Do you know that point in a game when you stare at the clock,
run through the last scenario in your mind where your team can
score the points it needs to win, then realize it's impossible and
is just not going to happen?
"The majority of good Division III players I
played with felt they had something to prove," said Ragsdale, who
is back in Southern California and out of coaching after a stint as
offensive coordinator at Division II Minnesota-Mankato. "Who they
were proving it to, I don't know, since there were a couple
thousand people in the stands, maybe. Certainly not to the national
"When it comes right down to it," Moore wrote, "a great D-III
running back is someone who has all the talent of a big-time
prospect, but for whatever reason was overlooked. If you look at
some of the truly great running backs in D-III history you will see
what I am talking about. These guys were great H.S. players that
were ‘too short, not fast enough, not strong enough, had an
injury, or played in a non-competitive division.' These guys thus
fell to the D-III ranks."
Ragsdale, who recalled a cursory visit to San Diego State after an
all-city season in Los Angeles as his only Division I attention,
said he had "a huge chip on his shoulder." At 5-10 and 160 pounds
coming out of high school, he fit the late-bloomer criteria as
well. He grew two inches and bulked up at least 20 pounds.
"Where I was after playing five seasons of arena football was a
far cry from my senior year in high school," Ragsdale said.
And not just physically.
The great players have an innate ability to get the most out of
themselves, and it likely stems from that love of the game Division
III players talk so much about. It's our calling card, in one
sense, since our play is rewarded with little adulation and no
scholarship money. It's also why Larry Kehres says one of the most
important aspects of his recruiting is asking a player face-to-face
if he has a passion for the game.
Kehres, of course, found one who has it in Kmic.
His 5-9, 193-pound senior running back has rushed for 6,723 yards,
second in Division III history, 640 short of the 7,353 Grove City's
R.J. Bowers piled up from 1997-2000. He set the division scoring
mark Saturday against Otterbein, his third touchdown being the
111th of his career.
But Kmic still has the hunger of a freshman scrapping for playing
told Toledo Blade columnist Dave Hackenberg
. "He's our
tempo-setter in practice. When a real good player sets the tone it
catches everyone's attention. He dictates the energy. So what Nate
does for us in games is only half the story."
Vogelbach, who passed Westminster (Mo.)'s Justin Peery's career
passing mark of 13,262 yards last weekend against Catholic, has
been an all-around success at Guilford. In the Greensboro News
& Record, a school administrator praised the quarterback's
success in the classroom.
How very Division III of our finest talents to also represent our
best in terms of work ethic.
Perhaps the desire to be better than average is truly the tie that
"I had a bad injury in high school," Moore recalled. "I was told I
wasn't fast enough, and that I played in the smallest division in
Ohio. Not once did anyone look at my determination and heart to be
successful. Mount Union gave me that opportunity, and I ran with
it. Myself, Nate Kmic, Justin Beaver, Dan Pugh, and R.J. Bowers for
that matter, all have a similar story."
Indeed they do. Perhaps if your sterling Around the Nation
columnist had a desire to be great that rivaled Chuck Moore, he
would have brought you all those similar stories this week.
What do you think makes a great Division III student-athlete?
Share your thoughts on Post Patterns' Around the
Kmic recently passed Beaver for second on the list of Division III
rushers, all-time. If he stays healthy and Mount Union makes its
yearly trip to Salem, Kmic is likely to break Bowers' record but
fall short of becoming the leading rusher in college football
history. In six games, Kmic would need to average less than 107
yards per game to catch Bowers and 207 per game to pass Chadron
State's Danny Woodhead. Even if Mount Union were stunningly
eliminated early or Kmic is hurt, Bowers is in his sights: In five
games, he needs 128 per, and in four, he needs 160. This season,
he's averaging 159.9 yards per game.
Top Career Rushers, NCAA, all divisions
1. Danny Woodhead, Division II Chadron State, 2004-07, 7,962
2. R.J. Bowers, Division III Grove City, 1997-2000, 7,363
3. Germaine Race, Division II Pittsburg State, 2003-06, 6,985
4. Brian Shay, Division II Emporia State, 1995-98, 6,958
5. Josh Ranek, Division II South Dakota State, 1997-2001,
6. Nate Kmic, Division III Mount Union, 2005-present, 6,723
7. Ian Smart, Division II C.W. Post, 1999-2002, 6,647
8. Justin Beaver, Division III UW-Whitewater, 2004-07, 6,584
9. Adrian Peterson, Division I-AA (FCS) Georgia Southern,
10. Charles Roberts, Division I-AA (FCS) Sacramento State,
11. Kavin Gailliard, Division II American International, 1996-99,
12. Ron Dayne, Division I-A (FBS) Wisconsin, 1996-99, 6,397
ATN is pretty certain you understand the playoff setup by now, but
in case you're just joining us, a quick rehash: Twenty-three of the
32 playoff spots are determined automatically by the champions of
automatic bid (Pool A) conferences. We often refer to these as
automatic qualifiers, or AQs.
