What the chair said

Matt Wenger
Wesley, the No. 1 overall seed, really?

Last year, our friends at In The HuddLLe, the internet talk show covering the Liberty League (hence the odd spelling) and the East Region, got Division III selection committee chair Joy Solomen on the phone and grilled her with some tough questions about how teams were selected.

This year, the bracket is a little less controversial, but there were still many questions to be asked and answered. For more about the bracket and selection process, this is a good listen. Frank Rossi and James Baker ask the questions for In the HuddLLe.

• Why were there seeds this year, when last year we were told there were never any seeds?
• How did the ACFC and NJAC teams get split into two separate brackets?
• Why did the regional rankings not reflect the final seedings?
• How were the last at-large selections made?

Click the play button below to listen.

You can also get this and any of our future Around the Nation podcasts automatically by subscribing to this RSS feed: http://www.d3blogs.com/d3football/?feed=podcast

38 thoughts on “What the chair said

  1. The national rankings by D3football.com and the nations coaches seems to have taken a serious hit in credibility. How can we as football fans take these rankings seriously when a small group of people behind closed doors have so much authority (BCS like)? As a UWW fan I have to ask a couple questions: What is the value of being ranked number 1 the entire year (D3football.com), with a 25 game winning streak (longest of any NCAA division in football), including a national championship, and effectively have the selection committee make you #5 for the play offs!? UWW, D3football.com and the AFCA Poll have truly been disrespected by this process and the arrogance of the people in charge.

    Sorry, but I just had to say/do something…

  2. I agree with footballdad, what the committee did doesn’t make sense. The last number one seed should have been between North Central and St. Thomas. The top three have been the top three for many weeks now and to change the top two is really beyond belief.

  3. The UWW argument is baffling and, ultimately, hollow. North Central and UWW had a common opponent – Eau Claire, not a great team. NC won 20-6 at home. UWW won 45-0 on the road.

  4. While I think my opinion takes a little bit of a hit because I’m a Warhawk homer, I’m still having a hard time understanding this. In the podcast Keith and Pat mentioned that it gives the unbeatens a chance they haven’t been able to get before, there is a reason Whitewater has been getting the nod above them. They have proved it before. On the road in Linfield 5 years ago is the first, which correct me if I’m wrong, but was an unbeaten Warhawk team that received a 2 seed and had to hit the road in the quarterfinals. After proving yourself, and continuing to win, why should that change? Alas, the Warhawk faithful must move on and prepare for a tough 1st round game, and get ready to pack your bags if the bracket plays out.

  5. “The national rankings by D3football.com and the nations coaches seems to have taken a serious hit in credibility.”

    I don’t know if that’s true at all. Let’s see how the games play out and find out who is right. 🙂

  6. I agree with everyone, Whitewater not a #1 is unbelievable. Everyone in D3 knows that the playoffs run through Whitewater and Mt. Union. Not until these teams lose, we all know these 2 are the favorites. North Central is a good team and they play some good teams in their conference, but Whitewater seems loaded. The only things I can think of are the panel have a bias against Whitewater or the NCAA is not happy about something with UWW and is sending a message. I don’t know, but it seems like there’s something going on.

  7. Pat, is there anything behind what time kickoff is for playoff games? Is it up to the schools to decide?

  8. No — the NCAA sets all game times as noon local time. The one exception is where Wartburg is also hosting the Division III cross country national championships on Saturday, so game time was pushed back one hour.

  9. I agree that UW-W should have been a #1 seed. Nonetheless, I’m excited about this playoff, and I applaud the committee on a good job. It should be a lot of fun to follow.

  10. Trying to figure out how a #12 Trine, gets a #6 seed and has to play on the road at a non-top 25 DePauw team that gets a #3 seed. How can the rankings be that far off?

  11. What does PLU have to do to make the playoffs? Beat Cal Lutheran? Almost beat Linfield? Does anyone remember that PLU won a national championship? Or that the Northwest Conference routinely places quality teams in the playoffs? How many conferences have 2 different teams win national championships? Why expand to 32 teams if a team like PLU still do not make the playoffs?

  12. “What does PLU have to do to make the playoffs?”

    What any team in Division III has to do — win its conference championship. Otherwise you put your lives in the hand of the committee, and who wants that?

  13. I don’t believe the d3football.com poll took a hit. And I don’t believe their rankings are “far off”. As Pat says, let’s see how things play out. This committee made some decisions based on who they believed should be seeded where. They have the authority to use discretion and are not beholden to criteria. They have used such discretion in the past and even did in some cases in these rankings. Therefore, the committee cannot hide behind the criteria. They rank Wesley and St. Thomas one and two. They have homefield throughout, so there’s really no excuse for them NOT to be in the Stagg Bowl if the committee is right. If we have another all purple Stagg Bowl (Mt vs UWW), then the committee takes the hit on credibility, not D3football.com.

