Navy plays its football games at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland. The classic joke is of an opposing player or coach looking up at the stadium and reading the names of famous battles—Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, Saipan, Bataan, Corregidor, etc. The player or coach comes away impressed, knowing that his team can never beat Navy. “Wow, Navy sure plays a tough schedule!”
The joke has been cited in print since at least 1967, when the line was credited to the captain of the William & Mary football team. Lou Holtz, who was an assistant at William & Mary (1961-1963) and later its head coach (1969-1971), told the joke in 1985, when he was appointed head coach at Notre Dame.
Wikipedia: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium
Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium is an outdoor athletic stadium near the campus of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. It is the home field of the Navy Midshipmen football team, the men’s lacrosse team, and the Chesapeake Bayhawks lacrosse team. Beginning in 2013, the stadium is the home of the Military Bowl, a college football bowl game.
The stadium opened on September 26, 1959, when Navy defeated William & Mary in football, 29–2. The current seating capacity is 34,000.
The stadium serves as a memorial to the Navy and Marine Corps; it is dedicated to those who have served (and will serve) as upholders of the traditions and renown of the Navy and Marine Corps of the United States. The thousands of memorial bench-back and wall plaques are a constant reminder, as well as the list of numerous battles involving the Naval and Marine Corps forces since the early 1900s.
Along the upper tier of the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis are printed the famous battles of those two services: Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, Mindanao, the Solomons, Wake Island, Guam, etc. The first time the captain of William & Mary stepped onto the playing field, he took one look at the long list of farflung places and exclaimed: “Whew, Navy sure plays a tough schedule.”
Los Angeles (CA) Times
That Was a Tough Schedule
December 11, 1985
Now that he has finally made it to Notre Dame, Lou Holtz should find it easier to prepare his teams for games against the Naval Academy.
He said it presented a problem when he was starting out at William & Mary.
“We never believed we could beat the Naval Academy,” he said. “We had better athletes, but it was a mental block. Finally, we convinced our players that we could beat Navy.
“On the balcony of the second tier of Navy’s stadium, they had words printed that said Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, Saipan, Bataan, Corregidor and Coral Sea.
“Our players, who were warming up, looked up and said, ‘Man, we can’t beat these guys.’
“I asked, ‘Why not?’ They said, ‘Look at the schedule they played.’ “
PRACTICE AT NAVY HAS SPECIAL MEANING FOR RAVENS’ JOHN HARBAUGH, STEVE BISCIOTTI
Posted on August 04, 2014 by Joe Platania
NAVY-MARINE CORPS MEMORIAL STADIUM, ANNAPOLIS—According to an old joke, a visiting coach once stood on the 50-yard line at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium during warm-ups and glanced at the mezzanine, where many legendary naval battles are commemorated.
The names—as well as the memories and gravitas that come with them—practically jump off the facade: Iwo Jima, Wake, Midway, Guadalcanal, Pearl Harbor and the rest.
The coach then turned to his assistant, shook his head and said, “Wow, Navy sure plays a tough schedule.”