|After a couple of years away from this, we will once again have ASC-on-ASC in the first round, guaranteeing that not only can't we have two Texas teams in the Stagg Bowl, but we can't even have them in the second round.
Hardin-Simmons athletics photo
Right off the bat, the first thing anyone sees in this bracket is a No. 1 seed and a No. 3 or No. 4 seed playing in the first round, in a rematch of a game -- a conference game, at that. Yes, we thought we were done with this. Weren't we past this? Instead, Hardin-Simmons faces off against Mary Hardin-Baylor once again and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps goes to Whitworth in the first round, whereas in the past two years, Hardin-Simmons was paired up with the Northwest Conference champion and the SCIAC champ came to UMHB.
If you can get beyond that, this is a pretty good bracket otherwise. Our committee and the NCAA Division III football committee agreed on the six teams that we were able to select: MIT as the Pool B team, and Bethel, Centre, Hardin-Simmons, John Carroll and Muhlenberg as the five at-large teams, or Pool C teams. The bracket is set up to permit a Mount Union/Mary Hardin-Baylor rematch in the Stagg Bowl, or, if different teams advance, a Mount Union-Whitewater game.
Envision, if you will, a potential St. John's/Mary Hardin-Baylor quarterfinal, or a John Carroll-Mount Union quarterfinal. (OK, that probably would have been better placed in the semifinals.) Perhaps there's a Brockport-Frostburg quarterfinal in the offing. Or a UW-Whitewater ... uhm, North Central game, is probably the most interesting.
But a first-round rematch of teams in the American Southwest Conference, while not new, is still not what the committee wants. Unfortunately, the committee doesn't always get what it wants.
"It's definitely not what we want as a committee," said Jim Catanzaro, head football coach at Lake Forest College and chair of the national committee. "And me personally, that's probably the one thing I'm most against is having rematches of conference teams.
"Unfortunately over the last couple of years we've gotten away from the Division III philosophy and making the tournament with less flights and less strain on the travel. We kind of got away from what other Division III sports are doing, and we got called to the carpet on that a little bit."
You can hear our full conversation with Catanzaro on the next edition of the D3football.com Around the Nation Podcast.
Questions? Hit the comments at the bottom of this page.