President presents Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy to Falcons
April 28 2023
President Joe Biden presented the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy to the Falcon football team this afternoon (April 28, 2023) at the White House.
Head Coach Troy Calhoun thanked the President for the honor.
“How grateful we are,” he said during the brief ceremony. “It’s an honor to be here.”
Team co-captains Haaziq Daniels and Brad Roberts presented President Biden with a Falcon jersey and a custom helmet at the conclusion of the event.
The Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, emblematic of Department of Defense Service Academy football supremacy, is the creation of former Air Force Academy Athletic Director George Simler [Gina Simler’s father-in-law!]. During his tenure as AD (1957-1960) and the decade that followed, Army and Navy were reluctant to travel to Colorado’s altitude to face the Falcons. They did play Air Force in locations such as New York City, Chicago, Washington D.C, and Baltimore, but these games were not regularly scheduled.
In the early 1970s, Simler proposed that the three schools play each other every year, with the winner earning a valuable prize – the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. Teams would alternate home and away contests, so Air Force could be sure that either Army or Navy would visit Falcon Stadium each fall. (Of course, these inter-service games have still been played at neutral sites on occasion since then.)
The academies and their parent services agreed to the proposal, and the round-robin tournament started in 1972. Sadly, the first game in the series was played six weeks after its father, Lieutenant General George Simler, was killed in a T-38 crash at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. The Falcons played in the inaugural CIC Trophy game on Oct. 21, 1972, losing 21-17 to Navy at Falcon Stadium. Later that autumn, Army defeated both of its rivals, becoming the first academy to earn the Trophy.
Air Force was rather slow on the uptake, not winning the Trophy for the first time until 1982. On Nov. 6 of that year, the Falcons beat Army by the score of 27-9 at West Point to finally capture the elusive prize, having already beaten Navy.
After that late start in securing the CIC Trophy, the Falcons have made up for lost time. Counting the 2022 victory, Air Force has earned it a record 21 times. Navy follows with 16 victories, while Army trails with nine. In the event of a tie (each team winning one and losing one), the Trophy is not awarded, and physical possession remains with the most recent outright winner.
As for the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy itself, it stands 2½ feet tall and weighs 170 pounds. The Association of Graduates and its counterparts at West Point and Annapolis jointly sponsor the massive piece of hardware.
The President of the United States, in his role as the Commander-in-Chief, regularly presents the Trophy to representatives of the victorious team and school. Most often the presentation is made at the White House, although on occasion the president has presented the Trophy elsewhere. For example, President Ronald Reagan presented the 1983 Trophy after delivering the commencement address during the graduation ceremony for the Class of ’84 in Falcon Stadium. Similarly, President Bill Clinton, who had the pleasure of presenting the trophy to Air Force a record six times, awarded the 1998 Trophy while at the Academy to speak at the Class of ‘99’s graduation.