  14. to really sum up how I feel the committee did as a whole, go listen to about the 10 minute 20 second mark when she says “there was no common opponent or no head to head to look at”. obviously the game that both NCC and UWW played against UWEC gets excluded from that argument, right? all of the credit people are giving this committee and that is their response and it is something as simple as maybe looking at both teams schedule. what a joke. IMO this is somewhat of a slap in the face of D3football.com. There is no doubt in my mind the people who run this site have, at the absolute minimum, 2x the knowledge of anyone else on all of D3 football. To have a committee pick these teams the way they did (which no one really seems to completely understand) and to “rank” brackets the way they did is just an absolute head scratcher to put it lightly.

    Why don’t they get some people who are actually in touch with DIII football around the entire country on the committee?

  15. Solomen makes an offhand comment late in the interview about 24 automatic bids, 5 Pool C next year. That isn’t going to be the case. First of all, we’re going to have 25 automatic bids, as near as I can tell. Secondly, here’s the math.

    This year we have (I think) 226 teams eligible for the Division III football championship (not the 10 NESCAC teams, not Birmingham-Southern, but everyone else).

    198 teams are in Pool A (AQ conferences), divided by 23 bids = 8.609 teams for each spot
    28 teams are in Pool B. Divide that by 8.609 and you get 3.25 bids. They always round down, so it’s three.
    The leftover bids are Pool C bids. That’s six.

    Let’s say that only the UMAC gets a new automatic bid next year.
    Nine teams move from Pool B to the UMAC automatic bid, plus a 10th school starts football.
    Salisbury and Frostburg State move from Pool B to the Empire 8.
    Stevenson adds football and joins the MAC in Pool A.
    Birmingham-Southern finishes its provisional years and counts as a member of the Pool A SCAC.
    DePauw leaves the SCAC and spends one year in limbo in Pool B.
    Pool B’s net loss is 10 teams, giving them 18. Pool A’s net gain is 12 teams, giving them 210.

    210 teams are in Pool A (AQ conferences), divided by 24 bids = 8.75 teams for each spot
    18 teams are in Pool B. Divide that by 8.75 and you get 2.057 bids. They always round down, so it’s two.
    The leftover bids are Pool C bids. That’s six.

    Now, let’s add the ECFC to this list. That’s eight more teams, one more AQ.

    That means 218 teams are in Pool A, divided by 25 bids, 8.72 teams for each spot.
    10 teams are in Pool B. Divide that by 8.72 and you get 1.147 bids. Round down to 1.
    The leftover bids are Pool C bids. That’s six.

  16. First of all, the chairman never answered the question about why mount union is in the east. I strongly believe whitewater is the best team in the nation. North Central might have a slight edge on St. Thomas. I think St. Thomas was left a #1 seed in the west because they are the 5th best team.. think about it. Why have the BEST team be in the TOUGHEST bracket. I think Whitewater should be #1 seed in the North bracket. What I still don’t understand though is the east being such an easy bracket, Why is Mount Union always granted the wish of being in the East. The guy asking the questions didnt really make much progress by asking “why can’t each bracket be separated in regions”, well I’ll tell him why, Want an average east team get beat 35-0 from a west team in the semifinals. It’s simple in my eyes. D3 football needs to make a qualification system for entering the playoffs, as in having only two loss or less teams eligable and have more pool B confrences out there. The #1 seeds through #4 seeds should all be within their bracket region, then every other seed 5-8 should be spread throughout the country as they aline in order of strength. The best team in the nation should always play the worst team. That would create better teams having home field advantage throughout the playoffs yet still playing people worse than them. if in the west for instance, the one through 4 seeds all advance like they should then you have a bracket set up for convienience. for instance If a #5 seed in the east wins, like a Cal Lutheran then they should be forced to travel out east, but still having the chance to get to to the final four and maybe play a west team again. If they don’t think think it’s fair, then they should have been in the top 4 teams in their region. If any confrence winner has 3 loses or more than they would be replaced by another pool C team which would give more strength to the tournament. Anyone agree with my idea or am I going crazy for thinking of this??

  17. To add to my comment above, I meant to say 3 losses or less should be qualified, I said two but meant 3.

  18. Grant, if the tournament adopted your criteria, Wesley would never be able to schedule any games again. Whitewater would have even more trouble getting non-conference opponents.

    Essentially, you’re saying they should reward record without regard to schedule strength, and if they do that, everyone would schedule the weakest non-conference opponents possible. And then you’d still get weak East teams in the playoffs, but they’d get there by playing weaker East teams rather than solely by winning their conferences.

