ATN Podcast: Can they be challenged?

Jeremy Murray
Jeremy Murray returned and got 25 carries for Mount Union.
Photo by JT Higgins for

Now that we’ve reached the semifinals, will someone challenge UW-Whitewater and Mount Union? St. Thomas and Wesley will get their chance this week, and meanwhile, Pat Coleman and Keith McMillan take a first look at the upcoming games in this week’s Around the Nation podcast.

You’ll also hear another coach’s assessment of one of our semifinal teams, plus Gagliardi Trophy talk and more. Don’t forget to vote for the Gagliardi Trophy, through noon EST Monday.

You can also get this and any of our future Around the Nation podcasts automatically by subscribing to this RSS feed:

Plus, here’s this week’s reports.

30 thoughts on “ATN Podcast: Can they be challenged?

  1. Not knowing the status of QB’s Neal Seaman & Matt Piloto it’s very difficult to discuss the outcome of Saturdays game with Wesley. Personally, even if Neal and/or Matt do start and play next week I think Wesley will certainly give Mount Union all they want. Also, Wesley has tested well as far as playing away this year.

    Does anyone out there (Pat, Keith or Ryan) know the status of these two QB’s. If they’re not available this Saturday it will be very difficult (in my humble opinion) for Mount to beat Wesley even with that GREAT defense. You still need to score to win and I’m not sure that Kevin Burke is ready to take on this challenge at this level. I hope I’m wrong…..more later!

  2. i think the most interesting game this weekend is the UST-UWW matchup. UST arguably has had an easier schedule this year than UWW, but has won by larger margins all year. In addition are all the underlying story lines, such as it being a border battle in the semifinals between schools only 4 hours apart.

    The thing I will be most interested in is how the #1 back in D3football (Coppage) manages against the #1 run defense in all of D3 football. I think Coppage will have more luck against UST than anyone else this year, but he will certainly not be getting his 250 yards.

  3. You can never put a limit on greatness. Both Whitewater and Mount Union have an excellent coaching staff and a great roster of players. Also kudos to Wesley, Mary Hardin Baylor, and St. Thomas.

    I wholeheartedly think Whitewater and Mount Union should move up to division II status. Give champion caliber teams a chance to be even bigger in a more challenging division and enable other great football teams to rise in the ranks.

  4. The whole WIAC would have to agree to move up to DII and I cannot see it happening given budget issues at each of these schools and throughout the UW System. A move to DII would require an increase in the athletic budget and outside of the current UW-Parkside situation (they are DII), I cannot see this happening.

    Case in point is what almost happened at DII Saint Cloud State University and their football team last year. Budget almost caused them to consider dropping football despite some success on the field.

    One could argue there is already a DII program in football in Wisconsin if you look at UM-Duluth. Take a look at their roster. The school has WI reciprocity so tuition is really not a factor for a Wisconsin resident.

    As for the UW-W – UST game this Saturday:
    I continue to think about 2005 and the UW-W – Linfield game. I am planning to drive down from Saint Paul to watch this one and think it will be close if UST avoids turnovers and does not start too slow. UST big three QB, RB, and WR are seniors and this may be their best opportunity to try to get to the Stagg Bowl. I think they are better than Wesley and may be able to handle Mount Union if they can stay grounded and avoid distractions of “just being there.”

    The wild card for Saturday is (1) the game is at Perkins Stadium (2) UST is in unchartered territory, and (3) SJU from the same conference had trouble both times it made the trip to Wisconsin.

    Score UW-W 31 UST 24.

  5. I agree, it has been tough for the MIAC teams to play in Wisconsin. Homefield advantage is going to be HUGE for UW-W, but I really think there is something special about this UST team this year. The defense has been astounding, and there is something about their coach, Caruso, that just exudes “winner”. That guy knows how to coach and prepare a team.

    UST has had some slow starts and I think if they can avoid an early deficit and keep Coppage under control they can actually win this game. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Wesley and especially Mount Union, but I think the two best teams this year are in the midwest.

    UST 31 UWW 20

  6. Do you think this is the year that Mount doesn’t make it to the Stagg Bowel? Does Wesley have what it takes to beat them?

  7. d3sportspat,

    Texas plays high school games in Cowboys Stadium with 80,000 empty seats, it seats 100,000, why not the Stagg. Instead the game is played in freezing weather with 4000 fans in a small venue. Dallas, Arlington Fort Worth has over 2.5 million people.

  8. We have an entire thread dealing with where the Stagg Bowl game should be played and why. Several explanations of why warm climates seem like a good idea until you factor in the travel for the fans of 90% of D-III.

    Empty seats = no one wins.

    There used to be a thread discussing why UMU can’t go D2, but in short:

    1) Their entire athletic program would have to go, and only football is D2 caliber.
    2) The school currently doesn’t give athletic scholarships and would have to find a way to fund 36 a year for football and who knows how many for the rest of its sports.
    3) The OAC is a perfect fit competitively for the entire athletic program, and as a 10-team league, makes scheduling easy. Unless they could join the GLIAC, playing Tiffin, Ashland and Walsh/Malone really wouldn’t be a conference experience for the student-athletes.
    4) They have a good thing going on. From their perspective, what’s the incentive to move?

    As for this week’s games, I’ll obivously make my picks in Triple Take. I’m bullish on UST, but I think UW-W is the strongest team left and anyone would have to play an exceptional game to beat them.

    I think Wesley QB Shane McSweeny might be the kind of player who can carry a slightly inferior team over the top.

