Around the Nation Podcast: Stagg Bowl XL preview

The crowd had something to get excited about in Alliance.
Photo by Ryan Coleman,

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A Salem regular and a Salem newbie will meet Friday night for the 2012 Division III football national championship, as No. 1 Mount Union will face No. 4 St. Thomas in yet another matchup of purple programs. Could St. Thomas someday be a Purple Power? Shoot, can St. Thomas even beat Mount Union this week? Pat Coleman and Keith McMillan discuss in this week’s Around the Nation podcast.

They each talk about what they saw in Saturday’s semifinals, and in fact, Keith gets to turn the tables on Pat and ask the questions for once. Why is this St. Thomas team more successful than the ones preceding it, despite what seems like less star power? Did Kevin Burke perform well under pressure against Mary Hardin-Baylor? Was Nate Wara affected by the broken pinky finger? What’s next for UMHB? Plus, a lot of talk about the two head coaches and a sales pitch to get fans to come to Salem.

Updated bracket, playoff features

(Disclaimer: Although the podcast is sponsored by the City of Salem this year, that’s not part of the advertising agreement. If you remember past year’s podcasts, we did the same thing then, too!)

We talk about that and more (Gagliardi Trophy favorites, anyone?) in this week’s Around the Nation Podcast, sponsored by the City of Salem, hosts of Stagg Bowl XL. Tickets on sale now!

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D3reports postgame show

Here’s this week’s reports, highlight packages and postgame interviews.

Also, the Mount Union postgame news conference (audio only).

And this week’s photo galleries from our friends at

48 thoughts on “Around the Nation Podcast: Stagg Bowl XL preview

  1. Great podcast guys!

    I was at the game Saturday in Alliance and it was one for the ages!! Not because Mount ultimately won but, because both teams played with an intensity that you don’t normally see at the DIII level.

    You talk about the turnovers that were “earned” by UMHB vs “given” by Mount. Skilliter’s muffed punt was actually earned by UMHB. On 4th down and I believe 6? near midfield, UMHB called timeout. Prior to the timeout, it looked like they would go for the first down so Mount left their base defense in. UMHB had huddled a large group of players at the sidelines and, when play resumed, their punt team broke out of that huddle, leaving mount confused. Skilliter quickly ran back to return the punt but was unprepared. I thought that was a great coaching move.

    We sat in the UMHB cheering section near the 40 yard line and I thought the UMHB fans were, overall, very classy! They cheered extremely hard but were respectful and, I heard many times, how this was the best team UMHB had faced and it was a shame that these two teams were paired in the same side of the bracket. We talked with some fans during the game and, other than a couple of testy exchanges between some fans from both teams (it was an emotional game), I was impressed with both the number of fans either flying or driving from Texas to Ohio and their level of enthusiasm.

    Pat mentioned he thought Burke looked rattled and I think it was true but, it started well before the mid second to mid third quarter. Mount had a 3rd and 1 or 2 at midfield late in the first quarter or early 2nd. Lined up in shotgun formation, the ball sailed over Burke’s head and it ended up being kicked around until it went out of bounds at Mount’s 20 yd line. From that point until that long drive that ended with the Julius Moore TD pass on the first play of the fourth quarter, Mount was out of sync. Whether because Mount just not playing well or great UMHB defense, I don’t know for sure. I think it was a bit of both.

    One final point I would like to make. Keith mentioned that students and fans ran on to the field at the end of the game in celebration of the victory and that doesn’t happen often in Alliance because the games generally aren’t real close. Very true.

    The other thing I noticed was how long the UMHB players stayed on the field after the game! They were talking with the Mount players, you could see them hugging each other, almost exhausted. Both sides of the field knew they put 110% of themselves on that field and, the mutual respect was clearly visible. Heck, I was exhausted with the roller-coaster of emotions we all experienced watching the game!!

    Thanks again for your expert analysis and we all look forward to what should be a great game this Friday. Best of luck to both teams!!

