With more than a week until the Black Knights and Midshipmen meet in Baltimore, we're already in prime spirit-spot season.
Soldiers, sailors and fans of both service academies already have taken to YouTube to express themselves through slickly produced hype videos, insults hurled at the opposition, and even, on occasion, Dan Aykroyd. More on him later.
While fans may have to wait a few more days for top service leaders to release their video pieces (and to see whether Adm. Jon Greenert, the chief of naval operations, will raid his goofy-hat closet again), there are plenty of viewing options available.
Here are a half-dozen clips and comments, in no particular order, some of which are part of the Army-Navy game's official spirit spot contest.
1.'Nice ride, Navy guy'
Pro: The unidentified leading man in this 3rd Brigade Combat Team-produced video appears to possess what many past spirit spot stars don't — acting chops. He settles nicely into the over-the-top big-man persona, delivering an almost Rob Riggle-esque performance, only younger and more enlisted.
Con: Any more videos like this and you can expect plenty of headlines like "Army considers adding no-hands pullups to fitness test." Nobody wants that.
2. Ship happens
Pro: Midshipman Rylan Tuohy is no stranger to spirit spots, and his material rarely disappoints. A clever concept, subtle humor and strong ending make this one of his better entries. However, he's not channeling his inner Justin Timberlake this time, so the video probably won't hit 125,000 YouTube views.
3. 'We need the Army war tubas'
Pro: Has anybody ever seen a video featuring a one-star general, a mule outlining military tactics, a cadet carrying a camouflage brass instrument during night operations and an AC/DC song that wasn't entertaining?
Con: It's difficult to picture Gen. George C. Marshall ever saying, "I want an officer for a secret and dangerous mission. Give me those four guys with the big horns and goofy sunglasses."
4. 'They couldn't even beat Yale'
Pro: An original take on the traditional commercial-spoof spot. The actor really makes you believe he's former Army coach Rich Ellerson attempting to act like former Marshall coach Matthew McConaughey attempting to sell you a new car.
Con: Picking on a former Army head coach as a way to taunt the current team may be a bit out of bounds for spirit spots, which are traditionally lighter fare. Besides, if any service academy coach can afford a luxury car, it's this guy.
5. Rocket arms
Pro: The throw-the-ball-around-the-globe-via-editing trick has been part of spirit spots for years, but the 2nd Infantry Division team does a great job with an old classic, even skipping the hard rock or heavy metal soundtrack for a more traditional feel.
Con: It's tough to criticize a video with this much firepower, although there is a significant shortage of war tubas. Probably sequestration's fault.
6. Brush with greatness
Pro: Celebrity endorsements never hurt, especially when they come from comedy icons and not from walking Internet proto-memes.
Con: Aykroyd appears in this video for two seconds, if that. And it appears he's switched sides in the rivalry, at least according to this documentary footage.
Other spirit spots already in circulation include a girl's guide to dating a midshipman, a sing-along aboard the submarine tender Frank Cable, a multinational entry from U.S. Army Africa, and the best tagline of the bunch so far from the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California: "Go Army, Beat Navy. Use tanks."
Voting in the official contest ends Sunday. Watch this space next week for more clips.
Kevin Lilley is the features editor of Military Times.