On final stop, the fans tell the story

More news about: Cortland | Rowan

GLASSBORO, N.J. -- 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.

The Profs took their shots and missed, saying they finally opened up an offense they'd been conservative with all year due mainly to inexperience at the wide receiver spot. Eventually, losing the field position battle and without the ability to drive the length of the field on the Red Dragons, Rowan chose to play for overtime.

Cortland State got conservative for a different reason. Already relying on second-string quarterback Ray Miles, a hand injury sent him to the sidelines for good, leaving third quarterback Bryan Shea and freshman Sean Pratt to guide the way to 9-0. The Red Dragons, not having had the chance to give those quarterbacks repetitions in practice, understandably clammed up, blew one defensive assignment in overtime and lost 14-7.

With the Profs focused on clinching the NJAC in a Friday night home game against William Paterson, which it lost to last season, and Cortland pointed toward a Pool C playoff bid if it can defeat rival Ithaca (7-2) in the Cortaca Jug game, it does little good to rehash the intimate details of last week's game.

But it's going to be so entertaining.

One of the great things about New Jersey and New York is that people aren't shy with their opinions. Rowan-Cortland may be one of the few Division III games where a columnist can roam the crowd (it was standing-room only in the Profs' press box, with TV and radio for both sides) and let the fans tell the story of the game, simply by direct quotes overheard.

This occurred to me right as I found a position along the fence on the Red Dragons side, not far from some young Cortland fans who sounded like ex-players or frat brothers of current teammates. Rowan security rode by on a stand-up two-wheeled scooter, and had to hold his tongue when he got made fun of.

Cortland teed off on Rowan early, sacking Mike Orihel four times in the first quarter, and on consecutive plays on the Profs' third possession. The Red Dragons forced a three-and-out on their first drive, and after a 23-yard punt went 45 yards in nine plays. Safety Stef Sair took a turn on offense, finishing the drive with a 17-yard TD run. 

After three possessions, the Profs had totaled minus-11 yards, and it was only that good because of a 15-yard personal foul against the Red Dragons. It's looking like it's going to be a Cortland rout at this point.

'It's like a morgue over there,' a Profs fan notes, pointing across the field at the silent home bleachers. 'It was packed (two weeks ago) for Kean.'

Orihel completed a 14-yard TD pass to Emory Lester, completing a 30-yard drive following a Kelvin Bellamy interception of Miles late in the second quarter. The game stayed tied at 7 when Cortland bonked a 32-yard field goal high off the right upright at the end of the half.

It was no longer a morgue on either side as tension built and defense dominated the game. In fact, this is when it got really interesting.

Even while starter Ray Miles was still healthy and in the game, the Rowan defense, led by Randy Tosh, was dominant.
Photo by Tom Wilson, Rowanfootball.com

Profs fans get a little restless and begin to try to coach for Jay Accorsi's staff: 'The outside's wide open! All day long.'

On the other side, after the Profs stuff a third-and-2 Red Dragons run: 'They had 11 men in the box. Jeeee-sus!'

Bellamy, fielding a punt, completely misses it, and Cortland either downs it or recovers the muff. You know what the Red Dragons fans who made the trip to Jersey think.

'He touched the ball!' one screams at the officials. 'You should huddle up and discuss that. That's why it went off to the right!'

Unmoved, the officials give the Profs the ball at the 35 after a 60-yard punt and 15-yard Cortland personal foul. Rowan receiver Will Barnes runs past Cortland defensive back Jeff Beck along the Red Dragons sideline. Orihel hits the 6-3, 204-pound sophomore with a perfect strike, and he drops what would have been a go-ahead touchdown.

'That's a long way to run back,' one Cortland fan taunts, as Barnes heads back to his huddle.

Beck loudly expresses his displeasure with himself on the sideline after the Red Dragons halt the Profs' drive. A Cortland coach implores the defense to 'keep your head,' while a fan admonishes the team. 'Come on Cortland sideline! You're dead!'

