The United States Air Force was looking at three locations for their new academy in the June of 1954. As we all know Air Force made a home on a stretch of land near Colorado Springs, but not before two spots in the Midwest were given serious consideration. If the opportunities were better the Falcons could have easily landed around Lake Geneva in Linn, Wisconsin, or in the St. Louis suburb of Alton, Illinois.
Air Force’s decision to place their academy in Colorado over their Midwestern options has had a major impact on today’s game of college football. Even Air Force’s program would be in a difference place, and I’m not just talking about location.
Had Air Force been located in the Midwest would they have felt more pressure to compete on a higher level, at a level that would’ve been on a par with the Big Ten schools?
Let’s not forget the most interesting aspect. An Air Force team located in Wisconsin would’ve made today’s Dairyland more than the Badgers’ state. When Air Force fielded their first football team in 1956, the state of Wisconsin had two major programs in Marquette and Wisconsin. But since 1961, the Badgers have been the state’s only college football team of national relevance.
An Air Force squad in Linn, Wis., would’ve been located only 60 miles south east of the Badgers in Madison. It would’ve been a perfect geographic rivalry. Especially when you factor that Linn and the surrounding Lake Geneva area is practically a part of the Chicago metro area.
The Air Force Academy actually played the Badgers once. Back in 1979, the Falcons traveled to Madison and failed to score any points in a 38-0 shutout loss to Wisconsin. Maybe it wouldn’t have been that great of a rivalry.
The $14-million dollar price tag on the acreage in Linn was a deterrent to the USAF.
The other Midwestern spot that the USAF was looking at was located in Alton, Illinois; a place that is best known as the birthplace of jazz legend Miles Davis.
In the end, a game at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium against Missouri in 1970, would be the closest the Falcons would ever come to playing in Alton. The Falcons won that game 37-14; a signature victory during their run to the Sugar Bowl that season.
It was reported that the USAF received 600 applications from towns interested in becoming an Air Force town.
Colorado Springs won an incredible competition.