/columns/around-the-nation/2005/finally-a-look-at-the-nescac

Finally, a look at the NESCAC

More news about: Amherst | Trinity (Conn.)

Chandler Barnard celebrates a fourth-quarter TD that capped Trinity's scoring.
Photo by Keith McMillan, D3football.com

By Keith McMillan
D3sports.com

It had to be done. Those of us outside the New England Small College Athletic Conference needed answers.

After he triple-checked the Week 10 schedule for “better” games, I convinced publisher Pat Coleman to send me to Amherst last week to get a look at Trinity (Conn.) in the midst of their Division III-best win streak, now at 29 games and counting. I had an inkling that if the streak were to fall anytime soon, it’d be against the Lord Jeffs and the No. 2 defense in the country. Amherst did have Trinity trailing for the first two times this season, but the Bantams rallied for the 30-20 victory. 

But the trip was hardly about the game for most of us. I was dead-set on bringing back answers to two vital questions.

1. How good are the Bantams, seriously?

2. What’s the deal with the closed-in NESCAC, in all honesty?

Though I missed a flight, got delayed anyway, sat on the runway when we arrived, flew in and out of an entirely different city than I booked, slept in an airport chair for five hours since my flight out was cancelled and will end up spending more than $200 of my own money because of all that, I do think this week’s Around the Nation is pretty enlightening. 

As you may know, the NESCAC is the Division III conference which, put simply, is an Ivy League for smaller schools. The academic reputations of its institutions are impeccable (Williams is first among liberal arts colleges in U.S. News & World Report’s 2006 Best in America rankings, followed by No.2 Amherst, No. 6 Bowdoin, No. 8 Middlebury, No. 12 Wesleyan, No. 15 Hamilton, No. 21 Colby, No. 21 Bates and No. 25 Trinity on a 111-school superlative list filled with Division IIIs). But the NESCAC also follows the Ivy’s lead in keeping athletics very much a small part of the college experience compared to academics.

That, for those who don’t know, is at the heart of the NESCAC presidents’ decision to limit football season to eight games and a scrimmage, all against conference opponents, and prohibit playoff participation, even though conference schools are regulars in the national postseasons in other sports. These guidelines have been in place since 1992, and despite how badly some of us want to know what Trinity would have done in the playoffs after going 7-1, 8-0, 8-0 and 7-0 so far this season, there doesn’t appear to be any movement to change that.

The Bantams have suffered in national polls because of the way the closed-in conference operates. Many on the outside think it’s a shame to deprive exceptional student-athletes clearly equipped to multi-task of an extra week or so together, pushing themselves to limits only an opposing team can inspire.

But frankly, people in the NESCAC seem to like it the way it is. And as amazing as remaining focused and overcoming football’s natural bad luck 29 times in a row is, the streak also is secondary to a mission of development and togetherness that can hardly be put into words without sounding ultra-corny and insincere.

Gennaro Leo carried 27 times on Saturday. He looks like you might imagine a Division III tailback would: short but stocky, with a little scruff grown in on each cheek. Well after the final whistle, still in his white-turned-mud-colored Trinity jersey, he passed the last of the Bantam well-wishers and answered questions about the playoffs, the streak, the eight-game season and the college that changed his life.

“Coming here has made my life so much better, said the 5-9, 190-pound junior who transferred from Colgate after one semester. “I would’ve never been a double major. I would’ve never been able to play every down. I don’t see myself getting more out of any school in the nation.”

The class of seniors ahead of Leo are 30-1 with one game remaining in their college careers. Some might wonder what a playoff game would be like, but not Leo.

“If we did that, it would be very, very difficult,” he said. “I’m a double major in Italian and economics. For me to play 10, 11, 12 games … that’s not what we’re here for. We don’t have the time.”

After the Bantams play rival Wesleyan on Saturday, the season will end just in time for Leo and fellow students to get rededicate themselves fully to the books as professors push late-semester tests, demand papers and prepare for the last weeks before finals and then the holiday break.