Sair's 47-yard punt return livens things up, but the next play is the last for Miles. The Red Dragons lose 8 yards and punt.

As the Profs continually try to run into the teeth of the Cortland defense, one fan notes 'We've got one of the best rushing defenses in the country!' In fact, the Red Dragons came in ranked 39th, allowing 91.8 yards per game, behind national leader Rowan (10.7).

After Profs defensive back Dawaine Whetstone plays perfect coverage on a Shea pass midway through the fourth, a Red Dragons fan decides, 'the defense is going to have to win this for us!'

After a 52-yard Jimmy Cuneen punt hits at the 8-yard line and dies at the 7, Red Dragons fans begin to reminisce: 'Last weekend they got a safety,' one says. 'I'll take one this week,' another yells back.

Cowbells ring out of the crowd, while 'Hoooooo!' comes from the Cortland sideline. Outside the fence, several Profs fans take in the game while still tailgating. One plays a bagpipe at seemingly random points. Another sits on top of a RV. Yet another exclaims, after a draw gains 5 yards on third-and-6, 'Hey, you hear that? We might have a first down!'

The celebration begins at John Page Field.
Photo by Tom Wilson, Rowanfootball.com

Actually, there wasn't much in the way of first downs the rest of the way. Cortland went to the fourth quarterback it's used on the season. Rowan, buried in its own end, played for overtime. On the second play, Jim Migliore runs free up the seam. Orihel is careful to put just enough on it to not overthrow him. Migliore stops at the 2 and hauls in the game-winning TD pass. The Profs D holds Cortland and a sea of yellow storms the field.

A man in a Rowan shirt runs out of the press box and screams '(expletive) yeah!'

Over by the Profs' field house, a player walks around repeating 'Make sure you're here Friday night!'

Then -- no lie -- three players walk by, yelling to no one in particular, wrapping up the game like so:

'Rowan University! Beasts of the East, baby!'

'Put a 9-0 sign up on my field? You're crazy!'

'I still got half a keg up at my place!'

Tour report
Around the Nation's Run the Playoffs took me to four states to see nine teams in five games. Along the way I reported back to you in great detail. And still, there are little things picked up along that way that found no place in an article, broadcast or what have you.

Pat asked me to list best players I saw. I didn't think ranking them was fair, mostly because of the Iowa trip, where I caught two half-games in terrible weather. But I will run down a few things about players who stood out along the way.

 Stef Sair, Cortland State S: You've got to be some kind of athlete to play offense, defense and special teams for an 8-1 team. Sair is also the defending 174-pound Division III NCAA wrestling champion. He brought his football talents home against Rowan not on his TD run or his 47-yard punt return, but on a short return where he literally ran circles around Rowan defenders.

 Steve Teeples, UW-La Crosse CB: I always appreciate the work of a good cornerback, but Teeples stood out against Whitewater for his knowledge. From the sideline, I saw him recognize a formation, down and distance and yell to his fellow defenders "tight, tight, tight." They never got the message, as the play went to Whitewater tight end Pete Schmitt for a big gain.

 Mike Orihel, Rowan QB: You have to admire his patience for working with young receivers in a spread offense. He showed true savvy and the perfect attitude about the younger players even when he laughed about how good his receivers will eventually be, even if he's not there to see them in full bloom. I can't tell if he's got an NFL arm, but he's got the size (6-4, 215) and temperament. I wouldn't be surprised to see him as this year's Division III quarterback that gets an NFL shot.

 Ryan Kleppe, UW-Whitewater DT: The 290-pounder dominated the first half against Mary Hardin-Baylor and drew a triple team on the backside of a rollout pass play. That right there shows you how much he's respected

 Josh Kubiak, Mary Hardin-Baylor S: He plays like a perfect safety in that he's fast to the ball and efficient in run support and makes plays as a pass defender as well. He seems like a cool-under-pressure type of guy, and the UMHB defense around him included playmakers at all three levels of the defense and a corner in Elliot Barcak that didn't do anything spectacular, but limited Whitewater star receiver Derek Stanley.