  2. I also thought Burke got a little rattled at times. Dont get me wrong without him Mount wouldn’t have won. I think it had a lot to do with UMHB team speed. They were jumping routes all day. They were every bit as fast as Mount.

  3. I’m guessing others will chime in about last week’s predictions and your lack of prediction this week.

    At least in my small feeble mind, I was more correct last week in my predictions in saying that the UMHB-UMU game would be the “closer” of the two games played. While my prediction of UMHB coming out on top didn’t pan out, it really was a great game.

    I also said that St. Thomas would come out of the chute hitting on all cylinders and that Oshkosh wouldn’t be able to make up the ground. This game I nailed.

    My prediction for next week’s game is going for the upset (being a true-blue MIAC fan after all) St. Thomas 28 Mt. Union 24.

    Good luck to both teams!

  4. I am tied for 85th place on the D3 bracket challenge!! I just need St. Thomas to win and I figure I would end up in the top 10 probobly. Would be cool to see how many other people chose the tommies, does anyone know? I just hope I can watch the game Friday, should be awesome!!

  5. Never ever under estimate your opponent!

    St. Thomas is 14-0 for a good reason.

    I see the Purple Raiders victorious and finally getting this senior class a championship ring!

    Mount Union-35

    St. Thomas- 21

  6. although a new team is in the final game, it establishes that Purple is by far the dominant color in DIII football 🙂

  7. Where can I find post game interviews with UMHB. I have listened to the MU post game audio but can’t seem to find the UMHB one.

  8. Kevin Burke just took time to adjust to the incredible speed of MHB. Mount Union had not played another team that was even close to MHB in that department. Burke did his usual scrambles, but this time the MHB defenders were there. His only bad read or lapse was on the interception for a touchdown play. Mount should be the faster team on Friday night.

  9. GoCru – I don’t believe the Stagg Bowl score will be that lopsided. St. Thomas beat some very good teams in the MIAC during the year and all they faced in the playoffs. That being said, I do predict a Mount victory (a touchdown or two at the most).

    I do have a question/comment as it relates to another point raised in the podcast. It was mentioned that Jasper Collins probably has a shot to play on Sundays next year (following in the footsteps of Pierre Garcon and Cecil Shorts III) as a receiver. What ever happened to Derek Stanley? I remember what a threat he was for UWW during his playing days and Stagg Bowls. I believe he got drafted. Did he latch on and, if so, where is he now?

    I would also think that Javicz Jones, Charles Dieseul, Nick Driskill, and possibly one of the UMU linemen (Favazzo?) may have a shot also. This does not discount the talents of other DIII players but these quickly came to mind.

    If any or all of these players make a Sunday roster and receive playing time, the exposure to DIII football, increase in recruiting talent pool, etc. will be a tremendous boon to the competitiveness of the division!

    Good luck to both teams Friday and let’s hope for an exciting game that attracts eyeballs!!

  10. St. Thomas will win 28-24.. Both teams control games on fast starts and I believe this one will be a pound the ball st. thomas game and a few quick scores by both teams and a great defensive second half. when Bethel lost to St. Thomas 37-0 i believe it was all in bethels head, the fast start just frusterated themselves. The only thing is Mount Union is just fine being down 14-0 early

  11. The only thing I wish he would have added to his postgame review was that Oshkosh still had a shot to win the game, they had the ball inside the 20 four times that they came away with no points. The game was more even then the subpar announcers from espn3 said it was, after the 10:48 mark in the first quarter, the score? 14-14. Give St. Thomas the credit for doing what nobody else did in the playoffs this year and holding on to an early lead, but don’t act like Oshkosh was a bunch of deadbeats.

  12. Agreed. Couple things I had on my notepad but had to skip because of time was how UWO missed on converting turnovers into points and the 2013 outlook for UWO. At over an hour, I didn’t feel like I could start another subject. 🙁

  13. Mount will score fast and force St Thomas to get out their game plan. Mounts “D” will shut them down. Once they start to force it Mount will score fast and often. Could be like the 1997 Championship.

