Move to Big East? AFA fans say 'no' in a big way

October 10, 2011
photo - Air Force cadets were doing pushups to celebrate 28 points by the second quarter at Falcon Stadium at the Air Force Academy on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011. Air Force defeated Tennessee State 63-24 Photo by JERILEE BENNETT, THE GAZETTE
Air Force cadets were doing pushups to celebrate 28 points by the second quarter at Falcon Stadium at the Air Force Academy on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011. Air Force defeated Tennessee State 63-24 Photo by JERILEE BENNETT, THE GAZETTE 

Air Force fans might need some time to warm up to the Falcons’ possible move to the Big East for football.

In feedback to The Gazette – in comments on blog posts, and in Twitter and Facebook discussions – the reaction to the potential move has been almost unanimously negative. Those fans have issues with travel and its cost, the health of the Big East especially after TCU left for the Big 12 before arriving, Air Force’s ability to compete and losing regional rivalries. Air Force has said the travel change won’t be too dramatic, it wouldn’t join an unstable Big East, the Falcons rank favorably with other Big East football programs in budgets and stadium size, and regional rivalries could be part of nonconference scheduling.

Here’s a sampling of reader comments on The Gazette’s Air Force blog the past few days, with their online user names and sometimes edited for punctuation and grammar, and in some cases their full comments were edited for space reasons:

UtahFalcon: “Horrible idea. What about rivalries? What about fans? Shore up the MWC and we’ll be in a great situation. Mueh is going to be remembered as the AD that killed AF sports.”

MKL: “I live in Big East country, and the sentiment here is that the Big East is a sinking ship. Makes no sense geographically, makes no sense for recruiting, and it makes no sense if what AF wants is to get their football team into a higher-profile conference.”

Weasel: “The Big East is collapsing. Just look at TCU as an example of making any jump these days.”

Chris: “At first I thought he was just researching his options, but now I’m beginning to think he’s going to push the football team off the cliff.”

The Bird: “AFA leaving the MWC for the Big East in football is a foolish notion at best. No better yet, it’s downright irresponsible. No geographic rivalries and a travel budget/athletic department liquidator.”

Falcon backer: “Geographically speaking a move to the BE in football makes no sense. Maybe it would mean greater revenues for AFA. Having all three academies in the same conference does hold an appeal and AFA could always schedule CSU and WYO as nonconference games to maintain those regional rivalries. Still, I favor AFA’s football team remaining in the MWC.”

ChicagoZoomie: “Even assuming that Army and Navy join the conference (which is the only way a move makes any sense at all), I think it’s a terrible idea. Over the short run, although Air Force might be making more money for a year or two, it would impose a huge travel burden on the school, lose Air Force however many local fans that actually follow the teams on their travels up and down the Front Range, and not lead to an appreciable uptick in either the number or the quality of applicants the academy receives each year.”

On Facebook, Steve Fehl replied to a Gazette post asking for reaction saying he didn’t like the move, but understood it because it could increase income, exposure and help Air Force be part of the Bowl Championship Series. Here’s part of what Fehl had to say:

“I think this is a significant risk for a program like Air Force, because such a move will incur additional costs, and put a significant strain on the emphasis of "scholar/athlete" which is stressed as the No. 1 priority at the Academy,” he wrote. “However, the pattern in college football has been to sacrifice the student scholarship concept for football.

“I would prefer the Falcons stay home or join the Big 12, if they are to move . . . but I am just a fan.”

And when followers of The Gazette’s Air Force account on Twitter were asked for responses, they were also overwhelmingly against the move:

@IReilly1912: I think bad move. Split conferences and unequal revenue structures aren't going to survive.

@b_sanch_76: don't like it. Would ad a lot of travel and would not really be a step up in competition

@MyLobotomy: it makes sense if Army and Navy also join. The Big East will not be viewed in the same light as in the past though.

@CowboyAltitude: My vote: BOOOOOOOOO!!!!! As a UW fan, I want AFA to stay. Love the rivalry w/ the Pokes/Falcons. Great to have academy in MW.

@KeithB18: Mild defense of Mueh: doing nothing is probably as bad as moving to the BE. MW could fall apart, leaving AF w/o a home.

@chrismogren: it's really dumb.

@rscalli: Not too crazy about it. BE will be a hodgepodge of teams. Rather stick it out in MWC for now.

@PeterCBigelow: It'd be a short-term fix, a garbage move and one beneath Air Force.

@Poke7220Pride Long trip for fans to make for conference games

@VegasRebelFan I enjoy playing the cadets even with the UGLY games we've had in BB. #AFA is national but the Falcons are #MW!

@PhilthyPhil31I like the move if USNA/USMA come. Greater nonconference flexibility. Talent level lower than MWC of recent

@1310ticketless i'm all for the BE now... MWC has lost so much the past 15 months or so...

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