The ceremonial coin-flip for Saturday's Army-Navy game will be historic.
The silver dollar that will be used was one that had been set aside for President John F. Kennedy to flip before the 1963 Army-Navy game. Kennedy, of course, was assassinated in Dallas eight days before. The game was postponed and played the following Saturday in Philadelphia at the insistence of the Kennedy family.
Fifty years later, Army aims to make history of another kind. With Navy riding the longest winning streak in the 114-year-old series (11 games), the Black Knights are desperate for a victory, and might need one to save the job of coach Rich Ellerson.
Not that Ellerson has performed poorly in the annual rivalry game. His first two cracks at the Mids were decided by 14 points, a respectable departure from the previous seven defeats which had come by an average margin of 29 points.
Ellerson's last two attempts have been even more competitive, 27-21, in 2011 and 17-13 last year, when Navy needed late heroics from quarterback Keenan Reynolds to get the lead and a fumble recovery by nose guard Barry Dabney to preserve it after the Black Knights had driven to the Mids' 14.
It was another close-call loss for Army, which appears destined to be Ellerson's epitaph. Of their last nine games decided by 14 or fewer points, the Black Knights have lost them all.
This year has been a tale of what might have been. Injuries have limited a pair of 1,000-yard rushers from last year to a combined 795 yards. Last year's top two returning tacklers played a combined 10 games. Four different players started at middle linebacker, including career scout team player Colby Miller. Army even started a 6-foot, 189-pound defensive lineman.
"Did I do something offensive to a gypsy somewhere along the line? I don't know," Ellerson recently joked. "I feel like we are going to try to sneak into the stadium and sacrifice a goat at the 50-yard line."
Even with a patchwork lineup, Army has remained disciplined and found a way to compete with many of the teams on its schedule. With some luck the Black Knights would be going to a bowl game. But consistently coming up short in the fourth quarter has taken its toll on the program. And it doesn't help to see Navy consistently win similar games.
Saturday is Army's chance to reverse the trend, make some history, and perhaps save the job of its head coach.