Class acts endure at Army-Navy game

Updated: December 2, 2004, 9:28 AM ET
By Beano Cook | ESPN Insider
In 1985, ABC televised SMU and Oklahoma nationally and at the same time, CBS gave America Army vs. Navy. Oklahoma was fighting for the national title, which the Sooners would eventually win by beating Penn State in the Orange Bowl.

This ratings battle was not close: America easily preferred watching Army-Navy . . . . just like it does every year, and it's easy to understand why.

The American public has become somewhat skeptical of the supposed student-athletes – not all, but some – who play for the Top 10 teams. Maybe they'd be more aptly described as athletes-students in most upper-level conferences. Regardless, people know when they're watching the Army-Navy game, it's a game between students who happen to play football.

Good luck getting tickets for this one. You can't. The fans are in their seats long before those at other stadiums, where too many – alumni and students alike– are more interested in the pre-game tailgate than what time the game actually kicks off.

It's a thrill to see both teams run out onto the field, and the respect for the opponent – too often lost in football, especially the NFL – is at its peak. You can't turn a game on anymore, let alone a highlight show, without seeing a crazy end zone dance, and players standing over each other and taunting.

You won't see that in Army vs. Navy.

Beano Cook

College Football
Carroll H. "Beano" Cook joined ESPN in March 1986 and served as a college football studio commentator and occasional sideline reporter, in addition to offering college football commentary on ESPN Radio. He died in October 2012.