 Ashton Northern, Coe RB: I know Neil Suckow is the guy on the Kohawks' offense, but I was caught off guard by how big Northern was. It seemed to give the offense a stunning Thunder-Lightning type of attack, and if the team could have caught a break with injuries or in one of the three games it lost by three points or less, maybe we would have seen more of them in the playoffs.

 I thought Central had a nice-sized line and tight ends who might give someone trouble in the playoffs, but I saw them on a bad day to get a feel for their skill kids. Although RB Vance Schuring did break a few tackles on that rainy day. Rowan had a ton of guys on defense that looked like straight houses, just big and fast. Outside linebackers that looked like MLB and DEs that look like they should be DTs, in Division III anyway. I liked Kevin Bellamy in the secondary too, he was almost the best No. 7 on the field against Cortland (but we'll let Sair keep that honor). Jim Migiliore was a cool interview after catching the game-winning TD, even though I ended up quoting all fans from the Rowan game. Cortland State coach Dan MacNeill was gracious in defeat, which is actually pretty common in D3, but you can never blame someone for not being clear-headed after a heartbreaking loss. MacNeill was insightful and not complaining about officiating or anything silly like that. Rowan coach Jay Accorsi is a trip to talk to, as he freely shared opinions on why the NJAC should get two playoff teams and why, even with a new schedule that includes Delaware Valley and Widener for next season, teams are still ducking the Profs. 

Poll positions/My 26-35
Even after last week's losses, which included Hobart, Ithaca and Cortland, I kept the same 25 teams but rearranged them. Maybe I dropped Linfield and added Wheaton back in. It's not really important. At this point in the year, one's ballot or the poll itself can't always make perfect sense. No. 25 Ithaca, for instance, has lost to Alfred, which is still unranked, but beat No. 14 Springfield, who only beat Alfred by a touchdown.

The losses by ranked teams this week threw the AFCA poll for a loop too. They moved Occidental to No. 6 overall, which I would have backed last year, but not so much this season. The AFCA poll, as it typically does, has rewarded teams that haven't been beaten. Mount St. Joseph is up to 13th and Concordia (Wis.) 15th. The D3football.com poll tends to lean toward schedule and conference strength, as evidenced by its 6-7-8 of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Hardin-Simmons and UW-La Crosse, who have combined for four losses -- one by HSU to UMHB and two to No. 2 UW-Whitewater.

I admit though, after the top six or seven, you feel like there are a bunch of teams who deserve to be ranked about 12-15, and you have to put someone at Nos. 8, 9 and 10. So when people ask is Central a top 10 team ... in theory, you'd consider them more a team that could get to the second round of the playoffs, not the quarterfinals. But someone has to rise up that high, and Central, Whitworth, Occidental and Wilkes have been the teams filling those slots lately. Maybe they'll prove to have deserved it all along. The postseason is full of surprises.

The 26-and-on teams who just missed making my ballot: Williams, Bethel, Alfred, North Central and Carnegie Mellon got strong consideration. After that, Trinity (Texas), St. Olaf, St. Norbert, Curry, Washington & Jefferson and Dickinson are among those on the radar, but probably not threats to move into the top 25, although all but the Oles have a chance to do so in the coming weeks.

Remember, the poll is the combined opinion of D3football.com's 25-voter panel. It has no influence on the 32-team playoff field. That job belongs to the selection committee.

Playoff watch
Division III's tournament is top of mind right now, and D3football.com has released its first official playoff projection of 2006, in the Daily Dose. There's an opportunity to react and discuss there, and Around the Nation won't belabor the points here.

There's been good speculation on the Post Patterns boards as well, as fans seem to understand the criteria and apply it to their own projections better than any year in the past. I will point you in the direction of some key discussions regarding the three playoff pools, but if you're new to Division III or the postseason process, you may want to start at our FAQ before going ahead.

