Coaches luncheon

Air Force football coach Troy Calhoun, left, participates in a panel discussion with his counterparts (from left) Mike MacIntyre of Colorado, Earnest Collins Jr., of Northern Colorado, John Wristen of CSU-Pueblo, and Mike Bobo of Colorado State.

Air Force’s new defensive coordinator is …

Troy Calhoun still isn’t saying.

The position, vacated by Steve Russ’ departure for the NFL in January, remains unfilled — at least publicly — as the Falcons close to within a month of the start of practice.

Asked about it Tuesday as the state’s top college coaches gathered for a panel discussion over lunch in Colorado Springs, Calhoun remained defiantly silent on the position or the reason he’s kept the process of filling it so tightly guarded.

Calhoun addressed, or rather deflected, questions about his defensive coordinator in a session with media before taking the stage with Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre, Colorado State’s Mike Bobo, Northern Colorado’s Earnest Collins Jr., and CSU-Pueblo’s John Wristen at Hotel Elegante at an event hosted by the Colorado Springs Sports Corp.

“I don’t know if it’s necessarily a delay,” Calhoun said when asked why he has opted to take an abnormally long time to announce a coordinator. “I’ve yet to see a law or an edict that says that you must.

“We’ll see as we head down the road here. I think the key is I want to make sure fundamentally we are much, much better in terms of open-field tackling, getting off blocks and the clarity of what we’re doing defensively with our scheme.”

The position breakdown of the Falcons’ defensive staff is outlined on its website, with defensive line coach Tim Cross being the only one to carry the additional title of assistant head coach. An official inquiry by The Gazette to list specific coaching assignments under the Freedom of Information Act was denied by the academy, as football assistants are not government employees but paid by the Air Force Academy Athletic Corp. Air Force, like the other service academies, have used those corporations to shield information it says is no longer subject to public records laws.

So, Calhoun either hasn’t decided who will run his defense or sees no reason to tip his hand to opponents by revealing Russ’ successor.

The logical replacement would be Brian Knorr, a former Air Force quarterback and assistant who rejoined the staff in March. Knorr has coordinated defenses at Ohio, Wake Forest and Indiana. But perhaps Calhoun will designate an assistant like defensive backs coach John Rudzinski to run the defense, or hand the reins to Cross and ask him to lead a unit that gave up 35-plus points five times over the final nine games of a 5-7 2017 season.

Right now, mum’s the word because that’s what Calhoun has decided and there are no outside forces to compel him otherwise.

“As of today,” he said, “that’s what we’ve chosen to do.”

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