Editor’s Note: It seems like we’re likely to get a Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy winner this season despite everything. Nevertheless, we thought this was a good discussion for a week in which there’s no any Army Football.
The Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy is the highest profile triangle-trophy awarded annually in American college football. Now that the Army-Air Force game has been postponed and perhaps even cancelled*, we face questions about how to award the trophy if all three games are not played.
What should we do when Army-Air Force or even Army-Navy can’t play?
There are 2 issues at play here. First, how do we determine the winner of the series? Second, what happens to the trophy if no winner is decided?
— Brigade Review (@brigade_review) November 19, 2020
Determining a Winner
The current rule is simple. If a team wins both games, i.e. Army beats both Navy and Air Force, that team wins the trophy outright. If no team wins both, the trophy is not awarded.
If a game gets cancelled, and you’re 1-0, sorry, you don’t have two wins. That stinks, obviously, and Army fans have had reason for much of the year to want to clear up the difference between a pure cancellation and a forfeiture, but it is what it is.
If no one wins, no one wins.
Love it or hate it, it’s happened before and it will happen again. This year doesn’t have to be different. The only wrinkle would be if ties somehow make a comeback in college football, per the CiC series way back in 1981.
I'm not mad at Air Force for not having enough players to play because of Covid. I'm mad at them for sending half their team home for a redshirt semester while at a service academy and then acting innocent when they don't have backups to play. Always remember how classy they are. pic.twitter.com/maSvWRIyim
— Brigade Review (@brigade_review) November 6, 2020
What Happens When No One Wins?
If no one wins the trophy outright, we should barnstorm it. Not only would this make winning and holding the trophy more important in individual years, it would give all three academies a chance to better publicize their rivalry — and academy sports in general — to a larger audience.
To be clear, we should not just barnstorm the trophy this year, we should do it every year that there’s a three-way tie (i.e. 1974, 1976, 1980, 1993) instead of simply leaving it in the previous winner’s trophy case. In fact, it should probably spend most of its time in those off-years on display at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia. From there, though, the trophy could make barnstorming trips to places like the 4th of July Parade in Washington, DC, or perhaps even to the National September 11th Memorial in Lower Manhattan. Wouldn’t it be great if the trophy could be temporarily displayed at Civil War battle sites, or perhaps on World War II aircraft carriers, or in Tuskegee, Alabama, where the Red Tails learned to fly? The trophy could even visit major military installations so that Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines could actually see it and perhaps begin to develop a connection to it and to the games in which they are represented by the nation’s service academies.
Bottom line, this trophy especially should be accessible to more than just a few cadets and midshipmen. Yes, when an academy wins it outright, those cadets or mids deserve to hold it. Otherwise, let’s let the rest of the country see it, bringing more exposure to service academy football and, through football, to the academies themselves.
— Army Football (@ArmyWP_Football) November 25, 2020
* As of November 25th, Army-Air Force has been officially rescheduled for December 19th at 3:00 pm.
Special thanks to @todavyjones for his help with this article.
— Army Football (@ArmyWP_Football) November 26, 2020