The criteria listed here
are used to select the three Pool B (independents and non-AQ
conferences) and six Pool C (at-large) teams.
After three teams are selected in Pool B, remaining teams from
that pool are evaluated as at-large teams, alongside AQ-conference
runners-up, in Pool C.
If you're wondering which brackets will be matched up in the
semifinals, or find yourself a bit confused about the definition of
regional games, educate yourself on our FAQ page
Without further ado:
Pool A watch
Five teams -- Cortland State (NJAC), Millsaps (SCAC), Monmouth
(MWC), Thomas More (PAC) and Wabash (NCAC) – clinched
automatic bids in Week 9.
Nine more – Franklin (HCAC), Mary Hardin-Baylor (ASC), Mount
Union (OAC), Muhlenberg (CC), North Central (CCIW), Occidental
(SCIAC), Trine (MIAA), Wartburg (IIAC), Willamette (NWC).
That accounts for 14 of the 23 automatic bids. Of the nine
remaining to be settled, four will be earned by the winner of a
Plymouth State and NEFC Bogan champion Maine Maritime play
Saturday in the NEFC title game, which brings with it an automatic
In the Northern Athletics Conference, the Lakeland at Aurora
winner takes the bid.
In the MIAC, the St. John's at Carleton winner takes the bid.
In the USA South, the Ferrum at Christopher Newport winner takes
And as for the five that are left, here are the scenarios, with
help from our own Gordon Mann:
St. John Fisher clinches with a win at Alfred
Ithaca clinches with a St. John Fisher loss at Alfred
Hobart clinches with a win against Rochester OR an RPI loss at
RPI clinches with a win at Merchant Marine and a Hobart loss
Albright clinches with a win at Delaware Valley
Delaware Valley clinches with a win against Albright and a
Lycoming loss against Lebanon Valley
Lycoming clinches with a win against Lebanon Valley and an
Albright loss at Delaware Valley
Catholic clinches with a win against Bridgewater (Va.)
Hampden-Sydney clinches with a win against Randolph-Macon and a
Catholic loss against Bridgewater
If Catholic and Hampden-Sydney lose and Guilford beats Emory and
Henry, CUA, H-SC and R-MC would be in a three-way tie at the top of
the conference. In a three-way tie, Randolph-Macon would have
beaten the other two and would take the automatic bid on a
If Catholic and Hampden-Sydney lose but Emory & Henry beats
Guilford, the three teams would be in a four-way tie with
Randolph-Macon at the top of the conference. In a four-way tie,
Randolph-Macon and Catholic hold 2-1 records among the four tied
teams, and R-MC defeated Catholic.
UW-Stevens Point clinches with a win against UW-La Crosse OR a
UW-Whitewater loss at UW-Platteville
UW-Whitewater clinches with a win at UW-Platteville and a
UW-Stevens Point loss against UW-La Crosse
Pool B watch
Although we've assumed for weeks the Pool B playoff bids are
narrowed down to Case Western Reserve, Wesley and the
Huntingdon/LaGrange winner, seven teams can make legitimate claims
for being considered: The above four plus Northwestern (Minn.),
Salisbury and Husson.
With wins, Case Western Reserve and Wesley appear to have the
resumes to get in. The third spot appears more cloudy. Huntingdon
lost a chance to improve its credentials in Saturday's 38-34 loss
to Hampden-Sydney. LaGrange, 8-1 after losing the first 20 games in
program history, doesn't have a loss to anyone in Division III.
Northwestern (Minn.) is knocking on the door and could get in a
surprise. Husson has no regional losses, though it did drop out of
the regional rankings this week.
For more Pool B insight, visit Post
Pool C watch
Pool C, which once looked daunting even for one-loss teams, seems
narrowed down to a solid 10, plus Pool B overflow. Around the
Nation still doesn't believe any of the six at-large bids would go
to two-loss teams except if several of the 10 teams we mention
The strongest Pool C candidates are Otterbein,
Hardin-Simmons, UW-Whitewater, Ithaca, Montclair State,
Hampden-Sydney, Redlands, RPI, and Washington & Jefferson.
