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Calhoun in favor of more turnbacks for Air Force Athletics

Calhoun in favor of more turnbacks for Air Force Athletics
Posted at 11:44 PM, Oct 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 07:52:44-04

USAFA — Air Force head football coach Troy Calhoun is in the middle of a unique year for Falcon football.

"If playing in a major conference is something you want to do… it’s a no-brainer."

Entering his 14th year as the head coach at the Academy, Calhoun has led Air Force to a 6-1 start, the best start for a Falcon football team since 2002.

Yet on Tuesday, Calhoun, who is preparing for a top 25 match-up with San Diego State on Saturday at Falcon Stadium, fielded questions about a statement he made about the turnback players on his roster.

In 2020, the Falcons saw numerous players from the 2019 team take a turnback year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty of the 2020 season. In other words, it was an opportunity for cadets to separate from the Academy for at least a semester under a provision designed for those facing hardships.

For football players on this year's roster, a turnback gave them a rare fifth year of eligibility, with the ability to graduate in Dec. 2021, instead of May of 2021.

Players like Tre Bugg III, Demonte Meeks, James Jones IV & Jordan Jackson all took advantage of the turnback year and have excelled for the Falcons this season.

For Calhoun, this is something he would like to see happen more often moving forward.

"It would be a piece of cake," explained Calhoun, in his weekly press conference with local media. "I really credit General (Jay) Silveria for recognizing for athletics, to truly be a mission element, as you go into 2020 and beyond, that the possibility has to be a place and it's get to be so much more than just athletics."

Calhoun also mentioned that the idea of turnbacks could be good for cadets that may get injured, want to study abroad, or want more flying hours.

"I think it should be the same way athletically," explained Calhoun. "If the arena is people are flying with jet engines, are you still only going to fly propellers? No, you are going to change. That is what a forward-moving organization does."

The former Falcon quarterback also added that this should be a standard option & be the choice of the cadet.

"Even if it was solely for athletics, that’s okay, if athletics matter at the school," Calhoun said. "I think sometimes, even taking a semester away, it’s amazing truly how transformational it’s been for these guys and their appreciation for the experience at the Air Force Academy."

Calhoun admits change can be hard, but believes that using a turnbacks does not affect the mission at the Air Force Academy. He even doubles down saying, "some of the maturity and the context that you gain only helps somebody become a better-prepared leader when they graduate from the Air Force Academy and ultimately that’s the mission."

Because if Air Force wants to be a dominant Power 5 school moving forward, something like a turnback would help them preserve some players, while also helping them develop more talent & depth.

"If you want to move forward in the 21st-century, in 2021 and beyond, you have to do that," concluded Calhoun. "If not, then what you got to do is you got to get out of a conference and you got a find a way that your schedule things completely different and not only for one activity, but probably some other activities too."