I was a senior cadet at the time and everyone I know was shocked when Parcells resigned to take the job of offensive coordinator for the NY Giants. After several terrible seasons under Ben Martin, no one expected Parcells to turn things around in just one or two seasons. As far as I remember the whole AF community was excited to have a younger, more energetic coach with a vision for creating a better football program. I don’t remember any rumblings at all about Parcells performance as the AF coach.We actually based that sentence on an internet article I found during the research so it could be a complete fabrication. Sorry for the mistake. The Air Force fan actually has more to add to this story that paints Parcells as an even bigger jerk in the grand scheme of things than we initially thought:
Parcells sudden departure seemed a bigger betrayal to us than might have been the case at more normal schools for one reason: Parcells demanded a commitment from his players that was more consequential than would be the case at other schools.Parcells resigned on March 2, 1979 from the Air Force Academy, which wasn't exactly ideal considering Spring Football starts up around this time every year. Hatfield was named his successor a day later either out of desperation or by plan by the Air Force athletic department.
A lot of folks don’t know it but when you go to the service academies you can leave any time before the beginning of your third year without a service commitment. Once you enter your 3rd year, you must pay the military back by serving a tour as an enlisted airman, sailor or soldier commensurate with the amount of time you continue to attend. Of course, if you graduate you serve your full commitment as an officer.
Anyway, several of my football playing friends – upon reaching the beginning of our junior year – came to the conclusion that the military wasn’t for them and started the process of resigning. When Parcells heard about it he gave the entire team a lecture on loyalty, on not quitting and letting the team down, on how he was there for the long-haul and expected them to commit as well, and so on.
After shaming these guys into staying on (and incurring the service commitment) he left about 4 months later to go to the NFL! According to my football buddies, he left so quickly he didn’t find the time to address his loyal team. Needless to say there was irritation at the apparent hypocrisy of Parcell’s actions.
Thanks to Phil of the Air Force Academy for clearing up that mistake.