I'm coming at this from a biased perspective, but there is something special and unique about an Army-Navy football game. Most nationally televised games feature players and coaches who are doing everything they can to promote themselves for a better job or a chance at the NFL - the next step has already been decided for the players from both of these service academies. Even if you aren't a fan of college football or sports in general, you can watch this game and feel an incredible sense of pride and patriotism in seeing some of the best leaders our nation has to offer, on the field and in the stands.
Now, as a Navy fan, yesterday's game was a great way to end the season. For a team that has had so many struggles and heartbreaking losses, it was awesome to see the Midshipmen be able to finish a close game. A defense that has been torched all season came up with big turnovers and a huge stop in the 4th quarter, a senior kicker who has a had a nightmare season hit a clutch field goal, and a quarterback who's battled injuries all year made some key runs to help his senior class go out on top. In a way, it's just a football game - and in a way, it means everything. Every day of the year, these two schools think about beating each other. At Navy, they say "BEAT ARMY!" after nearly everything they do. "BEAT ARMY" as they turn the corner to go down the hall. "BEAT ARMY!" as a plebe finishes a set of push ups. And for the 10th year in a row, "BEAT ARMY!" on the football field. Mission accomplished. Go Navy!
Worst - The Cincinnati vs. Xavier Brawl
If the Army-Navy game is the standard for everything great about college athletics, the end of the Cincinnati-Xavier men's basketball game is the standard for everything wrong with college athletics. In a rivalry game that had turned into a blowout (Xavier won 76-53), the game finished with an on-court brawl. It began with trash talking from both teams and quickly escalated into a fight with Cincinnati's Yancy Gates punching a Xavier player in the head and then other Bearcats kicking the Xavier player while he was on the ground. It didn't get any better after the game - Xavier's players were proud of how they stuck up for themselves and didn't back down from a fight while Mick Cronin, Cincinnati's Head Coach, promised heavy consequences for his players.
A strong message would have been dismissing Yancy Gates, the team's best post player, off the team. Instead, the university announced it will suspend Gates for six games. How convenient that five of those games will be against insignificant non-conference opponents. Gates will miss also miss the Big East conference opener against Pittsburgh. No Xavier player will be suspended for more than one game. In short, both teams displayed embarrassing and unacceptable behavior - and neither institution or coach has enough backbone to assess the discipline and consequence the players deserve. It doesn't get much worse than that.