Pool A watch
Thirteen of 21 automatic qualifiers have been determined with Week 11 approaching.

On Post Patterns, Bob Gregg did a nice job of listing all of the Pool A qualifiers and tiebreaker scenarios for the CCIW, Empire 8, NCAC, NJAC, USAC. Head-to-head games will settle the remaining automatic bids that go to the NEFC, MIAC and SCAC.

Pool B watch
In the discussions on Post Patterns, most, including myself, had long viewed Pool B as a five-team race with a lot hinging on the Linfield-Whitworth game. Since the Pirates have outdone the 'Cats, I don't see many scenarios that send any four but these to the playoffs in Pool B: Wesley, Whitworth, Carnegie Mellon and Washington and Jefferson.

If you are interested in remaining scenarios, check out the Pool B thread.

Pool C watch
There's a group of nine one-loss teams staring at seven at-large bids here, with Bethel possibly making St. John's a 10th. Four of them play two-loss teams in their finale. Normally, my advice to the glut of two-loss teams and their fans hoping for a spot to open up would be to not get their hopes up. But this year, that energy can be spent rooting for the Johnnies against the Royals, and Ithaca, Rochester and Alfred in their upstate New York matchups with Cortland State, Hobart and St. John Fisher, because there's precedent for a handful teams in playoff position falling on the last day.

Courtesy of D3football.com's Gordon Mann on the Daily Dose, here are the teams with one loss, excluding conference leaders, and who they play Saturday:

"Capital: Baldwin-Wallace (6-2, 5-2 OAC)
Cortland State: Ithaca (7-2, 4-2 E8)
Franklin: Hanover (4-5, 4-2 HCAC)
Hardin-Simmons: McMurry (2-5, 3-6 ASC)
Hobart: Rochester (7-2, 4-1 LL)
St. John Fisher: Alfred (7-2, 4-1 E8)
UW-La Crosse: UW-Oshkosh (5-4, 3-3 WIAC)
Wartburg: Dubuque (5-4, 4-3 IIAC)
Wheaton: Illinois Wesleyan (3-6, 2-4 CCIW)

Bethel has just one loss but will either knock St. John's into this group by beating the Johnnies next week and clinching the MIAC or pick up their second loss."

Curry could also throw a wrench into things, joining the one-loss Pool C possibles, if it lost the NEFC title game. There are teams like Springfield and Trinity (Texas) who you may see listed with one-loss teams, but are like Bethel in that they either take their AQ or join the two-loss club.

If spots were to open up for at-large, two-loss teams, Alfred and Baldwin-Wallace would seem to be the first two in, based on the NCAA's Quality of Wins Index -- and provided they win their big games this week. In the current index, they are the highest two-loss teams not in line for an automatic bid. Wabash would be helped with a win over DePauw more than Wooster would be by winning at Kenyon, and Ithaca seems to be in the mix if it can beat Cortland and several other teams lose.

But these are all reaches folks, and QoWI is just one of the primary criteria. For now, let's look at the 9-10 one-loss teams for seven slots. Could four of those teams lose to open the door for a two-loss team? Seems possible. 

Remember, there are four two-loss opponents in the above group. Each is plenty capable of beating the one-loss team it plays. Resurgent Dubuque could give Wartburg trouble, Oshkosh could test La Crosse and Hanover-Franklin is a rivalry game, and the Panthers have been competitive in conference games. McMurry and IWU shouldn't win, but there are bigger pushovers.

So two-loss teams rejoice. Where I once claimed you had no chance, I now think there's hope. There is definitely precedent.

Last season, Texas Lutheran spoiled a sure playoff spot for Hardin-Simmons in a 32-27 upset. Wilkes and Cortland got in Pool C with two losses.

Before that, in 2003, a glut of playoff probables blew a game on the final regular-season weekend.

