With new conference membership, Army could play Navy twice

by Tommy Grant

The Army football team Black Knights will become the newest member of the American Athletic Conference in 2024, giving them a shot at more potential bowl games.

Mike Buddie, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point Director of Athletics, made the announcement on Oct. 25.

“I am excited to start the next chapter of Army football. In today’s evolving collegiate athletics landscape, it is great to partner with established, respected programs to secure the future success of Army football,” Buddie said.

He cited new collegiate athletic rules, the growth of the College Football Playoff invitational tournament, and other impacts to college sports as part of the decision to join the conference.

The move will give Army a clearer path to a potential conference championship, which opens up opportunities for more post-season bowl games and television coverage, Buddie added.

West Point has played as an independent football program for nearly all its history, starting in 1890. The lone exception was a seven-season period from 1998 to 2004 when the Academy was a member of Conference USA.

During that period, Army won only 13 games, two of those against its rival, the U.S. Naval Academy.

Don’t worry, the annual Army-Navy Game match up will remain as the final regular season game for the two academies.

In fact, there’s a small chance that the teams could face off twice each season, if they both managed to win a bid to the AAC Conference championship.

That’s because Navy joined the AAC in 2015. Until then, the school, like Army, had operated as an independent for its entire history.

Therefore, if both teams manage to win out during the regular season, they could meet in the conference championship again after their regularly-scheduled second weekend of December date.

“We are honored to welcome Army to the American Athletic Conference. Army’s football program has an iconic national brand with a legacy of success that spans more than a century and is a perfect fit with our conference,” Mike Aresco, AAC commissioner said in an Oct. 25 statement.

Army will continue its TV partnership with the CBS Sports Network through 2028, according to a West Point release. The agreement covers all Army home games.

The academy will continue to play the Air Force Academy, which keeps the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy competition alive. The trophy is awarded to winner of the three-team competition.

Historically, the Navy-Air Force game is played on the first Saturday in October. The Army-Air Force game takes place on the first Saturday in November and the Army-Navy Game is played on the second weekend in December. The Coast Guard Academy is not included in the competition.

If there is a tie, the previous winner retains ownership of the trophy.

The AAC members as of 2023 include the following schools:

  • University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • University of North Carolina Charlotte
  • East Carolina University
  • Florida Atlantic University
  • University of Memphis
  • United States Naval Academy
  • University of North Texas
  • Rice University
  • University of South Florida
  • Southern Methodist University
  • Temple University
  • University of Texas at San Antonio
  • Tulane University
  • University of Tulsa

Source: American Athletic Conference

This year’s Army-Navy Game will be played at the Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The game will be broadcast on CBS and begins at 3 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday, Dec. 9.

Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.

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