2001-06 Around the Nation columns
2006 Year in Review
From Catholic at Shenandoah on a Thursday night in August to the Stagg Bowl 160 miles down Interstate 81 nearly four months later, 2006 was more than just another season that ended with Mount Union as champion.
Sizing up the finalists
Except among the purple-clad throng of fans that usually heads south to Salem this time of year, UW-Whitewater enters Stagg Bowl XXXIV as the sentimental favorite.
Fisher enjoying uncharted waters
Three of this year's semifinalists were playing at this time last year. Three of them started the season ranked in the top 10, and finished the regular season ranked Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in the nation. At this time last year, St. John Fisher's season had been over for weeks.
Wolverines thankful for second chance
Last year was last year. That was actually the way Wesley coach Mike Drass approached Saturday's game with Mary Hardin-Baylor, a team the Wolverines beat 46-36 in the 2005 second round before doing so again in last weekend's quarterfinals, 34-20.
The familiar faces are just that
Although they've done it this season in three different manners – near-perfection, just-enough-to-win and resilient road warriors – the Purple Raiders, Profs and Johnnies are back where they almost always are: The Division III quarterfinals.
Tartans have new team to remember
One thing stands out while coming down the stairs toward Carnegie Mellon’s locker room: A portrait of the 1990 Tartans, who finished 10-0 and lost in the playoffs to Stagg Bowl-bound Lycoming.
Playoff picks, surprises, disappointments
The party most of us have been waiting for is finally upon us. Whether you see the playoffs as “let’s see how far my team can go” or “who is going to play Mount Union in the Stagg Bowl?” there’ll be plenty more drama over the next five weeks than there ever will be waiting on a bunch of computer-savvy math professors and know-it-all sportswriters.
On final stop, the fans tell the story
With the chance to position themselves for the NCAA playoffs on the line, it became apparent by the middle of last Saturday's third quarter that Rowan and Cortland State were content to lean on stellar defenses and play not to lose.
ATN's 2006 conference rankings
What began as an Around the Nation every-other-year tradition became a Kickoff '05 staple. For conference previews in Kickoff '06, Pat Coleman and I reprised our rankings of Division III's conferences, 1-25, excluding a 26th conference, the NESCAC, because of its policy of not playing out-of-conference opponents.
Picking playoff surprises, disappointments
Almost 200 of the teams that kicked off in September are done. But Division III finally got its 32-team bracket, which means no more first-round byes, as there were in the 28-team system from 1999-2004, among other things.
Two good games, one great trip
After this weekend’s trip to see UW-Eau Claire play at UW-Whitewater, then North Central hosting Wheaton later that evening, I came to a few conclusions:
The best and worst of 2004
Fans of Division III football don’t need polls, ratings or crackpot formulas to determine the best team. That’s settled each December in the Stagg Bowl. But what about the best of everything else? Player? Coach? Game? That’s where we come in.
Ranking the conferences
Got a friendly bet to settle? Perhaps you’re wondering why certain teams get so much respect in the polls. Maybe you could use a little help speculating which teams might earn Pool C bids, be favored in a playoff matchup or win inter-conference games between teams with similar records.
All not lost for over-70 club
For just about every defensive player, there will come a day where you'll look up at the scoreboard late in some game and shake your head in disbelief.
Saturday was not Witt's end
It wasn’t tide-turning. It didn’t put Division III football on its ear. But the margin of Capital’s 49-16 win against Wittenberg was surprising, to say the least.
Losing is never easy, no matter how
Every Division III football player knows what it’s like to lose a game, even if the guys at Mount Union have to conjure up memories from their high school days.
When winning takes a back seat
The field is often the site of a football coach’s greatest triumphs. Don Morel can tell you what it’s like when the field becomes the site of a coach’s worst nightmare. The unpleasant journey that UW-Eau Claire and the family of Justin Greenwood are beginning is one that Morel and the entire community at the University of La Verne have been on for nearly a year.
They really do like cheese
A weekend stay with D3football.com in America’s Dairyland was first-class, so I thought I’d share with the nation what football is like in Menomonie and Eau Claire.
Season off to a fine start
One of the best things about following Division III football is that there is almost always a new experience. There’s always a story you haven’t heard, a team you know little about, a place you’ve never been.
Ranking the conferences, top to bottom
As the season winds down for some, and as we gear up for that second season known as the playoffs, Around the Nation has a few post-Halloween treats for you.
Trying to get past the clock
I wanted to write about how great this Stagg Bowl is going to be. An intriguing matchup, a Virginia team in the game, a sold-out Salem Stadium and a prime-time ESPN2 slot… what could be better for Division III football?
Going from doormat to contender
At this time last year, Bridgewater was putting itself on the map with a 19-7 win against perennial Centennial Conference champion Western Maryland. On Saturday, the Eagles made sure they stayed firmly entrenched "on the map."