One week from now

It’s 1:00 on a Saturday, and one week from this moment, 28 Division III football games will kick off as Division III football begins in full force for 2007.

Keith McMillan and I plan to take in two games on opening weekend, heading up to Union, N.J., to see what all the fuss — some of which we’ve made — is about with Kean as the Cougars host Merchant Marine on Friday night. Saturday we plan to be in Dover., Del., where we hope to make a similar assessment of North Carolina Wesleyan, the chic pick to win the USA South, as the Battling Bishops play at Wesley.

It’s our eighth season here at Kickoff 2007 appears to be another success, thanks to the writers, the coaches they interviewed and the fans who have bought into our premium season preview package. We have some new people and partnerships to introduce to you through the coming week as we get set for the opening games on Thursday night. Meanwhile, I have a lot of last-minute setup and writing to do, so I’ll have to keep this short.

Keith and I have already booked trips to Linfield for the Hardin-Simmons game on Sept. 15 and a DuPage County doubleheader of sorts in the Chicago area on Oct. 13. We have plans for Keith’s first trip to see St. John’s play in Collegeville that are formalized in intent but not yet booked, and Keith is getting his first taste of Texas thanks to the McMurry Athletic Foundation on Oct. 6.

If you’re new to the site, welcome to! Check out the front page news, the schools’ press releases, the notables (news that doesn’t quite make the front page), the message board and much more.

59-year-old’s story is typical media

I wish Mike Flynt well, and hope he succeeds and enjoys his comeback with Sul Ross State. This blog post shouldn’t be considered a knock on him or the football team in any sense.

It’s a knock on the national media.

Unfortunately, this is exactly the kind of Division III story we’ve come to expect the national media to glom onto.

A 59-year-old comes out to play his final year of eligibility and it grabs headlines. A basketball team scores 200 points. A 34-year-old plays quarterback. A basketball player refuses to face the flag for the national anthem.

These are all interesting stories, don’t get me wrong. But they have a way of becoming the face of Division III sports. And that just isn’t accurate.

Division III fans already know this. This is for those stumbling across the site who don’t know what D-III is all about.

Division III football players are legitimate players. It’s not a glorified club team. It’s not an extension of high school. They deserve better attention from the national media.

Thankfully, there are other stories that can be paid attention to. USA Today joined other media outlets with a story on St. Vincent reviving football. The Washington Post’s Sunday magazine recently published an extensive story on reviving intercollegiate football at Gallaudet. And there are many other stories, some of which we hope to write about this season, and others which we don’t even know about yet.

Those are the things Division III is really about.

Gone camping

By the end of the weekend, everyone will be in training camp. (Other than the NESCAC schools, which do almost nothing footballwise in a normal way.)

Coaches deal with camp in different ways. Some turn their phone off entirely and don’t respond to anything. I played phone tag with one coach recently the day before his camp started and he was meeting with a Marine recruiter, among other things, then letting his staff knock off after lunch.

Last free time for three months, after all.

For many freshmen, it’s a reality check. No matter how much it’s stressed otherwise, some players and high school coaches think of Division III football as an extension of high school — something familiar that they’ve already prepared for and instinctively know how to handle. But this isn’t the case. How else do you explain the number of freshmen football players who don’t even make it to the first day of classes?

We got a feedback form from someone purporting to be working on a high school project. It read as follows:

Subject: question for high school project
Notes: how many full pad practices can a team have in college in a day

Now, if this was for a high school project, it must be postgraduate work, because the form was sent by a reader on a Division III campus. It appears some player wasn’t ready for a particular coach’s camp.

I recommended he not raise this matter with his coach.

So while coaches are in their bunkers and players are in their dorm rooms, we’re sitting here on the outside counting down the final two weeks until the 2007 season starts.

Camp memories, anyone?