Sure, there are better rivalry game in terms of rankings. But in terms of history, or what it means to those enrolled in the academies and the alumni, there is simply no bigger rivalry in college football than Army-Navy.
It began in 1890, when Navy challenged the newly-formed Army team to a game. Navy won that opening contest, 24-0, and leads the all-time series with 53 wins, 49 losses, and seven ties.
The game has been held annually since then, with only a few exceptions: After the 1893 game, in which Navy won 6-4, that almost led to a duel between a Rear Admiral and a Brigadier General, the two schools weren’t allowed to travel to play and the rivalry took a five-year hiatus. It has also been canceled after the death of an Army cadet, two times during WWI and twice when the teams couldn’t agree to player eligibility standards.
But it’s what happens after the game that is probably the most impressive part — both teams meeting at midfield, go over to the losing team’s side and sing their alma mater, then they turn around, head to the winning team’s side and sing their alma mater. We can’t quite see Michigan and Ohio State doing that.
Of course I want the Army to win. That’s where I spent my four years of military service. My sister and her currently overseas-deployed husband are Navy people. The shame. In any event it’s one of the events that make America great: The storied sports, the pageantry, the inter- service rivalry, the camaraderie.
I know things will be tough for Army this year but the series is historically close. 54-49-7 (Navy). And of course once again it’s in Philly where it belongs. Lets hope our city officials can step up and secure a long-term committment from the Academies so they don’t lose the greatest rivalry in college sports like they lost the Dad Vail regatta recently.
Lets Go Army!!!