But only two of the 231 football-playing schools in Division III will add five weeks to their season on the trek to the Stagg Bowl. It’s possible that Trinity would be one-and-done. Then again, they could make a push deep into an often-weak East bracket. So doesn’t Leo wonder?

“I know a lot of the guys do,” he said. “But personally, it doesn’t really mean that much to me, I’m not going to lie to you. School is my No. 1 priority … I couldn’t even think about playing any more games.”

Trinity coach Chuck Priore coached at Albany, Union and Pennsylvania before coming to Hartford. He doesn’t recall the grass being much greener on the playoff side.

“We can finish on a winning note,” he said. “In the playoffs, only one team can do that. In ‘89, when I was at Union, we were 13-0 and lost to Dayton in the Stagg Bowl. I felt like we were 1-13.”

“I think it’s a great system,” Priore says of the Division III model. “I like it much better than Division I. But when I took this job, I knew that wasn’t a part of it.”

The players apparently feel the same.

“I honestly don’t think we’ve ever lost a recruit because we don’t go to the playoffs,” he said. “Honestly, we never talk about it.”

Leo says his team looks to Priore for guidance. If the coach never mentions the playoffs or the streak, why should they?



Priore, whose team picked up the school’s 500th win on Saturday, will allow talk of a third consecutive unbeaten season and a 30th win in a row. But only because it’s finally Wesleyan week.

“We have an opportunity to finish the product,” he says.

Trinity’s seniors have lost only once, in Game 2 of their careers in 2002 against Williams. A one-loss career is a feat approached or bettered in Division III by only a select group of Augustana and Mount Union players. 

Priore attributes Trinity’s ongoing success to a group of seniors that committed while the team was coming off back-to-back 4-4 seasons. Once they discovered their labor was rewarded by winning, they wanted to make sure it wasn’t just a short taste. The work habits rub off on the incoming group, and before long, a dynasty is budding.

Still, Priore, who coached at Penn during a 24-game win streak, is a realist.

“You sit back and wonder, because football is such a sport where anyone can win on any given day. You need some luck,” he said, referring more to players’ health than bounces of the ball. “For us to keep our edge for 29 straight weeks is a complement to the kids and the coaches’ ability to focus.”

Priore is proud that during the streak, his Bantams “play the same every week,” no matter the skill level or record of the opponent.

And having been through one streak of a couple dozen already, Priore knows nothing lasts forever.

“Eventually it ends,” he said. “You as a coach have to accept that and move on. We could have lost today.”

Had Amherst won, Lord Jeffs coach E.J. Mills sounds a lot like Priore.

“As a coach, to be honest, I’d have enjoyed that for about four minutes. In our world, as big as that game was, playing Williams is what it’s all about."

When the Ephs played the Lord Jeffs, the NESCAC title was often on the line. But since Priore’s Bantams have moved to the front of the line, there’s a new measuring stick for the league. 

So how good are they?
A team has to be doing something right to win 29 in a row against any level of competition. But for a long time, voters have seen NESCAC play as slightly above that of its New England brethren in the NEFC, assuming it doesn’t quite compare competitively with much of the rest of Division III.

I went to Amherst fully expecting to be impressed, and perhaps jolted into believing the NESCAC was as good as fill-in-the-blank. And while it’s hard to use one game, albeit between two of the best teams in the conference, as a gauge, I did find our poll to be remiss in not ranking Trinity (Conn.).

A similarity struck me not long after beginning to observe Saturday’s level of play. There’s no reason a playoff-participating Trinity wouldn’t be able to do what Occidental has done in the past two years. The Tigers are top 10 material on nearly everyone’s ballot, based largely on their postseason performance against the conferences that produced the past two national champions (the MIAC and NWC) and their consistency since. Since losing the 2004 opener, Occidental is 18-1. 

