ATN Podcast: Guest Brad Bankston, committee chair

Mike McCarthy
How exactly did Bridgewater State get into the field? We get as much info for you as we can.
Bridgewater State file photo

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We know you have plenty of questions about how teams were chosen for the Division III playoffs and why. While we’re always glad to answer them to the best of our knowledge, it’s good to hear something a little more authoritative, so we’re glad to be joined by Brad Bankston, the chair of the NCAA Division III football championships committee.

Bankston and Pat Coleman talk about everything from those invisible final regional rankings, the at-large decision-making process, and as much detail as possible about how Bridgewater State got in and how Concordia-Moorhead (and others) didn’t. Will the trend of two-loss teams getting at-large bids continue? Why don’t all four regions rank their teams the same way? How has the committee’s conference call changed technologically, and how might that affect the actual decision-making process?

It’s a good conversation, and Bankston is about as frank as any national committee chair has been in the past decade. This is not just the party line. Listen in.

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Although Keith McMillan participated in putting the questions together, he was unable to take part in the interview because of scheduling. However, there will also be a full Around the Nation Podcast with Pat and Keith for Monday morning.

23 thoughts on “ATN Podcast: Guest Brad Bankston, committee chair

  1. When teams like Wheaton (CCIW) & Concordia (MIAC) are left out of the playoffs, perhaps it’s time to evaluate how the best teams can actually be chosen & rewarded. While all of the participants are deserving, there are stronger programs that aren’t in the playoffs this year.

  2. I don’t think this is any more true this year than any other. Frankly, with two losses, these teams wouldn’t even have had hope for a bid for the past decade or so.

  3. Doesn’t make sense to have the two top ranked teams Mt. Union and MHB to possibly meet before the Finals.

  4. As you can tell by my ID..I prefer and hope for an all-Ohio final….Mount Union vs one of the Bergs…*S*

  5. During your podcast you never mentioned any concideration for Co-Distric champions.Why?
    There is only one 9-1 team in the whole United States that doesn’t get to go to the playoff, They were also Co-Distric Champions with the exact same record and beat by the same team as the other team. Makes it hard to explain to the players that they did what they were suppose to and it’s still not good enough.
    Go OWU!

  6. There were two, actually, Ohio Wesleyan and Wabash. There is only one automatic bid — a team doesn’t get any extra consideration as a co-champion of a conference. You have to stack up nationally against at-large candidates from 23 other conferences as well as independents. They did not, in fact, do what they were supposed to.

  7. I hear a lot about strength of schedule(SOS) so it’s difficult for me to understand why Wittenberg was given the NCAC automatic bid over Ohio Wesleyan. OWU’s was over 50 points higher yet Wittenberg got the nod. I”ve heard it had something to do with a ‘pre-season” poll recognition. If that is true that even makes it more ridiculous. OWU has a top rated QB, in sceond place by only .5 points and a defense that has done an outstanding job. This year’s tournament and any year of the tournament should be based on the achievements of that year, not potential or personal opinion polls.

  8. Thank you for your quick response Pat but if you would re-check your stats, Wabash lost to Allegheny and to Oberlin. So as i said before OWU is still the ONLY team to go 9-1 and not make the playoffs.

  9. Tazzmo — Waynesburg was 9-1 and did not go to the playoffs. Waynesburg and Ohio Wesleyan had the worst strength of schedule among 9-1 teams and that is certainly why they didn’t get bids.

  10. I’m obviously not as into this “bidding” process as most of you all are; I just thought it was simply pick the teams with the best records then if you have openings left you could use your “strength of schedule” stuff to determine who else you wanted to go. I guess there are alot more things involved in football now days than when I played. Good Luck to Wittenburg I guess, maybe we’ll get some of that “strength” in our division next year if they do good.

  11. But the problem is, with 240 schools in Division III, not all 9-1 teams are created equal. Remember that OWU didn’t even play all of the other contenders in its conference.

    And there is no “bidding” involved — no amount of money can get you in.

  12. “Doesn’t make sense to have the two top ranked teams Mt. Union and MHB to possibly meet before the Finals.”

    It does if you think the top two teams are Linfield and UMU, not UMHB and UMU.

    The playoff selection criteria disagreed with our poll, and said the Wildcats were one of the top two teams. So be it. Not sure UMHB has a claim to that spot over Linfield, even though that’s the No. 2 team on my ballot. Both went undefeated against strong schedules and took on a top-10 opponent in non-conference play.

  13. Pat, You said “Frankly, with two losses, these teams wouldn’t even have had hope for a bid for the past decade or so”.

    My point exactly sir. Let’s take Wheaton in the CCIW.. loses two games on the season by a combined total of 6 points. Wins the CCIW and beats the team that gets the automatic bid, who also has two losses. North Central is a great program and deserving. They also have two losses 🙂 Just suggesting that in a different conference, North Central or Wheaton run the tables. I’d also contend that there are much weaker programs in the playoffs ahead of more deserving teams. Bottom line:

    With the plethora DIII programs, it’s time for the NCAA to expand the playoffs.

  14. BTW Pat.. Thanks for the great website. I appreciate your work and I know many really enjoy your product. As for the NCAA…. more can be done for the kids.

  15. Thanks, yoyoma — unfortunately, I don’t know how the playoffs could ever be expanded. We can’t add another week to the postseason and 32 teams is a reasonable enough number. You might not realize how much of a battle it was to get this postseason expanded beyond 16 teams and four weeks. It was already the longest postseason in Division III and going to 32 made it longer.

  16. What makes the D-III season so phonomonal is that EVERY game matters. Any team that has post-season aspirations knows that even one loss can jeopardize their chance of getting in the NCAA tourney. I think all the proper variables are taken into consideration when awarding at-large bids for the field of 32. Perhaps D-I footbal can learn a thing or two?

  17. mattjoy is certainly right — every game is important. Wheaton is a prime example. I agree with yoyoma. I think Wheaton is probably better than most of the teams in the field. I watched the video feed for their game against North Central (a very good team), and Wheaton was far and away the superior team. Now this 15th ranked team stays home. It’s too bad.

  18. Longtime CCIW fan here and congrats to Elmhurst program on their first D-3 playoff run. This emergence of another team in CCIW is only going to make the division stronger. And I agree that there should of been 3 teams representing CCIW. BUT, my question is this,, With North Central getting the automatic bid and knowing the D-3 committe has restricted budget for travel, WHY is it that NC was put in the West region and travel to California while Elmhurst has a bus trip to Iowa? Very weak question I know,considering other discussion blogs but this has me confused.

  19. It’s not a weak question. I think one thing to keep in mind is that the NCAA doesn’t seed all of the automatic qualifiers first, then the at-large teams. Since it’s a 10-game schedule, not a seven-game schedule, North Central is seeded lower.

    When you think about it, it makes perfect sense for the CCIW to order its teams using CCIW games and for Division III to order its teams using Division III games.

    The thing is, someone has to go to California. So it’s not like the NCAA is spending more money to send North Central there. They’re practically spending as little money as possible by sending a team from the closest available major market, meaning the bus costs to the airport are low.

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