In Week 11 of 2003
Ferrum beat Christopher Newport
Buffalo State beat Washington & Jefferson
Montclair State beat Rowan
Cortland beat Ithaca

Christopher Newport, which was a Pool A qualifier, and Ithaca won playoff games the following week, as did Montclair State. Cortland and W&J played ECAC games, missing the NCAAs. Rowan missed the playoffs entirely.

Plenty can happen on the final week to help a two-loss team get in, even when it doesn't look good, just as one-loss teams who look like they're in good shape need to seal the deal on Saturday.

Llamaguy of Post Patterns message board fame created a pretty comprehensive Pool C chart that you may want to check out for more information and/or hope.

Rivalry watch
We've devoted lots of words to rivalries in past years, on and off the site. Pat and I, both working at USA Today Sports Weekly last year, wrote the small college part of a special edition on rivalries.

In the piece referenced above, we ranked the top 10 rivalries. We missed a few, but hit a lot of the good ones.

Having played in rivalry games going back to the old Thanksgiving morning Triton-Highland games in high school in South Jersey, and then for Randolph-Macon when its rivalry with Hampden-Sydney had just passed 100, I know how these games go down. They can be like second Homecoming Days, or altogether better. They can have postseason implications or none at all. They can be standing room only, with space roped off right up to the dotted line on the field, and they can get rowdy.

For many of us, they get us sentimental. We laugh about old times and old games. And honestly, whether there's a rivalry involved or not, Saturday will be the last game for a lot of seniors in Division III across the country. Most will be lucky to play football again with a belt and flags. They'll probably move on to bigger and better things (after all, everyone from CEOs to NFL genius head coaches to U.S. Presidents played at Division III schools), but they'll never quite move on from being a football player. It remains a part of who you are, either subconsciously when you buckle up for life's big hits like you used to on a fourth-quarter fourth-and-1, or consciously, when you smell fresh-cut grass or feel a chill outside and think it's a great day for football. 

Saturday is the last game for a lot of parents too, who I know have taken road trips, made friends and generally discovered a highly competitive level of football they may not have known existed. If you've fallen in love with the Division III game, don't leave us. Come back next year. Your son's alma mater would be glad to have a lifetime fan. If you find that time draws you away from the game and the school you once loved, drop in on one of these rivalry games sometime. Just for fun. You won't regret it.

Saturday, give it up for everyone playing their final game. For those of you in rivalry games, we salute you now:

Bowdoin (1-6) at Colby (2-5): Someone has to reign in Maine, and it won't be Bates (0-7) this year.
Coe (6-3) at Cornell (2-7): Eight points from being conference champs, the Kohawks meet the Rams, who have lost seven straight, in meeting No. 116, which is at the end of the season for first time since the Midwest Conference days.
Cortland State (8-1) at Ithaca (7-2): Going since 1959, it isn't the oldest, but it might be the most fierce. And it's got a team, maybe two, with a playoff shot.
DePauw (6-3) at Wabash (7-2): There's nothing these Indiana rivals like about each other, but they both want the Monon Bell in their 113th meeting.
Hanover (4-5) at Franklin (8-1): With eight victories so far, the Grizzlies now want the Victory Bell and a playoff shot.
Muhlenberg (4-5) at Moravian (4-5): These teams become Centennial Conference rivals next year, but they've been at each other's throats for a long time already.
Randolph-Macon (2-7) at Hampden-Sydney (3-6): Teams have come into most recent matchups with divergent fortunes. They're both bad heading into Game 112.
Trinity (Conn.) (6-1) at Wesleyan (3-4): No 'best team not to make playoffs' title on line for Bantams, no win streak. Just a chance to win the 106th meeting with its Connecticut rival. 
Union (7-1) at RPI (5-3): Union has already wrapped up the Liberty League but needs a win if it wants a home playoff game. It's the 104th meeting of the rivalry now played for the Dutchman's Shoes.
Williams (7-0) at Amherst (5-2): Our granddaddy of them all, with no playoffs ahead, the Ephs take an undefeated record to Amherst for the umpteenth time in the 121 meetings.
Wilkes (9-0) at King's (6-3): Crosstown scuffle should feature a lot of defense.