At first glance, Trinity doesn’t look overwhelmingly fast, like some Bridgewater (Va.) or St. John’s teams. The Bantams aren’t oversized up front, like Wisconsin and Texas teams have been. And they weren’t simply smash-mouth tough, like Pennsylvania and Ohio teams have been over the years.

But they were precise, opportunistic and deep. Against the Lord Jeffs, the Bantams had just one turnover, out-sacked Amherst 5-0 and controlled the ball for 37:35. They generated points on a fake field goal and blocked PAT return and backed up a 6-for-18 performance on third down by going 3-for-4 on fourth. Trinity ran waves of defenders in and out of the game, had two backs rush for nearly 100 yards and used a pair of seemingly interchangeable quarterbacks.

Amherst rushed for only eight yards, but did shred the No. 1 defense in the nation for 323 passing yards behind a spread attack and quarterback Nick Kehoe. And until the Lord Jeffs hung 20 on them, the Bantams had allowed just nine points all season, posting four shutouts.

“Unfortunately in our league, we don’t go to the playoffs, so they don’t get the respect,” Mills said of Trinity. “There’s not a chance in heck they’re not one of the 10-12 best teams in the country.”

Well said.

Mr. Chronically Late
Pardon me for turning Around the Nation into the Keith McMillan travel blog for a moment, but clearly I need to vent.

The thing about getting into town Saturday and getting back in time for church on Sunday is that you can bookend your weekend by actually spending time with your family. When a game is in driving distance, there’s nothing to it. When you’re flying, it’s probably better in theory than practice.

Case in point: Mr. Chronically Late was awake and showered in time to leave the house for Dulles Airport at the targeted time. In fact, I was up so early, I offered to bring my wife back the McDonald’s breakfast she loves so much, but I decided against it just to be safe.

Planning to check no baggage on a Saturday morning, I figured getting there an hour early would do the trick. I got to Dulles at 8:21 for a 9:15 flight to Hartford. That would have put me in Connecticut by 10:30, where I would pick up my so-cheap-I-didn’t-even-need-my-sister’s-employee-discount rental car for $24, then drive about 30 minutes north to Springfield and another 15 northwest to Amherst. Had everything gone even remotely according to plan, I would have been comfortably in place early enough to shoot some pregame action on the field, then enjoy lovely press box accomodations on the 50-yard line for most of the game.

Rules are made to be broken, but I’m sure there’s a cliché out there about best-laid plans …

As I stood in the security line, I tried not to make faces like the blonde behind me, showing come-help-me anguish to the official airport personnel. And I tried not to lean out of line and ask someone for preferential treatment like someone always does, and she did. We all need to be moved to the front of the fast line, I thought to myself.

But as my boarding time, 8:45, came and went, I started to abandon the cool-under-pressure, fourth-and-1 mentality. I sucked it up and asked the guard if I was going to get through the line in time.

He looked at my ticket.

“9:15? You’ll be fine.”

OK, I figured. I started breaking it down. If I’m through this line by 8:56, then I’m off the shuttle to the terminal at 9:01 and at the gate with nine minutes to spare. Um, make that 8:59, 9:04 and 9:09. Or, uh, 9:01, 9:06 and 9:11. Still plenty of time.

Well of course there wasn’t. So even though the dash down the A terminal — to, of course, the farthest gate — felt like the 300-yard shuttle run from the first day of summer camp, I still hoped I’d be last guy on board, and in my seat well before kickoff.

In more-stunned-than-I-should-have-been disbelief, I probably looked perplexed when I was told my flight had already pushed off. Surely, I reasoned, 9:15 would be the last-chance-to-board time. What good would it do to print the actual liftoff time on the ticket?

No time for philosophical questions. The 3:00 flight to Hartford would be useless. My wife would be happy if I just came back home, though.

Nonsense.

“Do you have anything going to Boston?”

“Yes. But it’s leaving in a few minutes from Gate B 22.”

Great. A 2,000-yard dash.

