Seven holiday hits for your Friday military-sports-reading pleasure (click through for the non-service-academy-football notes):
1. Everybody’s bowl bound. Blogging at The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette, Frank Schwab points us to football expert Phil Steele’s preseason bowl picks, which include all three service academies. Steele slots Air Force into the first bowl game of the season, playing Washington in the New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 15. Army punches its ticket to the Dec. 27 Military Bowl in Washington, D.C., to face Boston College, and two days later, Navy heads to San Francisco to face California in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Just a little football left to play before this gets sorted out.
2. Conference update. Also from Schwab, Air Force coach Troy Calhoun says the proposed Mountain West-Conference USA merger appears dead. And Boise State football officially joined the Big East after rumors of cold feet; had the Broncos backed out, the conference Navy will join in 2015 might’ve struggled to make it that far.
3. Army’s new faces. Army football beat writer supreme Sal Interdonato recaps the incoming freshman class here. And here, he talks about how some of those new faces could support an inexperienced defensive line.
4. More football, Part I. From academies to arena ball — our good friends at IndyStar.com have a must-read July 4 feature for Navy faithful on Charrod Taylor, a former sailor who plays for the Iowa Barnstormers and recounted his time aboard the destroyer Cole during the October 2000 terrorist attack.
5. More football, Part II. Dan Dietz Sr. lost his son, Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny P. Dietz, in Afghanistan in 2005. Dietz Sr., a Vietnam-era Navy vet, marked the seventh anniversary of his son’s passing by paying a surprise visit to a Denver-area high school football team; three former SEALs led the squad through a challenging workout circuit. Read more about Dietz’s efforts to honor his son here.
6. Can Mango medal? We’ve told you a bit about Army Sgt. Spenser Mango, Team USA Wrestling’s representative in the Greco-Roman 55-kilogram class at the London Olympics. Want to know about his competition? Curious whether Iran’s Hamid Sorian Reihanpour is the man to beat? Probably not, but check out TheMat.com’s weight-class breakdown to gauge Mango’s chances. Key quote: “The hope is that Mango is ready to medal in his second Olympic appearance.”
7. Proving his Worth. For Navy hoops to bounce back from a 3-26 season and end the nation’s longest losing streak, they’ll need a healthy, motivated Worth Smith. The rising sophomore talks to The Washington Times about his future and learning from his past, including how on-court struggles have followed him out to sea.