Eight of those nine have games this weekend, and all but RPI and
UW-Whitewater play teams with winning records. So if your team is
on the bubble and you're hoping for help, it's not far-fetched.
Let's recast the list with this week's opponents:
Otterbein (at 5-4 John Carroll)
Hardin-Simmons, 9-1 regular season complete
UW-Whitewater (at 4-5 UW-Platteville)
Ithaca (at 9-0 Cortland State)
Montclair State (at 6-3 Kean)
Hampden-Sydney (vs. 5-4 Randolph-Macon)
Redlands (vs. 6-2 Cal Lutheran)
RPI (at 2-7 Merchant Marine)
Washington & Jefferson (at 5-4 Waynesburg)
We could take it one step further, since the committee evaluates
four teams at a time, one from each region. As teams are selected,
the next one from its region is put on the board for deliberations,
and one is selected. This will continue until six bids are
selected, but what it means is that if your team is behind another
team in the regional rankings this week and not much changes in
Week 11, it would be unlikely for your team to leapfrog
For that reason alone, let's set Curry, 10th in the East regional
rankings behind RPI, Ithaca and Montclair State, aside for now.
You could also run through each evaluation scenario by taking the
top team from each region, let's say Otterbein, UW-Whitewater,
Hardin-Simmons and Ithaca, and selecting one, then replacing.
For additional Pool C insight, visit Post
or see our
No. 1 seed watch
Last week, I wrote if I had to choose the four No. 1 seeds that
this year's brackets are built around, I'd go with: Mount Union,
Millsaps, Cortland State, Willamette.
That hasn't changed, and won't if they all finish 10-0. But given
the other possibilities, specifically North Central, Wabash and
Muhlenberg, all potentially 10-0, there are options.
Because of the great distance between the teams I have selected
– Oregon, Ohio, Mississippi and New York, and because of the
NCAA's focus on games between teams less than 500 miles apart, so
as to avoid paying to fly teams when it can be avoided, there could
be good reason to use different top seeds. North Central and
Muhlenberg could both be deserving, and both lie on regional fault
lines so to speak – that is, geographically, Chicago-area
North Central could host North Region or West Region teams, and
Muhlenberg, in Eastern Pa., could host East or South Region
In the end, the No. 1 seeds should be decided on merit, not
geography, especially since we were reminded last season that a top
seed is no guarantee to get out of the first round, much less host
multiple home games. But geography can be a factor in building
brackets, and in the case of a Cortland State loss to 8-1 rival
Ithaca, the selection committee might well be forced to build a
bracket full of East Region teams around North Region power Mount
Union for the second consecutive season.
Fans are animatedly discussing Potential
Playoff Selections / Seedings
, including possible No. 1 seeds,
so if you crave more insight than ATN can dish out, visit Post
Week 11 tends to be the mother of all rivalry weeks, but a lot of
the traditional clashes are already in the books. Still, there are
four long-term rivalries with big-time conference title and playoff
implications to go along with the season-making, alumni-pleasing
pride that's always on the line.
No. 17 Ithaca at No. 7 Cortland State:
crowd is likely to be on hand at Cortland to watch one of the
better installments of the the Cortaca Jug game in memory; playoff
aspirations on both sides will be affected.
DePauw at No. 3 Wabash:
Pat Coleman will be in Crawfordsville as the Tigers look to upset
the Little Giants in the nation's most-even rivalry.
No. 6 Muhlenberg at Moravian:
Mules go for their
21st regular-season win in a row and second consecutive unbeaten
regular season against their 7-2 Lehigh Valley rivals.
Randolph-Macon at Hampden-Sydney:
Tigers need to
win at "Death Valley" in 114th playing of "The Game" to keep
playoff hopes alive. Red-hot Yellow Jackets hope to snap seven-game
losing streak in the series.
Discuss the history of rivalries and jaw about this year's games
on Post Patterns' Division III
Check Friday morning's Daily Dose for Pat, Keith and a guest's
'Triple Take' primer on Week 11's games.
The Press Box
Reader feedback: Around the Nation encourages your opinions on the
playoff picture, moments to remember for the year-in-review and
other selected topics linked throughout the column. Readers can
always get a response by posting on Around the Nation's running
thread on Post Patterns (under general football). E-mail
correspondence can be directed to Keith@D3football.com or submitted
with our feedback form.
Sports Information Directors: To contact Keith McMillan, use
Keith@D3football.com, or snail mail to D3football.com, 13055
Carolyn Forest Dr., Woodbridge, Va., 22192.