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Navy Midshipmen

The Navy Midshipmen football team represents the United States Naval Academy in NCAA Division I-A college football. They are a Division I Football Bowl Subdivision independent school (not in a conference) and coached by Ken Niumatalolo since December 2007. Navy has 19 players and 3 coaches in the College Football Hall of Fame and won the National Championship in 1926 according to the Boand and Houlgate poll systems. The 1910 team also was undefeated and unscored upon (the lone tie being a 0–0 tie). The mascot is Bill the Goat. On January 24, 2012, the Naval Academy announced it would become a member of the Big East Conference (which was renamed the American Athletic Conference in July of 2013) beginning with the 2015 season.

Army

The Army–Navy Game, an annual game generally played on the last weekend of the college football regular season in early December, pits the football teams of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York (Army) and United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland (Navy) against one another. It is one of the most traditional and enduring rivalries in college football, and is televised every year by CBS. It was in the 1963 Army–Navy game that instant replay made its debut.

This game has always had inter-service "bragging rights" at stake; in past decades, when both Army and Navy were often national powers, the game occasionally had national championship implications. However, as top-level college football has developed into primarily a training ground for the National Football League (NFL), the high academic entrance requirements, height and weight limits, and the military commitment required of West Point and Annapolis graduates has reduced the overall competitiveness of both academies. In fact, only once in the last 40 years have both Army and Navy entered the game with winning records (1996).

While Navy has had a resurgence in recent years, Army is no longer nationally competitive on a regular basis, however, the tradition of the game has ensured that it remains nationally televised to this day. One of the great appeals of this game to many fans is that its players are largely playing for the love of the game, since almost none will ever play in the NFL. The game is especially emotional for the seniors, called "first classmen" by both academies, since it is typically the last competitive football game they will ever play. However, Navy went to a bowl game every year from 2003 until 2010, Army had a chance to become bowl eligible with a victory in the 2009 contest (which they did not get), and both teams entered the game with a winning record in 2010. In fact, 2011 marked the first time in several seasons that neither Army nor Navy were either bowl eligible or could have qualified with a victory.

During wartime, the game is even more emotional because some seniors will not return once they are deployed. For instance, in the 2004 game, at least one senior from the class of 2003 who was killed in Iraq, Navy's J. P. Blecksmith, was remembered. The players placed their comrade's pads and jerseys on chairs on the sidelines. Much of the sentiment of the game goes out to those who share the uniform and who are overseas.