I’ve rarely seen Falcons coach Troy Calhoun get truly upset in my time on the beat (except when I ask my daily questions about injuries, but that’s another topic). But Calhoun’s voice rose and he started to shift back and forth when he started passionately talking about Air Force sports’ struggles within the Mountain West.
Calhoun’s own team has done pretty well. The football team has gone 17-8 in the conference since 2007. Other sports haven’t done so well, posting poor records in Mountain West play. And across the board, the teams at Air Force hear about how they can’t compete because of their disadvantages.
“The one area that gets a little bit of an uneasy edge, under the skin, is being told you can’t win at the Air Force Academy,” Calhoun said. “I hear all the time, in your I-AA sports, when you play primarily I-AA schedules in those sports, you can have some decent teams, but here in the Mountain West conference sports, you can’t be worth a flip. I get tired of hearing that. I’m not taking that. We shouldn’t take that, either.
“I know last year in our Mountain West Conference sports in head-to-head competition we were whatever and whatever … and yet, garbage – I don’t care what the peripheral is, I don’t care what’s authored, I don’t care how many draft picks, I don’t care about any of that. We can have quality teams here, we can have competitive squads here.”
Asked about his football team’s success in the Mountain West, Calhoun said, “We have more work to do.” But he said he didn’t want to hear that the Falcons can’t compete in any sport.
“No malaise, none,” Calhoun said. “I hear ‘We only went 14-102 last year in head-to-head … ‘ Garbage. I’m not buying it.”
Calhoun talked about Duke, Northwestern and Vanderbilt as a few other schools with tough academic requirements that play in a major conference. He said he hears the best those schools can hope for is to be successful every few years, but they’re mostly in for a lot of losing seasons. He doesn’t buy that for those schools, and he doesn’t buy it for Air Force.
“I think it’s a big bunch of crock,” Calhoun said. “I”m not saying it’s easy, but to say you can’t … I can’t buy that.”