As I logged more time sprinting that morning than any player I was going to see, I passed by my nice-as-can-be shuttle driver, a dead ringer for Tony Shaloub’s Monk character.

“Did you make your flight?”

Easy to see why this fellow is much unlike Monk and drives an airport shuttle. Deductive reasoning is apparently not his strong suit.

“No, but they put me on another flight. I’m going to be fine.”

Famous last words.

When I got to my gate, I made the day’s version of underthrowing a wide-open receiver and getting intercepted. A crucial blunder, perhaps forced by the blitzing safety of an annoying flight attendant, distracting the one helping me with stories about who owed her free Starbucks for working their Thanksgiving shift.

Lady, can’t you see I’m under duress? Zip your trap while my friend here fixes my intinerary. Nobody cares about the scones to time-and-a-half conversion rate anyway.

See this is why I’d make bad television. Oh, I had it in my mind to go off on her. But I just said something about buying her Starbucks if I could get on this flight to Boston. She didn’t read between the ‘that means shut up and let the other lady work’ lines, and I’m sure an endless supply of Starbucks would have been traded for her continued silence.

I got put on the 9:30 flight to Boston, a city about 90 minutes from Amherst, but my main blunder was agreeing to leave from Hartford still. That turned out to be a $135 kick-in-the-pants later on.

The flight to Boston is bumped to 9:55 because fog on the ground at Logan Airport has stopped flights from taking off or landing in Boston for who knows how long. But it’s been long enough that the previous Dulles-to-Logan flight on the same airline hasn’t left Washington D.C. yet. 

And I still think I can make the game at this point.

The rental car company wants to charge a $150 one-way fee on a chump change rental. But I need one from Boston. So I agree to return it there. My flight out of Hartford was 6 a.m.-ish, and I was going to hang with friends in Boston anyway, leaving town about 2 a.m. and not sleeping.

This was great. Out of Boston meant I could possibly get a power nap instead of driving to Hartford, and still be home Sunday morning.

Well, short story long, we sit on the runway in Boston from about 11:20 to 11:50 while the plane that had been in front of us uses the single gate allotted to their budget airline. (Said airline filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection yesterday.) I get off, skip baggage claim and get a good omen. As soon as I walk to the street, I see my rental car company’s shuttle. Nice.

Or not so much. First off, their airport location is nowhere near the airport. We had to get on the highway and bust a U-Turn to find this place. And when I get there and through the line, the printer is broken.

They have to hand-write my rental agreement. No lie.

As soon as that’s finished, of course, someone from another location shows up with a fresh printer. By now, I’m just hoping to see the second half. The guy in front of me says his son plays for the Patriots, and gets the clerk who cares a little too much, not to mention a free upgrade to a Ford Explorer.

What BS, I think, until I get upgraded to an Explorer too. Finally, some good news. At least I can blast MF Doom as I drive the length of the state to see what will probably amount to six or seven series. It’s almost time for the 12:30 kickoff, and I am pulling off a car lot in East Boston, not where I thought I’d be that morning.

I did get to Amherst at 11:08 of the third quarter or thereabouts, making an entrance to the press box that appeared beyond unprofessional. But at least Pat sent me with a camera so I could sneak out of there and try to make the trip worthwhile.

In the end, it was, even if more fog had my Sunday morning flight cancelled. That put me back in D.C. to make it to work for my 2 p.m.-3 a.m. shift before anyone batted a lash. This is despite the fact that I had no time to go home, so I went to the mall, bought Old Navy Khakis and a $10 Rugby shirt from Finish Line and showered at the company health club.

Yep, just another day at the office.

And now back to your regularly scheduled Division III football coverage.

Rivalry watch
With such games as Cortland State/Ithaca, DePauw/Wabash, Amherst/Williams, RPI/Union St. John’s/St. Thomas and Randolph-Macon/Hampden-Sydney on this weekend’s docket, I figured it would be interesting to rank Division III’s 10 best rivalries.