    Mount 54
    St Thomas 14

  14. If mounts D plays the way it did in the 4 th qtr against Baylor it could get ugly.but ya never know it’s a championship game and if mount has 5 tournovers who knows.

  15. The Raiders need to have that same fourth quarter (as in the UMHB game)intensity thru the entire football game against the Tommies. The win over the Cru was pretty emotional and hope that the energy can be repeated. I don’t anticipate that St. Thomas can match UMHB’s speed which gives Mount the edge. I expect the Raiders to take better care of the football, too. Still have to give the Tommies a full measure of respect for fighting their way to Salem.

  16. @grantbethelmn: I can give you that number right now:
    Champions listed by Bracket Challenge entry:
    Mount Union 365 (59.06%)
    Mary Hardin-Baylor 72 (11.75%)
    Linfield 40 (6.47%)
    UW-Oshkosh 32 (5.17%)
    St. Thomas 24 (3.88%)
    Wesley 14 (2.26%)
    North Central (Ill.) 11 (1.80%)

    We looked up selection numbers for the first time this year and might revisit over on the prediction process in past brackets (soccer, hockey, basketball and football) and see how football trended over the years with the challenges on in the years prior during the off-season.

  17. raiderdude,
    I’m not knocking UST as they are undefeated. However, by looking at their confrence and schedule, I have to belive MU will win big. For MU to be down to UMHB and to come back against that defense, shocked me. Noboby has done that to UMHB before.

    Before the 4-1 play, I was thinking, if UMHB converts then UMHB carries the momentum and will possibly hang on to win. When they failed to make it, I knew we were in trouble. That was a huge momentum shift to MU and the rest is history.

  18. Yep, don’t think it will be close. In my eyes the championship was played in Alliance last week but I could be wrong.

  19. What impressed me about UMHB was their team speed, size, and coaching. Very disciplined as well.

    Unfortunately, they lost a bit of discipline in the fourth quarter. They played not to lose and lost their aggressiveness. Very conservative play calling, particularly in the fourth quarter. From the point of the blocked punt, they lost their edge and had doubt in their minds that they would actually win. Momentum is a bigger factor than talent at times.

  20. I dont understand the comment above that “by looking at USTs conference and schedule, I have to believe MU will win big.”

    Are people forgetting that top to bottom, the MIAC is probably the best conference in DIII (possibly 2nd to WIAC, but not this year). The MIAC is a much tougher conference than MU’s conference. In addition, UST has beaten THREE WIAC teams. Although UST hasn’t beaten UMHB, I would argue that UST’s schedule has been much more difficult than MU’s. People are underestimating St. Thomas just because this website’s poll has them at #4 instead of #2. I see the result in this game as being up in the air, although I think there is a slightly higher chance of MU winning big than UST winning big.

    One other comment: Does anyone know why the Stagg bowl continues to be at Salem stadium, when there are much bigger and better stadiums/locations?

  21. I don’t know , 41-17, but might be closer than the final score . Maybe mount pulls away late 3rd early 4th.

  22. Salem won the bid for it. Besides unless you’ve ever been there, they Do great job hosting the game. Awsomen area , mountains all around. It’s a great location.

  23. I dont think bigger would be a good idea I’ve been to 5 stagg bowls and never once seen that stadium full. I think it holds 7500 maybe plus standing room. If it was in a huge stadium it would look like no one was there when ur watching on tv.

  24. Thats sort of my point, DIII isn’t DI, where 20000 crazy fans will fly to the game. By having it on a coast, it takes driving out of consideration for probably 2/3 of the country. I would roadtrip if it weren’t 19 hours from where I am

  25. @ndoc – I’ve been coming to the Stagg Bowl since 2003 (with the exception of 2009) and I have covered 20 other national championships: Bigger stadiums do not mean better venues.