    Mount Union, there’s such a perception effect because the bar is set so high. Anyone else having their season we’d be blown away. Them, we’re wondering why they’re beatable.

    I had that same flashback to ’05 where this might a changing of the guard moment. Both St. Thomas and Wesley have been built for this.

    Would be good for the division to get some fresh blood to Salem, and without the purple powers having a fluky down year. If either doesn’t get there, they’re going to be back with a vengeance next season.

  9. I’m in agreement with ndoc on his assessment of the UST-UWW game. I’ll go so far as to say that this is the championship game of the season. Whoever wins this game will go on to win the Stagg Bowl. The UMU-Wesley game will be good, in and of itself, but it doesn’t look like either of those teams can stand up to the MIAC/WIAC tandem this year. For me this really is a toss up game (but I would like to see the Tommies get past the Warhawks). I think special teams will play a large factor in this game. For the UMU fans, I don’t think I will be alone in saying that Wesley is going to knock them out of the Stagg Bowl this year. The only way they win is if Wesley has a bunch of mental lapses and turns the ball over so their offense is off the field.

    It’s going to be a fun Saturday, that’s for sure!


  10. Moving WhiteWater to DII is not the solution. The NCAA needs to do the right thing, put Whitewater and Mt Union on the same side of the bracket. If they really wanted to build a strong DIII following I would suggest they put Whitewater and Mt Union in the same quadrant. Whitewater likes to hide from competition. They won’t play anyone difficult in the first two games of the season in order to make sure that 1) make the NCAA and 2) they have home field advantage. (I know all about last year’s two NCAA road games) Not only is White Water public but it has little competition for Wisconsin football players. You have one DI school in Wisconsin and then a lot of weak DIII schools. Lastly, come on NCAA how can a school like Mt Union have 51 consecutive NCAA football playoff home games ? (Excluding Salem games)

  11. you make no sense. mount and whitewater are the two best teams the last six years. the 2 best teams play for the championship. they earn it each year, umu earns the right to host playoffs games cause there a higer seed. theres been years where mount would have travelled but it worked out that they didnt have to due to other teams losing. the ncaa would be stupid to put them on the same side of the brackett. until someone knocks them off the hill it will stay like this. if it went for 20 years, who cares atleast were seeing the 2 best teams in d3 play. now that could change this weekend but for now there the cream of the crop..would you want them to play in the second round then see a stagg bowl blow out. so in a way whenever they play would be the stagg bowl.

  12. If you’re the NCAA, why would you put the two best teams on the same side of the bracket? The only game you get nationally televised is the championship. Why would you want to put a team in that game that wasn’t the same caliber as their opponent? People who are only seeing a D3 game for the first time would see a sloppy lopsided game and never return. Ask yourself this question: would you be saying this if it was your favorite team that went to 7 in-a-row? Also, from what I recall about last year’s playoffs, Whitewater made the argument that their strength-of-schedule was weak because nobody would play them out-of-conference, and even if not, would you blame Whitewater for not scheduling tough out-of-conference games? According to this site, they play in one of the deepest conferences.

    UMU has so many home games, because, as the authors of this site have stated over and over; they’ve earned it. I can’t wait to come back to this site should one of the Purple Powers get beat and read all the posts about how there’s a “changing of the guard” and how they kings have been dethroned. Beating the Purple Powers once doesn’t dethrone anybody, they’ll only come back hungrier. Also, please everyone stop asking them to move to D2. UMU has been tough for 20 years, yes, but a good 7 year run by Whitewater does not merit a move anywhere.

  13. They may have been the best two teams, but what did it do for D3 football and building a broader and bigger fan base. The game appeared to be not well attended (based on the view of the stands from the TV camera) and it was moved from ESPN 2 to ESPN U. I believe in D3 football but I would like to see a more even playing field.

  14. i dont know if it would matter evreyone is so caught up in d1 and there stupid bcs system. its hard to find people that really care about d3 football, let alone an aduience to watch it. but atleast when its all over we have a true champion that proved its a champion

  15. d3fanatic

    “Whitewater likes to hide from competition”

    I think you are misinformed about this. UW-Whitewater has difficulty scheduling 2 non-conference games now because teams do not want to play them; hence games against NAIA schools, or as was the case in 2007, against DII Saint Cloud State University.

    If they could get two in-region games against MWC or MIAC schools, it would only help their regional ranking and S.O.S. so the incentive is there. But there is no one willing to cooperate. Why blame the school for something that is beyond their control?

    The “there is no WI DII football school argument” does not really hold true for the simple reason that any WI resident can go over the border to Minnesota and play at UM-D, S.C.S.U, UM-Crookston, M.S.U. Mankato, M.S.U. Moorhead, Winona State, or Southwest Minnesota State University — all of which are DII schools and because they are part of either the U.M. or MNSCU Systems, Wisconsin residents pay in-state tuition due to reciprocity agreements between the states.

    Take a look at the rosters of UM-D, M.S.U. Mankato, and Winona State and you will see quite a few student-athletes from WI playing there.

  16. The NCAA doesn’t really like to put events in places with 95,000 empty seats, GoCru. Who will attend if there’s no Texas team in the game?

    But than the 4000-5000 who shows up in Salem to freez their butt off, irritated because it’s not a easy place to get to.

  17. But more than the 4000-5000 who shows up in Salem to freez their butt off, irritated because it’s not a easy place to get to.

  18. Pat,

    I think you guys are just a little biased, what do you have against TEXAS. Perhaps it’s because you guys are from the North Region.

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