Archive for August 2009
You can’t get caught up over where the guy you’re lining up across from went to school, even if he went to Florida or USC and you went to, say, Wheaton.
That’s the basic premise under which Andy Studebaker has played his NFL career so far. Entering his second season, Studebaker is trying to make the Kansas City Chiefs roster as a linebacker. He was picked up by the Chiefs midseason last year after he was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles out of Wheaton.
Studebaker is the subject of a video interview on the Chiefs’ Web site. Currently it’s the third video in this playlist — eventually you’ll probably have to scroll down farther.
No, this isn’t a listing of the 238 teams in order — only Kickoff subscribers get that. But Keith McMillan and I thought it might be interesting to take you guys through the process of how we rank teams, discuss why we do so, and the like.
Why do some teams make big jumps from where they ended last year to where they start this year?
How do you rank a brand-new team anywhere but last?
Why do you guys like Panera Bread so much?
We answer those questions and more in the 2009 season’s first Around the Nation podcast.
For those of you who are new, Keith and I sit down, usually by phone, every week and wrap up the week that was, spotlighting the interesting trends and giving you our first analysis of the past week’s games. On Saturday and Sunday we report the news; on Monday we analyze it in the Around the Nation Podcast.
You can load the podcast page in iTunes or can also get this and any of our future Around the Nation podcasts automatically by subscribing to this RSS feed: http://www.d3football.com/dailydose/?feed=podcast
Or you can click the play button below to listen.
I know Wabash isn’t the only program to do something like this — in fact, I interviewed one coach for Kickoff (coming next week!) who does something similar with his program, even giving up a day of practice to get it done. But reading Matt Hudson’s take on the seniors’ retreat to West Virginia seemed interesting and worth sharing.
It gives us an opportunity to talk about the upcoming season, and really bond with the guys that you came in with. After all, my class started with about 60 guys, were down to around 35 after one year, and now we sit with 20 after inheriting 2 from last year’s class (a great thing, because they’re both studs). So since we’ve all been through football together for the last 3 years, we all have great relationships, and I think it shows, both on and off the field.
Follow the link above for the full post.
Summer is basically over here at D3sports.com, and we’re working hard to get the 2009-10 seasons ready to roll. Summer is the only time I really feel like I can sit down and do some of the back-end stuff on the site that is in my job description, specifically upgrading the message board software and the blogs.
This year’s upgrades didn’t change too much of what you folks as readers will see and what you’ll interact with, but in my non-techie reading of it, it looks like it will make the blog operate more efficiently. If so, that means one important thing for readers — we may not have to take it down so often on the busiest days on the site. I’m also hopeful that it will clean up the annoying bug that occurs after login, where a reader doesn’t usually see a comment box unless they hit the refresh button.
We’ve done some tidying up on this blog, changed the look just a smidge, added some (hopefully) useful things to the sidebar, such as our latest Twitter post and the five most recent comments. We’ll keep an eye out for more interesting bells and/or whistles to put there as well.
The rest of our summer has been spent trying to get the long-overdue redesign of D3hoops.com into shape. We have a lot of older pages that have information that we don’t want to lose. I actually found someone to put 11 years’ worth of the Team of the Week into a database so we could display those pages more easily, and we’re doing the same for football’s Team of the Week as well.
The folks at D3soccer.com are putting together a Top 25 poll for the first time and are getting their voter panels together. We’ll also have team pages on D3soccer.com this year for the first time, and hope to have those live within the next week or so.
D3baseball.com has had some great content this summer, with Travis Cross, a Chapman student, joining Jim Dixon’s staff to provide some news stories and features. We are looking long and hard at getting all of the baseball scores on the site this year, not just for the 20-some conferences that use the PrestoSports system.
Our jobs board, D3jobs.com, has had some great postings in the past year and we will continue with that. D3sports.com continues to be a work in progress. We’ve been strong into Twitter for the past six months or so, starting near the end of the basketball season. If you are on Twitter, I strongly recommend following @d3football, @d3hoops and @d3baseball — often the first word on breaking news will go out via Twitter, and in many cases, we’ll send out interesting stories or small news tidbits over that medium that may not make it elsewhere on the sites at all.
I also hope you will become a fan of D3football.com and D3hoops.com on Facebook.
As Keith McMillan touched on his 2008 season review, I have a theory that tries to make sense of who beats whom during the Division III football season. Instead of thinking about the landscape in terms of regions or conferences, I break it into three tiers.
â€¢ Tier I are the elite teams who are likely to finish as national champion. This is a very small group.
â€¢ Tier II has great teams who will have great seasons. They will likely win their conference and usually go a couple rounds in the playoffs. But, unless everything breaks for them, they will not win a national championship.
Come playoff time, one or two Tier IIs will be upset by a Tier III. Most Tier IIs will knock each other off in the early playoff rounds or lose to a Tier I, often by 14+ points. If a Tier II team plays a tremendous game and Tier I team plays poorly, an upset is possible.
â€¢ Tier III teams are everyone else who makes the playoffs or just misses it. They are good teams and their accomplishments should not be diminished. But, unless they have a very favorable draw, they will be eliminated in the first two weeks of the playoffs. Tier III might beat Tier II if it plays a tremendous game, but the same Tier III is highly unlikely to do that twice in the same postseason. And they definitely don’t beat Tier I.
So why bring this up before teams even break training camp? Why worry think about the playoffs at all when there are hundreds of good stories to follow between now and the Stagg Bowl on December 19? Because the fun of this theory lies in predicting which teams go in which tiers and that changes every year, particularly for Tiers II and III. And that, like the Top 25 Poll released today, is a matter of debate.
Based on my preseason ballot, I’d break them down like this.
â€¢ Tier I: Mount Union, UW-Whitewater
Recent seasons make it easy to slot the Purple Raiders and Warhawks here and they stand alone.
â€¢ Tier II: Mary Hardin-Baylor, UW-Stevens Point, Hardin-Simmons
These teams could beat a Tier I if they play great and the Tier I stumbles. That’s what separates them from the teams in Tier III who aren’t beating Mount Union or UW-Whitewater. UW-Stevens Point is an easy choice since they return a lot from the team that beat UW-Whitewater last year. Mary Hardin-Baylor hasn’t gotten over the Warhawk hump, but they’ve been competitive. Since the games between teams at this level should be competitive, Hardin-Simmons gets the nod.
A couple more teams will rise to this level, like Wheaton, Wartburg and Willamette did last year. But the first two lose a lot on defense and the third a lot on offense. And if you ask me which teams could upset the two purple powerhouses — and that’s a requirement to be in this tier — right now it’s three’s company.
â€¢ Tier III: Everyone else in the Top 25 or receiving votes
This does not mean every other team will have the same level of success. And there will be some wonderful stories at this level that will help define the season ahead. But this is how I see the landscape now.
You know, given all the games that have been played.