RAMSEY: Air Force needs to improve - and quickly

September 21, 2013 Updated: September 22, 2013 at 12:29 pm
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Air Force nose guard David Harris celebrates after Air Force recovered a fumble in the first quarter as the Falcons take on Wyoming at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo. Saturday, September 21, 2013. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Air Force coach Troy Calhoun wants his football team to play in a more modern facility.

"You better make sure you have a venue," Calhoun said Tuesday, referring to his hope for a more fan-friendly version of Falcon Stadium.

Coach, you better make sure you have a worthy football team.

Heading into Saturday's game with Wyoming, Calhoun and his Falcons had lost 16 of 27 games against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents.

At halftime of Saturday's late-night contest with the Cowboys, there was a massive traffic jam of fans departing Falcon Stadium. The red lights served as a stinging commentary for the current state of Calhoun's program.

Calhoun has a history of being full of opinions about how to improve the academy and its football program. In 2007, he began a brief campaign for the Falcons to depart the Mountain West to enjoy an easy life as a football independent. He wanted the Falcons to enjoy the same cushy life as Navy and Army.

This season, he's suggested the academy should consider redshirting athletes, which would require taxpayers to pick up the tab for a ninth semester. Remember, many Air Force players already begin their careers with a year at the prep school. Calhoun is asking for what amounts to a double redshirt.

Yes, a double redshirt.

He's talked about moving the north gate to better serve the public. This week, Calhoun might offer tips on how to speed up construction in that currently nightmarish stretch between Monument and the Springs.

Meanwhile, while all this advice is being offered, Calhoun's defense is in complete tatters. The Cowboys dropped 42 points on the Falcons in the first half and collected 454 total yards. This continues a depressing trend. Utah State and Boise State scored a total of 94 points on the Falcons.

Air Force desperately needs to add a touch of swagger and danger to its defense. Runners who challenge Falcons defenders have been given a warm welcome this season. The surest thing in college football this season? A pass completion against Air Force's secondary.

As the second half began, the Cowboys were once again celebrating in the end zone. This is a common - much too common - scene at Falcon Stadium.

It hasn't always been this way. Ben Garland and Carson Bird and Chris Thomas and, especially, Rick Ricketts brought a sense of menace on happier days for Calhoun at Falcon Stadium.

Calhoun deserves the right to speak out on various issues surrounding his football team, and it's encouraging to hear him speak clearly. When it comes to talking about his players, his words are usually jammed with meaningless platitudes.

But his focus must turn more completely to his football team.

When Calhoun walked on the field for Saturday's second half, he had to see the procession of cars in the near distance. These weren't departing Falcon Stadium because it isn't modern enough.

These fans were abandoning a football team that has lost its way.

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