Then while researching for a completely different project, I realized I’d done it before, in 2002.

That’s how you know you’ve been doing this for a while, when you start discovering things you don’t even remember writing.

In any case, the list could probably use some tweaking, as Coast Guard-Kings Point and Union-RPI aren’t in the top 10, and some on the list for longevity don’t attract much attention. But it’s serviceable in that it mentions most of the traditional rivals, and is attached to a column on rivalries that interests me to this day.

And if rivalries interest you, I should mention that the separate project involved Pat Coleman and I making sure small colleges were given due respect in USA Today Sports Weekly’s Hottest College Rivalries special edition, which hits newsstands next week (in time for the Division I-A rivalry weeks. What? We don’t have that much influence).

A look ahead
While I have a captive audience for the last time — admit it, a lot of you stop paying such close attention when your particular team’s season ends — let’s take a look at what D3football.com has on tap between now and the very end of our season.

Pat and I will each be at rivalry games with playoff implications, with him in Schenectady, N.Y., for Union/RPI and me in Greencastle, Ind. for Wabash at DePauw.

On Saturday night/Sunday morning, D3football.com will release its last playoff projection before the field is revealed on Sunday afternoon. Past projections have averaged about 27 of 28 teams correctly predicted, but of course no one has ever nailed a 32-team football bracket. So we’ll be looking to make history … or fools of ourselves.

The message board and blog are sure to be on fire Saturday night discussing the day’s events and their trickle-down effects. The record day in site history is still 59,351 from the day the playoff field was revealed in 2002. (ESPNews started taking the selecton show in 2003.)

Next week will feature a couple of traditional playoff week activities, so even if your team has gone home, you can still enjoy our coverage. Around the Nation enlists the entire D3football.com editorial staff to give you surprises, disappointments and the last team standing in each of the four brackets. And we run an open-to-the-public opportunity to predict how the playoffs will shake out between Saturday at noon and sundown in Salem, Va. Keeping in line with the NCAA and Division III’s model, you get nothing but the satisfaction of having played for winning, however.

We will be live from the Stagg Bowl as we have been for the past six years, and we recommend you set your computer up near the television, hit mute on the tube and listen to the broadcast team that knows its Division III stuff. Just before game time — and it is an afternoon kickoff this year instead of 11 a.m. — even if you aren’t a fan of the two teams playing, we reveal the D3football.com All-Americans.

Then, after the holidays, we’ll take a comprehensive look back at the seasons best plays, worst moments, biggest finishes and so much more in Around the Nation’s annual year-in-review.

We’ll also have a pair of contests between now and January, a playoff pick’em and a photo contest. The pick’em is the same as previous years, and we’ll have more details on the photo contest at a later time.

So we just want you to know that we enjoy you checking in for the 11 weeks of the regular season, and that there’s more where that came from. We won’t go into hibernation until mid-January at the earliest. And even then, there’s always D3hoops.com. 

Bubble watch
Honestly, I figured expanding the playoff field by four would solve a lot of the problems caused by Pool C being too small. In the 28-team field, there were only three second-chance opportunities for 21 automatic bid conferences. And with the Pool C door opening last year for 8-2 Christopher Newport, which went on to beat a 10-0 team in the first round, this year’s expansion should be preserving hope heading into 10th and final games for several teams.

But maybe I should’ve learned a lesson from all of those basketball tournaments over the years. There’s always someone on the bubble, no matter the size of the included field.

Since we’ve been getting a lot of e-mail from Hampden-Sydney, Cal Lutheran, Wilkes and the like, let’s take an honest look at bubble teams’ chances to get in on Sunday:

Concordia-Moorhead: 100 percent
The St. Olaf win should have done the trick, and they led St. John‘s with a minute to go. Honestly, they really aren’t a bubble team, since they finished their season today (Friday) with a 47-10 victory.

Union: 100 percent
Win, and they’re in via Pool A. Lose, and they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Hobart and go in Pool C.

