Five of the next six Army-Navy games, including the 2017 clash on Dec. 9, are set to be played at Lincoln Financial Field, and that meets with the approval of the head coaches at the two academies.
“I think it’s awesome,” Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo said Wednesday before the city’s Army-Navy luncheon at the Linc. “We enjoy coming here and I’m sure Army does, too.
“The people of Philadelphia have embraced us. I feel like on both sides of it, I think there’s a mutual appreciation for the city of Philadelphia, for the Army-Navy game and for the Navy people, the appreciation that we have for the hospitality that we receive every year that we come here.”
Army coach Jeff Monken, who coached on the same staff with Niumatalolo at Navy from 2002 through 2007, feels the same way.
“Philadelphia’s a great city, and this city really embraces the Army-Navy game,” Monken said. “I think the people of Philadelphia feel like this game belongs to them and that’s neat because when we come here, they embrace these teams and this game and they really make you feel like this is special to them, and it is.”
This year will mark the 118th game in the series and the 87th to be held in Philadelphia. The process of working out a new contract is never an easy one — Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk called the process that led to the agreement last August “lengthy and elaborate” — but it’s one that works out for the city and the academies.
“They set the bar,” Gladchuk said. “When you talk about logistics, you talk about game prep, you talk about the detail that goes into conducting an event of this magnitude, more so than just a football game, there’s no one that does it better, no one that understands it more, and no one is more prepared than Philadelphia.”
Every Army-Navy game will be held in Philadelphia through 2022 with the exception of 2021, when it will take place at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
For the first time since 2001, Army (8-3) enters this game with a better record than Navy (6-5). The Mids have played three ranked teams, losing by three points to Memphis, by 10 to undefeated Central Florida, and by seven to Notre Dame. The Black Knights have played one ranked team, losing, 38-7, at Ohio State.
Last year’s game was played in Baltimore, where Army snapped a 14-game losing streak to its rival with a 21-17 victory. The Midshipmen have never lost to the Black Knights at the Linc, going 10-0.
A special feature this year is that the winner will take possession of the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy, presented annually to the academy with the best record in games involving Army, Navy and Air Force.
This will be just the third time in the last 13 years that the trophy winner will be decided at Army-Navy. The Black Knights have not won the trophy since 1996.
“That trophy is a source of pride for the academy that holds it,” Monken said. “So for us, it’d be a source of pride for us, for our team, for the United States Military Academy, for the United States Army in general, to just have bragging rights for a year.”