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        === Up periscope -- Navy looks ahead to joining the Big East ===
 
 By Frank Haynes, Senior College Football Editor
 
 Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - With the announcement earlier this year
 that it will be joining the Big East Conference in 2015, the United States
 Naval Academy football team will end its run as a Football Bowl Subdivision
 Independent.
 
 Having produced both a U.S. President and Super Bowl-winning quarterback, Navy
 has a rich history of excelling on and off the gridiron. With the majority of
 its players having little chance of playing in the NFL however, Navy recruits
 focus more on their education and the pride associated with serving their
 country.
 
 Despite the fact that the federal government funds the scholastic-based
 endeavors at all of the service academies, athletic operations at the schools
 rely mostly on non-profit associations to help them secure the revenue
 necessary to compete on the national stage.
 
 Navy's decision to opt for conference affiliation, while primarily financial
 based, will allow it to be more competitive, in particular with regard to the
 possibility of earning a more prominent bowl bid. It will also help in the
 world of recruiting, although perhaps from a more centralized area.
 
 All that said, there is still the matter of getting into the school as it
 maintains one of the more stringent admission policies of any institution any
 where, not to mention the mandatory service requirement that accompanies
 acceptance. Still, the opportunity to be on national television more often,
 coupled with the possibility of a more attractive postseason destination,
 could be what the team needs to lure in even greater talent.
 
 There were some who felt that moving to a conference would hinder the team's
 ability to maintain its current rivalries, but the Big East understood that
 for Navy to consider joining, the Commander-in-Chief's series (versus Army and
 Air Force) would have to continue, as would the school's long-standing
 relationship with Notre Dame.
 
 Big East Commissioner John Marinatto was thrilled to welcome Navy into the
 fold, "America's first national football conference is adding a program with
 true national appeal. Navy's decision to make the Big East its first football
 conference home after more than 100 years of independence demonstrates the
 value of our new expansion model and the long-term viability of our football
 product. The Big East is truly proud to be associated with one of the most
 prestigious academic institutions in the country, and one of the most storied
 programs in college football."
 
 Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Admiral Michael Miller, USN echoed that
 sentiment, "The Naval Academy is pleased to accept the invitation for our
 football team to join The Big East Conference." He continued, "After careful
 consideration, we believe this affiliation to be in the best interests of the
 Naval Academy, our athletic programs and the Brigade of Midshipmen. While our
 independent status has served Navy football well to date, Big East conference
 affiliation will help ensure our future scholar-athletes and athletic programs
 remain competitive at the highest levels for the foreseeable future."
 
 Ken Niumatalolo has been Navy's head coach since 2007, and he has led the
 Midshipmen to a record of 32-21 and four bowl games. Unfortunately, Navy is
 just 1-3 in those postseason clashes, losing a pair of Poinsettia Bowl
 matchups to Utah (2007) and San Diego State (2010), as well as to Wake Forest
 in the 2008 EagleBank Bowl. The Mids beat Missouri in the 2009 Texas Bowl.
 
 In its history, Navy is 7-9-1 in bowl games, and the team's one and only
 national championship was claimed back in 1926 when the Mids joined Alabama and
 Stanford in posting an undefeated season. Navy was led into battle by first-
 year head coach Bill Ingram, who played at the school from 1916-18, and he
 amassed a 32-13-4 mark during his five-year coaching run in Annapolis. Ingram
 was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1973.
 
 While still a few years away from having to navigate the rough waters of
 conference play, Niumatalolo is looking forward to doing so, "It's a great day
 for Navy football, and we are very excited about the opportunity. The
 differences between the haves and have-nots is widening, but we will not
 compromise who we are. We know we can do it."
 
 Big East football in 2015 is expected to consist of teams from Boise State,
 UCF, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Louisville, Memphis, Navy, Rutgers, San
 Diego State, USF, SMU and Temple. For now, the Mids will simply continue doing
 what they always do...taking on all comers and doing their best to represent
 themselves, their school and their country with class and dignity.
 
 Navy opens the 2012 campaign on Sept. 1 against Notre Dame in Dublin, Ireland,
 will play at Air Force on the first Saturday in October, and as usual, close
 out the regular season against Army in Philadelphia on Dec. 8.
 
 
 
 07/20 12:31:17 ET