Updated: November 12, 2011 at 12:00 am
Former Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry was glad to be back on the field at Falcon Stadium, but it was different.
DeBerry spent 23 seasons on the sideline as Air Force’s head coach, and four more as an assistant. He was honored at halftime of Saturday’s game against Wyoming as part of being voted into the College Football Hall of Fame this year.
“I miss the heck out of it,” DeBerry said. “I miss the enthusiasm of game day. When I get up in the morning, I’ve got butterflies. If I’m at home, I’m going to watch football from 10 in the morning to 1:30 at night.
“As I came down the tunnel, it reminded me of many, many, many trips up and down that tunnel.”
DeBerry will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during a ceremony in New York on Dec. 6, and said he’s enjoying every bit of his hall-of-fame experience, including his trip back to Colorado Springs.
“It has been fun to be back home, and certainly to see so many of my players,” DeBerry said. “It’s about the players, it’s not about me. I’m honored to be selected, but you don’t do anything by yourself.”
The Falcons don’t know yet if quarterback Tim Jefferson, who suffered a concussion, will be able to start next week in what is the senior’s final home game.
"We'll see," Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said about Jefferson's availability next week. "That's one of those where each concussion, with symptoms that are involved in any way, that's a decision in regards to the health of the young man."
Defensive end Zach Payne is likely lost for the rest of the season with an injury to the same anterior cruciate ligament in his knee that he hurt in September. Payne came back to play through the injury last week but reinjured the knee in practice this week. Cornerback Anthony Wright left Saturday’s game with a hip injury.
Independence Bowl representatives attended Saturday’s game at Falcon Stadium, and said they would have no problem with taking Air Force for a second straight year if the Falcons become bowl eligible. However, the Falcons’ loss to Wyoming and Boise State’s loss later Saturday could mean the Independence Bowl, which has third choice among Mountain West teams, could have a more attractive option than Air Force. Before figuring out a bowl destination, Air Force needs to win its final two games to become bowl eligible.
“I hope we step up,” outside linebacker Alex Means said. “This is must win. We lose, we go home. If we want a bowl, it’s go time.”