Washington & Jefferson: 90 percent
I think the Presidents are in. Willamette is much a product of the committee’s seeding criteria, like in-region games, but since they’re on a Division III island, they also justify the need for it. Still, closing with Linfield probably bumps the Bearcats and brings the Presidents in.

St. John Fisher: 90 percent
Beat Alfred, there’s a spot for you. Pool C is made for teams like the Cardinals, Cobbers and Presidents, whose only losses are by a hair to their conference champion.

Central: 90 percent
With the victory over CCIW champ Augustana and three-point loss to Coe, the only way the Dutch can blow it is with a loss to Buena Vista.

Hobart: 75 percent
Despite the loss to Union, a win over Rochester and a Dutchmen win over RPI should put the Statesmen in the field.

RPI: 75 percent
They play Union Saturday for the Dutchman’s Shoes Trophy. It’s simple. Win, and they’re in. Lose, they’re out. There are three good cases in the Liberty League, but only two can realistically get in. Although, if there were three one-loss teams and some interesting upsets on Saturday, it’s not totally impossible.

DePauw: 60 percent
Beating Wabash is imperative for playoff consideration, no shocker there. But a result against Trinity would really have helped. Right now, the loss to Wesley gives Trinity to the tiebreaker for the Pool A bid based on overall winning percentage. Can the committee really allow a hurricane to blow away the hopes of a team that scheduled three playoff teams? Beating the Little Giants would give the QoW a significant boost. Not to mention Trinity could lose to Millsaps, which would send the SCAC tiebreaker down to opponents win/loss percentage. DePauw’s non-SCAC opponents (Wesley, Hope, Chicago, Wabash) are 26-10 heading into Saturday. Trinity’s (Austin, Texas Lutheran, Redlands, Huntingdon) are 16-18.

Cortland State: 60 percent
There are two big ‘ifs’ for the Red Dragons. Beating Ithaca would technically be irrelevant since Cortland either takes the NJAC Pool A bid with a Montclair State win over Rowan or stays home. And hey, the Red Hawks struck down mighty Salisbury when they were still mighty, and the Profs are reeling from injuries.

Huntingdon: 50 percent
The independent Hawks, in their third year of competition, absolutely remain in the playoff discussion. Their only loss is 15-10 at Trinity (Texas), which would earn a Pool A bid from the SCAC if it beats Millsaps. Their score on the Quality of Wins index is only mediocre, and playing 2-7 Maryville (Tenn.) on Saturday won’t help. 

Capital: 50 percent
I like the Crusaders as a two-loss Pool C team. They might need some help from Rochester, Buena Vista or Maryville, but I could see Capital getting in. Their losses are at 6-3 Otterbein (17-14) and 8-1 Mount Union (42-24). Their wins over John Carroll and Ohio Northern put them in the field ahead of their OAC brethren. The committee ranked them fifth in the North, their QoW is very respectable (No. 18) and they close with 2-7 Wilmington. I think they’re a good bet.

John Carroll: 40 percent
Fine criteria for a team whose only losses are to Mount Union and Capital. But with Capital holding the edge, even an 8-2 finish probably keeps them on the bubble.

Cal Lutheran: 40 percent
Despite where this team shakes out in the committee’s criteria, I can’t see them getting in. Losing to your conference champion 41-9 is much different than losing in overtime or on a last-minute pass. It doesn’t help that the Kingsmen’s three out-of-conference opponents (PLU, Menlo and Chapman) are 5-20 heading into this weekend.

Alfred: 40 percent
The Saxons, even with a win over St. John Fisher to close the season, are a bubble team. The season-opening 36-22 setback against Washington & Lee and the 28-14 loss to Ithaca are the blemishes, and the best thing Alfred has going for it is that the loss to the Generals is out-of-region and off the committee’s radar. Still, among a glut of others in QoWi, a lot would have to go right to get Alfred in.