Streak watch
Two weeks ago, Framingham State beat Massachusetts Maritime for the second year in a row to snap a 13-game losing streak, but it couldn't save head coach Mark Sullivan, who was 4-41 and won't have his contract renewed. Becker played another winless team, but SUNY-Maritime got its first win in program history, leaving the Hawks still searching for theirs.

Heidelberg, which last won ' once -- when current seniors were freshmen, no doubt has several players who have not won as starters. The Student Princes also have a coach whose contract wasn't renewed. Saturday's game against 1-8 Muskingum is a chance for them to spend one victorious moment together before they go their separate ways.

Tracking the nation's double-digit winning and losing streaks:

Division III's longest win streaks 
Mount Union (17 consecutive wins, last loss vs. Ohio Northern, 21-14, Oct. 22, 2005; 9-0 in 2006)
St. Norbert (17 consecutive wins, last loss vs. Monmouth, 28-20, Sept. 17, 2005; 10-0 in 2006)
Concordia (Wis.) (13 consecutive wins, last loss vs. Lakeland 17-14, Oct. 15, 2005; 10-0 in 2006) 
Williams (13 consecutive wins, last loss at Trinity (Conn.) 34-6 , Oct. 1, 2005; 7-0 in 2006)
Whitworth (10 consecutive wins, last loss vs. Willamette, 40-34 in OT, Nov. 5, 2005; 9-0 in 2006)
Curry (10 consecutive wins, last loss at Delaware Valley, 37-22 in Division III playoffs, Nov. 19, 2005; 10-0 in 2006)

The longest losing streaks
Heidelberg (35 consecutive losses, last win vs. Marietta, 21-13, on Oct. 4, 2003; 0-9 in 2006)
Lewis and Clark (17 consecutive losses, last win vs. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, 27-11, Oct. 9, 2004; 0-8 in 2006)
Becker (16 consecutive losses, no wins in program history; 0-8 in 2006)
Eureka (16 consecutive losses, last win vs. Concordia (Ill.), 32-13, Sept. 24, 2005; 0-9 in 2006)
Hiram (15 consecutive losses, last win vs. Earlham, 7-2, Oct. 1, 2005; 0-9 in 2006)
Wisconsin Lutheran (15 consecutive losses, last win vs. Tri-State, 37-14, Oct. 1, 2005; 0-9 in 2006)
Augsburg (13 consecutive losses, last win vs. Hamline, 19-13, Oct. 15, 2005; 0-9 in 2006)

Unbeaten watch
Fourteen teams head into the final week of the season undefeated. All except 7-0 Williams appear playoff-bound, although Curry has to win the NEFC title game to make the NCAA field. Eight of the teams were playoff teams last year.

At 10-0 are Concordia (Wis.), Curry and St. Norbert. At 9-0 are Carnegie Mellon, Central, Mount St. Joseph, Mount Union, St. John's, UW-Whitewater, Wesley, Whitworth and Wilkes. Occidental is 8-0.

Winless watch
Ten teams are without a win so far this year, but only LaGrange, 0-10 in its inaugural year, is done. The other nine have a chance to win Saturday, joining a group of 11 teams who have won just once so far this season.

Eight of the 10 are listed above, as they maintain double-digit losing streaks stretching into last season or beyond. Bates (0-7) and Principia (0-9) are the other winless teams.

Who are those guys?
Our year-long look at how Division III teams do in out-of-division games comes to a close. Last week No. 4 Wesley routed Division II Chowan 37-3 and Huntingdon took care of NAIA Southwest Assemblies of God 42-17.