  19. Not sure if this will help the discussion here or not, but I did a little figuring using the D3 top 25 rankings as a basis for determining which is the “toughest” bracket. If you look on that page you will see that 37 schools got votes. I simply kept counting down the list and assigning that number to the teams in the bracket; ie: Salsbury is 27th and Alfred is 29th etc. The 6 teams that were unranked were all tied at 38th, so they all got 38s. I simply added up the rankings and divided by 8 teams. Results are: Mount Union bracket is weakest with an average team ranking of 26.25. Wesley bracket is next with a 21.15 average team ranking. Second Toughest goes to the North Central bracket with an average team ranking of 16.125. The toughest bracket this year is the St. Thomas bracket with an average team ranking of 14.875. And in the Semi-finals at least, the champion from the 1 bracket does play the champion from the 4 bracket and the champion of the 2 bracket plays the champion from the 3 bracket. That is, if you buy into using the D3 final end of year rankings as a determiner of which bracket is the toughest. Just some food for thought.

  20. I was reading through the comments, esp. re: UWW. The one saving grace that Pat and Keith mentioned that alleviates my blood pressure and annoyance a bit is at least the committee:

    1. Kept UWW from possibly meeting MU before the finals (if both hold form) and

    2. The North Central game scenario is really not too far away in Naperville from southwest Wisconsin (again, if both teams hold form).

    So in essence, it is really one distance trip out East perhaps or down to Texas.

    This is somewhat of a similar situation to when UWW hit the round out west to meet Willamette in round 2 (2008) and then down to Texas to visit UMHB in the semi-finals (also in 2008). I would think this year would be less taxing but we will see.

    On another issue, maybe D III might consider adding two play in games as this would add 4 teams to the mix of 32? I base this idea off of how D. II. is set up to a degree.

    It just seems too many 1 loss teams like Rowan and PLU are losing out.

  21. This year’s selection process has been very educational, and I hope that process applies to the selection committee too.

    I agree with many others who posted comments; that the pundits from D3football.com are some of the most knowledgeable DII football people in the country! Please read and listen to Keith and Pat’s comments and podcasts and I sure you will agree that they are usually unbiased and insightful. One such insight based on the selection process that raises some concern about some two loss teams; which also get slighted.

    As stakeholders, we need to move towards solutions for the future and maybe we should first concern ourselves in the selection process of the selection committee!?

  22. uwsystemfan –

    Adding 4 teams would require 4 play-in games, not 2. And it would add another week to the season. Do we really want to extend the season into (or past) finals and give most of the teams a bye week? (And some, like SUNY-Maritime this year, would have 2 bye weeks in a row.)

    Anyway, we would add PLU, Redlands, Rowan and Wabash, and then we’d just get complaining from W&J or Central fans instead of from PLU and Rowan fans.

  23. Thinking about it some more, there’s no way the season would be lengthened by a week. It already eats into finals, and this year’s Stagg Bowl would be on Christmas Day. Maybe that’s OK for money schools, but I doubt it would fly in D3.

    OTOH, the NEFC championship game sort of serves as a play-in game (although the loser may get a Pool C bid). What if there were some other play-in games in week 11, between champions of weak conferences? The most obvious one would be UMAC vs. NATHC (yes, that wouldn’t solve anything this year, but next year UMAC gets a Pool A bid). Greenville vs. Benedictine might be a pretty good game. The conferences involved would have to shift their schedules to leave week 11 open, though, and who would decide which conferences are involved? Maybe based on previous years’ playoff and non-conf. performance. That wouldn’t rid us of St. Lawrence this year, as the LL is usually pretty competitive.

    HCAC vs. MIAA would be next up, I guess. I can’t figure out who would be the last one. ECFC and MWC seem the most likely conferences, but they’re not close enough to each other.

  24. GrantBethelmn

    “Why is Mount Union always granted the wish of being in the East”

    Why do you think the committee asks Mount Union what bracket they want to be in? Everyone has a right to their opinion, but that comment is absurd. As for the rest of your comment, remember that this isn’t a traditional NCAA tournament. The committee takes economics into consideration when pairing teams and making brackets. Another thing to remember is that a school must submit a bid request to host. So if a lower seed hosts it’s because either the higher seed didn’t submit a request, or that team doesn’t have the facility or people to work the game.

