Calhoun at home at Air Force and in Texas
By Art Garcia, www.armedforcesbowl.com
Taking a service academy to a bowl game in eight of the last nine years is no easy feat. Considering the academic and physical demands are unlike any in college football, the job done by Air Force coach Troy Calhoun is nothing short of extraordinary.
Calhoun, a former cadet, understands what he has and what he doesn't. He wouldn't want it any other way.
"In terms of body size, we're the smallest in all of college football," Calhoun said. "And yet I don't think you'd ever see a squad, when it comes to the esprit, certainly the kind of heart and the kind of character you want in future officers, we're loaded. We're pretty good that way. And yet we better be, especially for who we're going to encounter in this game."
The 8-5 Falcons end their season in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowls against 7-5 Cal. Kickoff is Dec. 29 at Amon Carter Stadium at 1 p.m. CT on ESPN.
When the season began, Calhoun was one of 14 head coaches leading his alma mater. The 1989 Air Force Academy graduate spent four years in the NFL before returning to Colorado Springs in 2007.
Calhoun worked with current Denver Broncos coach Gary Kubiak for four years, first in the Mile High City and one year as the offensive coordinator with the Houston Texans. Calhoun took many of the principles he learned in the NFL to Air Force, with some adjustments.
"We had to kind of morph and change and adapt to the personnel there that we had at the Air Force Academy," Calhoun said. "We are quite a bit smaller on the offensive line and then the other part, there are some things involved in recruiting.
"Certainly if you come to the Academy, you are going to go serve on active duty rather than play in the NFL, and academically you are going through basic training and just everything that's involved in the Academy. So sometimes that's a factor in recruiting."
Calhoun is 67-49 going into his fifth Armed Forces Bowl. The Falcons' six consecutive bowls from 2007-12 are a school record. Calhoun's 3-4 bowl record includes an Armed Forced Bowl victory over Houston (47-20) in 2009.
Playing a game in Fort Worth, again, is a definite recruiting tool for Air Force. Calhoun plans on having potential recruits at practices leading up to the Armed Forces Bowl. The Falcons also have a game scheduled next season at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas against New Mexico.
Calhoun would like to have a permanent presence in Texas. There have been discussions regarding the Mountain West expending into the Lone Star State. Calhoun referenced the Rice rumors as a possibility.
"Rice would be perfect," he said. "Now there are some agreements and so forth that go that way, but maybe even a school here in the Metroplex. We're academically a strong school and it would be a natural fit for us to be here even more."