Division III has a faint hope of pulling ahead against I-AAs, but won't be able to catch the IIs.

 vs. Division I-AA (No games in Week 10, 7-7 in 2006)
Aurora at Valpariaso

 vs. Division II (1-0 in Week 10, 5-9 in 2006)
Becker at Bryant
Chowan at Newport News Apprentice

 vs. NAIA (1-0 in Week 10, 22-7 in 2006)
Southwest Assemblies of God at Colorado College
Waldorf at Buena Vista

But don't quote me '
Tidbits from Week 10 and thoughts on Week 11:

 Division I-A Middle Tennessee State leads the Sun Belt Conference in scoring offense. G.A. Mangus, head coach at Delaware Valley through last season, is the Blue Raiders' first-year offensive coordinator.

 Speaking of Division I-A, I guess it's about time to renew the cry for a playoff. Pardon me as I channel Eddie Murphy: "We've got a playoff, and you don't got one!"

 NEFC and MWC teams have finished their regular seasons. MWC champ St. Norbert and IBFC champ Concordia (Wis.) will likely be the only teams with a two-week break before a playoff game, however, as the NEFC division champions face off in Saturday's title game.

 Speaking of the NEFC Championship Game, the weekend edition of USA Today spotlights the Curry/Coast Guard clash in a blurb.

 Regarding playoffs, the more spots there are, the more teams think they should get in. Although all of the current Pool C leaders are worthy, I would have a serious problem if the final bid came down to 9-1 Wartburg or 9-1 Cortland State. When your only flaw is that you failed to score in overtime against the conference champion, that there is a textbook Pool C case. Certainly there's the QoWI and other numbers for a reason. But if teams in conferences like the IIAC and NJAC go practically 9-0-1, they should be among the first at-large teams selected. Let's hope the committee is able to exercise a little common sense if Wartburg and Cortland handle business. Then again, if there are eight or nine legitimate Pool C arguments for seven bids, someone who seems deserving is going to have to bite the dust.

Season in review
Around the Nation will begin accepting brief suggestions from readers (and players, coaches and school-affliated professionals) for our 2006 Year-in-Review, due out in January 2007. Use last year's review (linked at the top right-hand corner, posted Jan. 25, 26 and 27) as a guide for which categories we're looking to fill, or make up your own. ATN cannot promise public credit for your suggestions this year, and we may or may not use them. 

But if you think Sul Ross State was the surprise team of '06 or Luther was the biggest disappointment, let us know (contact information, as always, is below). We'd like to hear your games of the year, plays of the year, players, coaches and things, but most importantly, your off-the-beaten path nominations and suggestions. Things we haven't covered much or would have no way of knowing about are where you can help most.

Around the Nation is largely interactive, and since its inception has made reader feedback a part of the column. We keep a running board on Post Patterns (under general football) to discuss issues raised in the column, and we'll share feedback and answer questions there, as well as in the column occasionally. Send all correspondence to keith@d3football.com, or use our feedback form.

What the eyes can see 
Around the Nation is searching for video of playoff teams in order to help us handicap the field. Anyone with access to footage, please send an e-mail to keith@d3football.com. Games against tough opponents, especially other playoff teams, are preferred.

We are always looking for video of anything Division III football-related. That means we'd like to get our hands on documentaries, local cable broadcasts and re-airs, links to archived broadcasts and coaches' tapes. Arrangements can be made to not share coaches' footage or to pay fans for shipping and materials. 

For print, radio and Internet journalists
Keith McMillan is available, by appointment, on Thursdays and Fridays to talk Division III football. For more information, e-mail Keith.

Attention SIDs
As always, Around the Nation requests media guides and any other aids in helping us cover your school or conference this season. For more information, contact Keith McMillan at keith@d3football.com, or snail mail to D3football.com, 13055 Carolyn Forest Dr., Woodbridge, Va., 22192.

Links to online media guides are now preferred over mail. In addition, please do not add my e-mail address to your regular release lists, but instead use our news release capabilities to have your information posted on our front page and your team' s page. For more information on how that works and how we can help each other, contact publisher and editor Pat Coleman at info@d3football.com. Thank you.