  25. Im commenting on hamst64’s remark to my post. I still dont know what you dont understand about my post. Strength of schedule would still play a huge part in my system. Why schedule the weakest apponents when you could miss the playoffs with on loss. Maybe there doesnt have to be certain amount of losses requirment but a 5-5 St. Lawernce makes it essentialy beause they beat a couple key apponents in their confrence. They could be switched with a team like Pacific Lutheran or Rowan. Like Bethel for instance, I think it’s great that we play Wartburg because I can drive to watch the game but it’s unfair that our whole bracket is higher ranked teams. I’m probobly making a big deal out of nothing so pretend I didnt say anything, just wanted to answer a few remarks… and yes to the other responder, sorry about the mount union comment. I have not followed D3’s football history so I was just being more judgmental than anything.

  26. Grant says: Why schedule the weakest apponents when you could miss the playoffs with on loss.

    If you’re worried about missing the playoffs with a loss, then you schedule the opponent least likely to beat you.

    You would have to combine a minimum wins requirement with a SoS requirement if you don’t want this to happen.

  27. Furthermore, Grant, I’m not trying to pick on you, but you mention you haven’t followed d3 football very long, so here’s something from the recent past. Averett scheduled Mount Union for the beginning of the season. St. John Fisher did the same thing, throwing Salisbury in to boot. Those teams are usually contenders in competitive conferences, and they scheduled Mount (and Salisbury) to make themselves better. They knew they still had a route to the playoffs through Pool A, regardless of getting beat by Mount. If they knew the playoff requirement was to not only win your conference but also have 2 or fewer losses, no way they schedule Mount Union. They play somebody weaker, and hope to run the table in the conference.

  28. Alright alright, chew me out, throw trash at me.. All I care about is Saturday! Lets agree to disagree and i’m cool with it. It was just an idea and no method is perfect with travel restrictions. I can definately understand why the commitee has the bracket it has and it all comes down to money and thats ok with me

  29. SO lets screw with the minds of players and rank them nationally and and high in their region. Thats FAIR ! Why have rankings at all if a team is ranked doesn;t make it. You’re no better than the D1 schmucks ! Joy Solomen and company !

  30. How does 7-2 Salisbury make it in coming out of a 4 team conference w/o the AQ? Shouldn’t that be the big gripe for one lose teams left out of pool C?

  31. This is the 2nd straight year that Mt. Union has been put in the weakest bracket. It’s obvious to me that the committee is biased. On the other hand, the west bracket is always the toughest one, as all the teams are ranked except one. Same as last year. Linfield had to beat 3 ranked teams to get to the semi’s last year against Whitewater. It will be the same this year. It seems the committee sets things up so that it will be easier for Mt Union and Whitewater to be able to meet in the finals. Art76, your comment was right on!

  32. It’s not bias, it’s geography. They can’t send teams all across the country.

    This year they made it harder by forcing Mount Union and UW-Whitewater to go on the road.

  33. Well said. “This year they made it harder by forcing Mount Union and UW-Whitewater to go on the road.”
    Sounds like an agenda to me and NOT based on facts and “the numbers”. What’s next Mount Union playing UW-Whitewater in the first round as suggested in the past?

  34. To quote a famous saying, the reason the bracket is established as it is because “it’s the economy stupid!”

    Pat is right. There is no “agenda” with the committee. They have to make the best decisions based on what amounts to the least cost to the NCAA. We may not like the fact that very little money is allocated to D3 athletics but that’s how it is. With no clear #1 seed for the East Bracket, they had to choose a team closest in proximity with the ranking, etc. Some could argue Wesley in the east but the committee chose Mount Union.

    In a perfect world, the west bracket would spread the ranked teams so that a more even distribution among the entire field is achieved but we don’t live in a perfect world.

    Let’s just agree that no matter what would have been done, there would be controversy. Ultimately, the champion will be decided on the field and not in a blog. IF that is North Central vs St. Thomas, UWW vs UMU, or some other combination, let’s hope the games are competitive and entertaining.

    And most important of all, Respect your fellow bloggers and supporters!!

  35. Alright Raiderdude. I am sure Raider Nation would be singing the same “No matter what, there wold have been controversy” tune had Mount Union gotten a 2 seed…


    Its odd how the committee would rather snub the defending runner up even after they have demolished common opponents of two 1 seeds (UWEC and UWO, SJU and MUC respectively).

    What’s better is that the “committee” gave half of the number one seeded teams the nod instead of Whitewater, when those very teams have proven their inability to beat Whitewater. I think Whitewater has put more points on Wesley that Wisconsin has on Indiana.

    Is Wesley not the team that complained to the NCAA about Whitewater’s touchdown cannon because it felt it was a sign of bad sportsmanship…because it went off so many times at their expense?

    To put a team that has won 25 straight, has demolished all opponents (especially common opponents), and has yet to have their crown TAKEN by another team IS A JOKE.

    I love D3 football, I played it. But how can D3 football claim any legitimacy compared to other levels if its practices are so backwards?

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