Legendary football coach John Heisman once said ""Gentlemen, it is better to have died as a small boy than to fumble this football."
The following is the last of six parts that propose some approaches that could be taken to improve the competitiveness of Army Football. Each can be implemented independently or together with all or some of the other approaches. Almost everything that can be done is within the decision making power of the USMA Superintendent.
This addresses the need to refocus the United States Military Academy Preparatory School (USMAPS) on its mission to prepare individuals for admission to USMA.
I am so glad that USMAPS has been relocated from Fort Monmouth to West Point. This dumb idea was fully implemented many years ago by USAFA, and it enables USMAPS to become more fully integrated into USMA. So often in the past, distance from the Plain led to USMAPS being forgotten by the USMA administration.
Now the central and never ending purpose of USMAPS is to prepare individuals for admission to USMA. Each year, there are several hundred who have the desire to become cadets, but need a little bit extra help to meet the high USMA admission standards. Most of that today involves needing a solid secondary education in math and English that some high schools do not offer.
So what does this have to do with the Army Football team?
Recent head coaches have sent individuals to spend a year at USMAPS; essentially as a redshirt year to develop them physically and to have them participate on a football team running the same offensive and defensive schemes. This has been fairly successful, and the first string teams have been dominated with USMAPS graduates.
However, there is a downside. Some of these individuals were fully qualified to be admitted to USMA, but were persuaded to spend a year of development at USMAPS. And since USMAPS is a secondary school, the recruited players are not protected from poaching from the other service academies or other college football teams. Finally, each cadet candidate must repeat the USMA admissions process, so there is some degree of uncertainly that an individual is going to be admitted to USMA.
Army has lost a handful of recruits each year to other colleges.
And using USMAPS as a redshirt year does push the boundary of NCAA regulations.
In prior proposals, we talked about formerly established a redshirt year for each freshman on the Army Football team.
Independently of any other proposal, USMA should not be using USMAPS as a redshirt year. They cannot protect the cadet candidate from being recruited by another college team, and they force individuals who might have been directly admitted to USMA to repeat the admissions process.
Consider returning USMAPS to its core mission, to help individuals prepare for USMA admission.
If USMA decides not to formerly redshirt freshmen, and continue to use USMAPS for that purpose, the USMA administration should work with USNA and USAFA to propose a NCAA policy to protect its recruits from poaching.
One such idea might be to issue an admission letter for the next USMA class at the time of USMAPS admission to each person who was fully qualified for USMA admission during the previously cycle. The NCAA should consider such an admission letter to be the equivalent of a student signing a civilian college's athletic scholarship - and the NCAA rules in that situation would then apply. Now this won't prevent an individual from changing their mind, but it does minimize subsequent recruiting by others.
Furthermore, the NCAA policy should consider the admission letter the equivalent of the student signing for direct admits. Once in a while, USMA and the other academies lose someone who is recruited after being receiving an admission letter.
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