NCAA NEWS: Touring with the troops

When football head coach Randy Shannon talks about being in a war and invading opponent territory this May, it won’t be the same old sports analogy.

Shannon and four other NCAA football head coaches will be visiting Middle East military bases as part of a first-of-its-kind tour with Armed Forces Entertainment May 20 through 26.

With a daughter serving in the military in the Far East, Shannon particularly appreciates the importance of the trip.

“It means a lot,” he said. “She experienced a lot of things in the military that we talked about, so it means a lot to her.”

Shannon will be joined by Auburn’s Tommy Tuberville, Georgia’s Mark Richt, Notre Dame’s Charlie Weis and Yale’s Jack Siedlecki. The coaches will coach flag football teams consisting of military personnel and stage meet-and-greet sessions and symposia, where audiences will be able to meet the coaches and ask questions.

“We love the soldiers and their willingness to sacrifice for our country,” Richt, who also has family ties to several military branches, said in a statement. “We want to support them not only in prayer but also in person. I look forward to meeting as many of our men and women in the armed forces as possible during the visit.”

College basketball coaches, including Maryland’s Gary Williams and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, have taken part in similar trips recently but this will mark the first time college football coaches have visited troops with Armed Forces Entertainment.

“It’s an opportunity to go out and support the military and everything they stand for and what they’re doing,” Shannon said.

The tour takes place the week leading up to Memorial Day, giving the coaches the opportunity to represent the college football community in honoring members of the armed services as the nation remembers their fallen comrades.

“We are proud to bring this tour to our military men and women, and my hat goes off to these coaches for spending their downtime with our troops,” said Air Force Colonel Edward Shock, Chief of Armed Forces Entertainment, in a statement.

Shannon added: “I think myself and the other coaches who are going really believe in supporting the United States armed forces and we’re excited about going.”

For more information on the tour, visit

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