Navy remains committed to an unsettled Big East

Navy is still on board for Big East football in 2015.

The Midshipmen remain committed to joining the unsettled

conference for football only, starting in 2015. Navy has been

playing football since 1879 without conference affiliation until it

made the decision last year to join a Big East – a league that has

undergone a massive facelift in 15 months.

”Right now, nothing’s changed in terms of our attitude or

ambition in terms of joining in `15,” Athletic Director Chet

Gladchuk said Wednesday. ”We’re just going to see how it all

unfolds.”

Gladchuk was in Philadelphia to promote the 113th Army-Navy game

on Dec. 8 at Lincoln Financial Field. The U.S. Naval Academy agreed

last year to give up more than 130 years of football independence

to join a conference that is in the middle of a massive overhaul.

Louisville on Wednesday became the fourth school in 15 months and

seventh in the past decade to leave the Big East for the ACC. The

Big East also lost Rutgers last week. The reinvented conference

added Tulane and East Carolina this week.

Though both schools are bolting for different conferences,

Louisville plays at Rutgers on Thursday night with the conference’s

bid to the Bowl Championship Series berth on the line. While

Gladchuk said the caliber of schools departing the Big East is,

”not necessarily what we envisioned,” he said the Midshipmen

could no longer continue as an independent, and he believes the

conference could still fill their needs in terms of scheduling and

desirable TV deals.

”Navy wants to remain relevant as a program with national

stature,” he said. ”We know we’ve got to be affiliated with a

conference. That’s why the Big East right now is our

direction.”

The Midshipmen (7-4) secured a bid to play a Pac-12 team in the

Fight Hunger Bowl on Dec. 29 in San Francisco. The Big East will

allow Navy to maintain its annual rivalries with Army, Air Force

and Notre Dame, and that the Army-Navy game will still be the

season finale for both teams, regardless of when a future Big East

championship game is played.

Ken Niumatalolo has coached the Midshipmen in four other bowl

games since 2007. He has Navy back in a bowl after a 5-7 record

last season.

He’s pitched the idea of playing in the Big East to recruits but

remained concerned the shifting landscape among the major

conferences could still come back to bite Navy.

”We’re trying to get ready for our big game,” he said. ”But

that’s in the back of our mind, where’s our program going?”

For now, the only answer is Philadelphia. Navy plays Army with

the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy on the line for the first time

since 2005. The trophy is awarded to the team with the best record

in games between the three service academies. Both teams have

defeated Air Force. Navy has a whopping 10-game winning streak

against its biggest rival in its biggest game of the season.

But the question looms, will the Big East still be the right fit

for Navy in three more years?

”We’re trying to improve our facilities, we’re trying to build

up our infrastructure, we’re trying to get ready to go,”

Niumatalolo said. ”My only question is, if we don’t go to the Big

East, what happens to us? Is it just going to be those five big

conferences and everyone else becomes I-AA football?”

The Midshipmen were more concerned Wednesday with the health of

freshman quarterback Ralph Montalvo. Niumatalolo said Montalvo

remained in a medically-induced coma after he was critically

injured in a car accident near his home last week in Florida.

”Some days his signs are better, sometimes his signs are not as

good,” Niumatalolo said. ”He has a wonderful family that’s been

very supportive of him at the hospital. Hopefully, he’s having a

good day today.”

Navy also said there was a chance Montalvo could be brought out

of the coma on Friday. He received his Army-Navy jersey the team

sent him and his father told the school that would be the second

thing he saw on Friday, after his mother.

Follow Dan Gelston on Twitter: https://twitter.com/APGelston