ANNAPOLIS (WJZ) — It’s about pride and it’s about tradition.
As the countdown until kickoff at the Army-Navy game Saturday continues, Linh Bui has Coffee With the Commandant of the Naval Academy Capt. Bill Byrne.
Read the interview below:
Bui: It’s a rivalvy — one of the biggest ones in college football history. Can you talk about all the history and tradition that goes behind this game?
Byrne: So the 115th meeting. We’ve been playing them since 1890. It truly is America’s game in that every player on that field would give their lives for all 70,000 people watching in the stands, the millions watching from home and frankly the 330 million fellow citizens.
Bui: Army-Navy — these aren’t just schools. These are men and women who protect our country. So it’s also very emotional.
Byrne: It is emotional. It’s going to be the last time they put the shoulder pads on for some of them. Some of them get to go one. We luckily get to go on to a bowl game this year. A couple of people will get to go on and play in one of the senior all-star games, but for the majority of them, it’s the last time they’re going to strap it on.
Bui: You played football here — can you tell us a little bit about that?
Byrne: It was the mid 80s. I would like you not to ask about our one and loss record. I’d like to say we were building the foundation for today’s success. But over my four years, we were 2-and-2 in the Army-Navy game.
Bui: Can you talk about how intense the competition really is, because there are bragging rights at stake and everybody wants to win.
Byrne: There are bragging rights that follow all of us through our careers. So the first day as midshipman, Induction Day, a few things happen. You get you head shaved. You get your civilian clothes taken away. You get a uniform put on you. You take the oath of office. and you learn the two words that are going to follow you for the rest of your life — “BEAT ARMY.”
Bui: We even noticed some things on our walk over here to do the interview. Can you talk about these annual tradition of pranking each other?
Byrne: Good-spirited high jinks. We call them spirit missions. We have seven West point cadets here on semester exchange so we are paying some special attention to them.
Old Man Tecumseh is painted with a Beat Navy insignia, Bill the Goat out of the gate was painted pink this morning. All good fun. All in the spirit of the game.
Bui: Navy leads this historic series with 12 wins in a row. Does that add more pressure?
Byrne: It does. It does. So there are nine classes in a row now who have never lost to Army. We’re hoping that the class of 2015 is going to be the 10th in a row to go 4-and-0 against the cadets.
Bui: And how is it having the game here in Maryland this year?
Byrne: It’s great logistically, obviously. We’re familiar with M & T Bank Stadium. We had a great opener against Ohio State there. We hope that there’s going to be a lot of blue and gold in the stadium and a lot of spirit.
Bui: For you as commandant and a former player, what does this game mean to you?
Byrne: Well it means everything to the players. It means everything to the midshipmen. Again “Beat Army” are the first two words you are taught as a midshipmen. And as the commandant, it makes me so proud with the spirit of the brigade. The way they’re turning to the spirited week in the midst of their final exams to beat Army for the 13th time in a row.
Everyone can join in on the excitement of the 115th Army-Navy game by enjoying a pep rally at noon at the Inner Harbor Amphitheater on Friday.
Join WJZ for coverage of the game starting at noon on Saturday, Dec. 13.
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