Weekend Plans: Army AD Mike Buddie Ready For First Navy Game
This will be no ordinary weekend for Army AD MIKE BUDDIE. Not only will Saturday's game against Navy at Lincoln Financial Field be his first as head of West Point athletics, it will be his first Army-Navy football game in any capacity. "Ironically, I've never been able to get a ticket," Buddie said. As an MLB pitcher whose career included a World Series win with the '98 Yankees, Buddie is no stranger to a big-game atmosphere. But there are big games, and then there is Army-Navy, a contest that transcends stats, records, bowl implications, even sports itself. Buddie: "Beating Navy permeates everything we do. ... I don't think I fully grasped it until my press conference when I got this job: the amount of people from my life who reached out and said it's the most special event they've ever been to."
TRAVEL & PREP: The team gets a police escort from state to state. I'll probably just drive down with my family and have to sit in traffic a little bit. Oddly enough, I've only been to Philadelphia once, so I'm looking forward to being a little bit of a tourist. I might come back and forth, depending on if my daughter can miss school. It's just over a two-hour drive. I have two kids, 19 and 15. The 15-year-old will be there, but the 19-year-old is in South Africa on a study abroad program.
THE RUN-UP: We try to get in front of our loyal fanbase as much as possible. There are some public appearances where my counterpart at Navy (AD CHET GLADCHUK) and I will both be involved. There's also the personal piece of it, where I'm able to invite some of the people who have shepherded me on this career path, like former Wake Forest AD RON WELLMAN and his wife, LINDA, or JOE and KIM GIRARDI. When you've got 80,000 fans that are going to be in one city for a four-day window, you've got to capitalize on as many meetings, thank you's, dinners and lunches, etc. I'm trying to figure out, do I spend 20 minutes at everything, or do I pick the four things that probably need a two-hour window? And it will probably be a little bit of both.
....AND THE BOOT: On gameday, I'll be down on the field early, taking in all the fanfare, the great history and traditions. You balance that with PRESIDENT TRUMP being there, and all the Army leadership. So I'll make sure I have those conversations. But once the game starts, I like to find a corner on the sidelines where I can watch the first two or three series. Then I'll go upstairs and spend time in my suite, where there will be a lot of Army donors, some personal friends and family. I'll bounce around to seven or eight other suites and the club area to make sure I can say hello to all those fans who've made the effort to travel. Hopefully, by the end of the fourth quarter, I'll be back down on the field celebrating an Army win.
ALL IN PERSPECTIVE: These kids don't get a Super Bowl share, they get bragging rights. And then, they will be going on and serving with a lot of the kids they're competing against. It's got that unique angle of service. And the respect the teams show to each other when the game is over is refreshing. My predecessor, BOO CORRIGAN (now N.C. State AD), and I have spoken several times since I took over the reins. And Chet Gladchuk and I were able to catch up at Patriot League meetings about a month ago. They've both told me to make sure I soak it all in. You can get caught up in, 'Well, the flyover is going to be 11 seconds late.' Or, 'Two of our donors didn't get parking passes.' All of that is important, but at some point, you need to step back, look up at the scoreboard and really understand what you're witnessing.
AFTER THE GAME: From a football standpoint, the coaching carousel always makes you nervous when you've got a coach like JEFF MONKEN. So I'll sit down with him at the end of the year and make sure we're addressing areas we need to improve to make his job easier and give him the opportunity to be more successful. Then, we've got a big facility upgrade we need to start raising money for: renovating the stands at Michie Stadium. So that will be a big push.