For want of a better title, I'm really curious about what the different service academies do differently. I am hoping people can chime in with some real analysis, not just good old venting! Some variables I can think of that account for the rise and fall of football fortunes: 1. Coaching: In the days of Fisher DeBerry at USAFA, the Air Force Academy trounced the other two Division I service academies -- the guy was just a legendary coach. George Welsh and later Paul Johnson seemed like difference makers at Navy, and now Niumatalolo has done well enough for long enough that it seems like you can't just dismiss him as a care-taker for Johnson. How much of this is just Navy getting lucky with two good coaches back to back? 2. Summer Training: The only really physically rigorous summer training I had at USNA was Leatherneck (run by the Marines for USNA Corps wannabes). Plebe summer was no joke mentally, but physically was not very tough. After TBS and IOC, I can personally say nothing takes weight off like living in the field eating MREs and humping (rucking in Army-speak?). As I understand it, all cadets, without regard to optional stuff, have two significant periods of summer training where they do some rucking and live in the field, at Lake Frederick during Beast and the next summer at Camp Buckner. That's two summers in a row that the big boys are away from the weights and the training table for long periods of time. In the articles I read, it sounds like USMA is focusing on this as an area of possible change: see NYTimes article today: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/31/s...step-toward-a-turnaround.html?ref=sports&_r=0 I don't know as much about summer training at USAFA but it seems to stand to reason there would not be as much emphasis on field exercises. 3. Source of funding: This one goes up to #1 again. I read on the "Bird Dog," a USNA football blog, that USNA funds most or all of football through the Naval Athletic Association, a private entity, while Army and Air Force have structures that make the football coaches more like federal contractors. According to the blog, anyway, it makes it easier for Navy to spend big money on the Coach and AD. 4. Location: Ordinary NARP cadets/mids do seem to prefer Colorado Springs and Annapolis to West Point -- does that make a difference in recruiting? Interested to hear people's thoughts -- honestly, not on the issue of "should the academies even be playing Division I football," which is a separate discussion, but on the issue of what structural differences there might be between programs. In terms of things that are not variables, at least as far as I can tell (and the sports rosters seem to support this), USAFA, USMA, and USNA all use the Prep Schools for redshirting/academic polishing so I don't see that as a variable (but maybe that's not right). They all have the service requirement.