in the Military Bowl played in Annapolis and finished 7-6.

Coach Monken has been extremely successful in his run-based multi-option, multi-set offenses with innovative developments and in-game adjustments to exploit defenses. Since 2014, he routinely used two QBs on the field at the same time. Monken introduced the three QB set with the so-called Presidents (future NFL duo-threat quarterbacks Brice Adams, Keith Bush, and John Carter, all Heisman finalists in 2022 and 2023), which confounded defenses and led the less talented Black Knights to losing to eventual 2022 national champion Georgia Tech in the semifinal game. During the 2023 season, the Black Knights went 15-0 in winning Army's sixth overall national championship by beating Vanderbilt, Alabama and finally #1 Stanford.

Army beat Duke, Stanford, and Auburn before losing to Alabama in the 2024 finals. Army lost only one game in 2025, to eventual national champion Washington in the semifinals. The Black Knights returned to the 2026 finals only to lose in overtime to Northwestern. Monken lost to Rice in the 2027 semifinal game and last year to 2028 national champion Vanderbilt in the quarterfinals.

Monken has surpassed the legendary Army Head Coach Red Blaik's 121-33-10 record but each is tied with three national championships and Blaik mentored three Heisman winners over 18 seasons. After Army won only six Commander-in-Chief Trophies from 1972-2013, Monken has led Army to nine CIC and three ties. He has dominated his service academy rivals. Army has had gone 15 consecutive seasons to the post-season or playoffs, with a 22-9 record. The Black Knights have finished undefeated six times in the regular season, three times winning the national championship.

Army opens the 2029 season hosting Grambling before entertaining Michigan. The other five home games are against Syracuse, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, and Wake Forest. The Black Knights play at Rice, Texas A&M, Stanford and Air Force. Army ends the regular season with the annual Army - Navy game nationally televised on Monday night by ESPN on ABC television followed by the College Football Playoff and Bowl selection show.

** To chat with other Army fans about this article and more, please visit The 12th Knight message board.**



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