The Bishin Cutter wrote:
The appeal of the SA's aren't vastly overblown when you consider the sorts who go through them. It's the same logic as wanting UVA when VT is more popular in the state. UVA is a Beltway school. AFA and USNA isn't just for the undergraduate programs...it's who they train at the graduate level that make them more "known:" engineers, doctors, etc. It's who pass through them that make them popular.
The service academies do not have graduate programs. Never have. The services all have various post-graduate programs, but none are located at or connected to the academies.
The national appeal of the service academies is vastly overstated on fora. I have worked for the DoD for 32 years and for 23 of them I was TDY most of the year to military bases across the nation and world. The enlisted who make up the bulk of the service personnel don't car much about the academies. Most are fans of schools back home or their own alma maters. Most of the officers are ROTC or OCS and really dislike the academies. Of course, there are exceptions.
I am anything but an AFA hater. I grew up in the region and AFA is one of my favorite teams. The only major college game I have attended was and AFA game. Boy, that was a long time ago. George Mira was the Miami quarterback in that game.
This reminds me, in 1984 I traveled down from PA to Navy with a friend for the South Carolina--Navy game. We met up with some friends from S.C. and others from elsewhere. Then So. Car. was ranked #2 in the country. On the cold, overcast, windy day, So. Car. got upset by a beforehand, dismal record Navy
team. The #1 team (think it was Nebraska, hard to remember) also lost. Adding to oddity of the late season weekend, a winless Duke team pulled an upset.
The Navy folks in Annaoplis were real friendly. One midshipman from Ohio kept talking about Ohio State and was a huge fan of OSU. It has stuck with me till this day, he was not focused on what Navy could achieve, and his passion was with Ohio State. So, being a strong fan of a school "back home" does have merit.
Of course, folks want to identify with winners, and passion for the "home" teams that have been a part of their culture and exposure is natural. Institutional types and where their student come from and their focus, does impact. That noted, the SA's are associated with national pride for many, and would have significant value for certain conferences--perhaps outside the big power ones. So much depends on developing a decent reputation for winning, and how TV/media shall market it.