Wilkes: 40 percent
The Colonels would be in if their only loss was by a field goal to unbeaten Delaware Valley. But the season-opening loss to William Patterson (4-5 even after beating Rowan) is troubling. They are among teams like Cal Lutheran, Ohio Northern, DePauw and Hobart in QoWi, and the committee could give them credit for winning their final seven (assuming they beat King’s).

UW-Oshkosh: 30 percent
Looks like the 13-10 loss to River Falls will cost them. UW-Whitewater is the Titans’ other loss, and UW-La Crosse looms this weekend. They’re at 10 in the committee’s latest West Region rankings, behind Cal Lutheran.

Ohio Northern: 30 percent
Stuck behind Capital and John Carroll, the two teams it lost to, the Polar Bears may simply remember this season for beating Mount Union. And at least they don’t have to worry about a playoff ban keeping them home.

Adrian: 25 percent
If Albion wins the automatic bid, it’d be tough for the Bulldogs to know they beat the Britons but knocked themselves out of the picture with losses to Alma and Hope. Their hope is in winning Saturday and taking the MIAA Pool A bid.

Wheaton: 20 percent
On criteria alone, the Thunder would have a shot. The loss to Illinois Wesleyan is troublesome. So is the fact that Saturday opponent Augustana is in the field already as the CCIW champion, and runner-up North Central is a Pool C lock that beat Wheaton.

St. Olaf: 20 percent
We’re being generous, because neither of the losses were close, but they’re on Wheaton’s boat: Third team coming out of their own conference. That’s not an official restraint, but I find it hard to believe three from one conference will go unless their credentials are impeccable.

Willamette: 20 percent
We like the Bearcats, but not their chance of beating Linfield. If they do, the committee might think they deserve to go, but they might also stretch the criteria to keep a three-loss team from getting in, even if none of the losses were in-region against a Division III opponent.

Hampden-Sydney: 10 percent
Despite the fact that they beat a team that will likely get into the field 49-20, the win over Johns Hopkins doesn’t outweigh the losses to Bridgewater and Washington & Lee, and the tough year the ODAC had against out-of-conference opposition. Their QoW rating isn’t bad, but it’s behind other teams on the bubble.

St. Norbert: 5 percent
Even with defeats against two playoff teams who might both be undefeated, and a QoWi that puts them right in the mix, I think the subjective opinion of the Midwest Conference, the margin of defeats and the lack of impressive wins will make any discussion about the Green Knights a short one.

Bridgewater State: 5 percent
Hard to be left out of your own title game in one of the country’s two weakest conferences and get in. But almost all their wins are by big margins, the loss to Fitchburg State was by a TD and their QoWi stacks up favorably against some others on the bubble.

Widener: 5 percent
At 8-2, they might deserve to be higher in the discussion. But since one if their losses was to Wilkes, which needs help to get in the field, I’m not sure I can even do the math it would take to get the Pioneers in as well. And did we mention Delaware Valley is Saturday’s opponent?

Salisbury: 0 percent
Losses to Montclair State, Wesley and Widener did in a team we thought might make a strong run through the East or South bracket.

Next week: D3football.com columnists’ picks for the playoffs, a look back at preseason polls compared to how the regular season went, a wrap-up of Streak Watch, the best unused quotes of the year and more.

Attention SIDs
On behalf of Around the Nation and D3football.com, thank you for making our jobs easier this season. If you're in the playoffs, we hope to see you along the way, and if not, perhaps sometime during basketball or next season.

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Adam Turer

Adam Turer graduated in 2006 from Washington and Lee University, where he was a two-year starter at free safety. He lives in Cincinnati and covers area high school sports in addition to his full-time job as an attorney. Adam has contributed to D3football.com since 2007 and is in his third season writing Around the Nation after spending four seasons writing Around the Mid-Atlantic.

2014-2015 columnist: Ryan Tipps.
2001-2013 columnist: Keith McMillan.

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