A rebranding plan for Army athletics could mean the end of "Black Knights" as an official team name as early as next spring.
"We really want to make sure we have something that identifies regionally, nationally and internationally," Army athletic director Boo Corrigan told the (Middletown, New York) Times Herald-Record last week. He didn't speculate on possible alternatives.
An Army athletics spokesman said Corrigan had nothing to add to his published remarks, but confirmed an announcement on rebranding, which could include a name change, could come in March or April, as the spring intercollegiate athletics season comes to a close.
"Black Knights" has been the official nickname of all Army teams since 1999, but its roots go far deeper, with New York sportswriters calling the football club "The Black Knights of the Hudson" as early as the 1920s. That name would go along with the traditional "Cadets" moniker for most of Army football's history.
"When I was getting recruited ... it was almost interchangeable between the two," said Alex Moore, a captain with the 2002 Army football team whose first year at West Point was the first under the name change. "Personally, I like more the Black Knights. Cadets are great ... but I'd like a name that really encompasses the entire Army."
"Black Knights" picked up traction in the mid-1940s, during Army's run atop the college football landscape. The team went unbeaten from 1944 to 1946, cranked out back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners (Doc Blanchard in 1945, followed by Glenn Davis) and outdrew the NFL's Giants when playing in New York City.
National identification wasn't much of an issue at that point, with the team's record speaking for itself.
"It was kind of a metaphor for the U.S. Army's strength," said Jack Cavanaugh, whose half-century in journalism includes a stint covering Army football for the New York Times. He said he ran into the nickname issue while writing "Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside," a look at the Blanchard-Davis teams during the final days and aftermath of World War II, while poring through contemporary newspaper accounts that varied between team identifiers.
"Personally, I like 'Cadets' better," he said.
Rumors of a switch back to Cadets started earlier this year, Moore said, and while he might prefer Black Knights, he's fine with whatever change gets made — on one condition.
"I'm all for it if it reverses the streak against Navy," he said. "We had more success with that when we were the Cadets."