For the first time in two decades, the Army Black Knights football team will not play as an independent. According to sources, officials from the American Athletic Conference (AAC) voted in favor of adding Army to the football lineup as soon as 2024. The Black Knights will replace SMU, who joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in September.
It should also be noted, this is for football only, as Army, along with rival Navy, are a part of the Patriot League for most other sports.
Apart from Army’s acceptance, the biggest question in finalizing the deal was keeping the famous Army-Navy Game at its special date, the week after conference championships. From 2005 to 2014, the two service academies both participated as independents, allowing them to have free rein over their schedules. Even when Navy left for the AAC in 2015, the game was kept as is.
Now with both teams in the same conference, the rivalry will remain unchanged as a non-conference matchup the Saturday after the American Athletic Conference Championship game. As you can probably put together, there is a chance that Army and Navy could play against each other in back to back weeks, but who wouldn’t want that?
Army has been non-Independent for only seven of their 130 seasons, when they were members of Conference USA from 1998-2004. There, the Black Knights struggled mightily, not winning more than three games in any season. In 2005, Army went back to being an FBS Independent, but sustained success took time and a coaching change.
Under three head coaches from 2005-2013, Army finished with a winning record once. Ahead of the 2014 season, Jeff Monken was hired. Monken came to West Point from Georgia Southern, then an FCS program, where he lead the Eagles to a 38-16 record in four seasons and three FCS Semifinal appearances, never getting over the hump.
By year three, Monken got Army football to a bowl game and the following season, the Black Knights won 10 games for the first time since 1996. In 2018, the fifth year of Monken’s tenure, Army was featured in the AP Poll. They climbed as high as number 19, the highest such mark since 1985.
Army football is off to a 2-5 start in 2023 and is at risk of their first losing season since 2019.
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