    The City of Salem hits this out of the park – it is by far the best produced national championship I’ve ever had the privilege of covering (I’ve done 30 others including baseball, hockey (I & III), soccer, cross-country) and it is consistently pointed towards as the ideal of a national championship.

    And in regards to the size of a stadium… I’ve only seen this place completely sold out once in those ten years. It’s very well attended, but rarely SRO (although I spend my time looking at the field from the field, not the press box, so my memory may be a bit foggy).

  26. Additionally, ndoc, would you go to the Stagg Bowl if it were held in an always cold climate in December? One of the things I love about Salem/Shenandoah Valley is that the weather is predictable but at the same time very unpredictable. The one year I did not come here (2009) they were hit with a TON of snow (even by my Minnesota standards – and I just eked away from town and avoided a 17-inch storm last weekend)… and in 2004 the area was hit with, if I remember right, 8 inches of really wet and heavy snow. Some years it rains. But in the last 10 years there has only been three where the weather was … more northern than southern, shall we say.

    Where should they host the game? Texas? Not always nice weather there (2008 Soccer Championship in the first week of December… 35 and *snowing*).

    I will take my Salem week every December. I suggest you get in your car and drive – because the trip is WELL worth it. And the route is pretty easy:
    I-90/94 to Chicago.
    I-65 to Indy
    I-74 to Cincinnati
    I-75 to Lexington**
    I-64 to Charleston, WV
    I-77 to Blacksburg
    I-81 to Roanoke/Salem

    **Take this route because, as of last check, I-77 north of Charleston is still closed in Sissonville due to a gas line explosion…

    Come. But bring cash for tolls – You’ll hit them in IL and WV on this route.

  27. Oh and I misread your two-thirds comment… have you seen the map of schools in Division III? Or in Division III football? Of the (nearing to) 240 schools that play I believe that more than half are within 400 miles of Salem… Pat can (and probably will) correct me on this… Just look at this map here:

    And check out Google maps… Roanoke is 380 miles from Philly, 550 from Utica, 430 from Cleveland.

    How far is, say, central Texas from those places?

    1650, 1739 and 1170 miles respectively.

    Not even close.

  28. Depending on when u leave fo the stagg bowl, there supposed to have that 800 foot section of road that got burned and damaged resurfaced. Should be good by Thursday maybe even late today.

  29. Ryan, thank you for showing that map.. it gave me a solid half hour of entertainment. I knew western teams were sparse but now that you show the map.. salem looks pretty good. I also enjoyed seeing your champion percentage scale. St. Thomas only has 3.88% of people chosing them as champions!! Just makes this game more exciting for me!

  30. Ryan,

    I understand that the majority of D3 schools are in the east. But, it would be nice to play the Stagg in a warmer climate.

  31. While it should be a entertaining game, I feel confident in Mount to once again rise to the top of the mountain. No disrespect to St. Thomas, but Mount will win 31-17. It will be close until the 4th qtr.

    St. Thomas will have to take chances which will hurt them. I have watched the Tommie’s this year and personally saw them last season as the beat Monmouth last year. They are a up and coming force to be reckoned with. They are building from within and are recruiting talented players. They now are getting top level players to choose the instead of D I schools much as Mount does. They very well may be the new powerhouse that takes over Whitewater. They are hungry and their Conference has them tested.

    But then there is Coach Kehres. Losing is unacceptable and these 20+ seniors know it. They too are hungry and are playing with a purpose. They are on a mission. It is good to have this many seniors as they bring experience to the field, which is near impossible to duplicate. In the recent years they have had far more underclassmen playing. Seniors don’t guarantee a win. Just look at the 2007 Final. But it sure doesn’t hurt.

    So take some time and enjoy Salem. It will be a great game with the crafty veteran getting the better of the young buck. Hope everyone has a safe trip. Go Mount!!

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