Since I was a very young lad living in farm country in the Midwest, I have had a love for college football. Do you like college football? What is your favorite team? If you are in the United States Army, I am sure that you do love the USMA football team better known as the Army Black Knights. Which, you should know that this year, they will be known as the Army Cadets.
Don’t worry if Army wasn’t your favorite team when you were young; many within the Army ranks do not even rank Army as their favorite team even now. I must admit that the team that has always been my favorite is the Nebraska Cornhuskers, but I have a love an admiration for the Army Black Knights, and I will root for them in any, and all games…well unless they meet Nebraska, and then I will have to say I do not know who I will root for. I will probably pray for a tie.
In today’s post, we are going to look back in history. I am going to post my view of the top 10 USMA (West Point) football teams ever. Scroll down and see if you agree. I am starting at #10 and working my way down to #1.
In 1933, Garrison Davidson at 29 years old, became the youngest head coach of the US Military Academy football team. He was tremendous and led his team to a 9 and 1 season. The only loss was to Notre Dame in the last game of the season and that loss was by only 1 point. The Black Knights shut out their opponents in 7 of the games of 1933. Army averaged 22.7 points scored per game in 1933. Jack Buckler, Army’s halfback, gained 1st team honors on the College Football All-America Team.
The Army Black Knights had a 9 and 1 season in 1927 with their only loss coming from the Yale football team. Under the great coach Biff Jones, Army shut out 6 of their opponents. Army averaged 19.7 points per game in 1927. All American 1st team members were Red Cagle (halfback), Bud Sprague and George Perry (tackles).
Bob Sutton was the head coach of the 1996 Army football team. He had dismal teams several years before that, but the 1996 team averaged 31.6 points per game and ended the season with a record of 10 and 2. The losses were to a #19 rated Syracuse team, and then Army lost to Auburn in the Independence Bowl. Sutton received the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award too.
It was over 100 years ago, but the Army Cadets were the National Champions in 1914. They had a perfect 9 and 0 season under head coach Charles Daly. The 1914 team averaged 24.3 points per game, and they had several All Americans including Vernon Prichard (quarterback), Louis Merrilat (end) and John McEwan (center). Oh and by the way, Omar Bradley played on this team.
Army’s great coach, Earl “Red” Blaik took this team for an undefeated season and they ended the season ranked #4, but they did win the Lambert-Meadowlands Trophy. The Army team was assaulted by the press after they beat #1 Michigan badly. They were accused of cheating and playing dirty football. One of the hidden facts about this team was the name of the Army offensive coordinator. The great Vince Lombardi was the offensive coach of this team that averaged 39.3 points per game.
This was another great year for the Army Cadets and head coach Charles Daly. Ending the season with the National Championship, Army had a scoring average of 26.1 points per game. Elmer Oliphant was the Army fullback, and he was chosen for the 1st string All American team.
Red Blaik had developed a ferocious Army team in 1944. These players could not be stopped. With a perfect 9 and 0 season, and a 56 scoring average per game, it was no wonder that Army were the national champs at seasons end. The really cool part of that was: Navy was ranked #2 when they played, making that one of the best Army/Navy games ever. The great Glenn Davis won the Maxwell Award.
1946 was another year with Red Blaik taking the helm of the Army Black Knights. While many may wonder why I put this team above the 1944 team since they had 1 tie and 9 wins, the Army schedule was much more difficult. Army averaged 26.3 points per game. The 1 tie came against a strong Notre Dame team. Blaik won the AFCA Coach of the Year award, and Glenn Davis was awarded the Heisman Trophy.
This was the final year that Army would have Red Blaik as their head coach. He took this young team to an 8-0-1 record with the 1 tie coming against Pittsburgh. Averaging 29.3 points per game, Army was ranked in #3 at season’s end. What brings this team to #2 in my opinion are the 2 awards that were given; the great Pete Dawkins was given both the Heisman Trophy and the Maxwell Award. This great could have been a professional football player, but instead led soldiers in Vietnam, and then became a business great.
This Army football team probably could have beat the majority of professional football teams. They were amazing! Red Blaik was head coach and the Black Knights averaged 45.8 points per game in this undefeated season in which they were the National Champions. The ranked teams Army beat were:
#9 Michigan 28 to 7
#19 Duke 48 to 13
#2 Notre Dame 48 to 0
#6 Pennsylvania 61 to 0
and #2 Navy 32 to 13
In a first ever, a Junior was given 3 awards. Doc Blanchard won the Heisman Trophy and the Maxwell Award, and he was the first football player to be given the James E. Sullivan Award. I actually wish I could enter a time machine just to watch the 1945 Army Black Knights.
Well, this is my opinion of the top 10 USMA football teams ever. Do you agree or disagree? Please tell me your thoughts; you can do so in the comments area below.
Army has a long and proud football tradition. Feel free to tell us about the teams you loved, games you have been to and any other information about the Army Black Knights.
Thanks for visiting.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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