Skip Root is captain of the Navy ice hockey team, but a quick search of his roots reveals an even more direct connection to the Mid's Saturday football opponent, William and Mary.
Root's father, Jim, is the head coach of the Indians from Williamsburg. Since William and Mary had an open date last week, it was only natural for dad to spend Saturday in Pittsburgh, where his son was rooting for Navy against the powerful Panthers.
Scouting is not permitted by NCAA rules, unless the scout pays for the trip out of his own pocket. This was just a parental visit, according to Root, and since school funds were not involved there was, of course, no reason why Root shouldn't take a few notes at Saturday's game.
"I saw them against Pitt," Root said, "and anybody that can score 17 point; against that football team has got to be good.Their ability to move the football against a good Pitt defense gives me the most concern."
Navy coach George Welsh conceded Root's right to pay his own way or "he might have been on a recruiting trip, just driving through. But he was at our motel, I think that took a lot of guts. We have his son here. He wants all the advantages, right?"
It seems the team was staying at a different motel from the brigade of midshipmen and Welsh was curious as to why his opposite number was Rooting around.
A year ago, William and Mary had a little lamb to kick around, spoiling Navy's homecoming by a 21-13 score. Welsh is trusting that his players haven't forgotten the humiliation.
"What they did to us last year, that should be tremendous incentive," Welsh said. "They made us look bad."
Jim Kruis, the Indians' tailback, outrushed Navy's entire team with a 171-yard total. He has been injured this year, suffering from a pinched nerve in his neck and a couple of hip pointers, but Root said the week's layoff has helped both Kruis and ailing quarterback Tom Rozantz (ribs and knee) to mend.
"It was a great aid to us," Root said of the week off (and Pittsburgh visit?). "We were very physically banged and bumped. But our health is excellent now. We're at full go."
Navy took a shellacking on the scoreboard at Pittsburgh, but Welsh said the Mids "survived better physically than against Michigan. Of course, we couldn't catch those Pitt guys to hit them."
The Mids' chief concern is the right knee of defensive end Ed Reid. First injured against Connecticut, Reid's knee was whacked again at Pittsburgh and he has not practiced this week.
Navy took Monday off for the first time this season. Welsh figuring the succession of difficult games demanded it. There has been no other noticeable letup, however.
"William and Mary has a tailback that can beat you, a fullback that can beat you and a quarterback that can beat you," Welsh said. "We're going to have to play well to win."