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Messages - jknezek

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Region 3 football (South Atlantic-ish) / Re: FB: Region 3 fan poll
« on: Yesterday at 09:45:34 pm »
Trinity finally claims the top spot with 5 of 6 1st place votes. Hardin-Simmons falls but stays easily inside the poll. UMHB stays in despite being the only non-unanimous pick.

Surprisingly, to me anyway, Averett picks up 2 votes. Considering their opponents are 2-10 on the season, it will be interesting to see what they can do with their first opponent likely to finish at or above .500 this week.

Region 3 (South Atlantic-Ish) Fan Poll Week 4
Conferences: ASC, ODAC, SAA, USASAC
Weekly Change
Voter Breakdown
Trinity (TX) (5)
1 , 4 , 1 , 1 , 1 , 1
Berry (1)
2 , 1 , 3 , 5 , 2 , 4
4 , 3 , 2 , 3 , 3 , 2
5 , 5 , 4 , 4 , 5 , 5
Howard Payne
6 , 2 , 6 , 6 , 6 , 3
3 , 7 , 2 , 4
7 , 6 , 5 , 7 , 7 , 6

Also Receiving Votes:
Averett (2)

Newly Ranked: None
Dropped Out: None

1 = 1st Place Vote, 7 = 7th Place Vote in Voter Breakdown
Special Thanks to the Voters: jknezek, BSCpanthers, Wild Horse Rider, Ralph Turner, Cowboy2, Hawks88

Big games this week:

It's 1vsT2 in Georgia, as Trinity travels to Berry.
It's 4vs5 in Texas as Hardin-Simmons hosts Howard Payne

Men's soccer / Re: 2023 D3 Men's Soccer National Perspective
« on: September 24, 2023, 06:01:52 pm »

On a more pessimistic note, this place may not just be dying, but already dead.  Very minimal activity, during two big days of soccer, now 3-4 weeks into the season.  Maybe a few of us keep frantically trying to defibrillate the patient well past any meaningful chance of a revival.  There has been the suggestion that traffic and interest would increase if some of the more active posters like myself took up less space and grabbed some pine.  I don't think that is it, but certainly anything is worth trying at this juncture.  The medium in part may be just too anachronistic, but I don't know of other options where posters can react and respond and a whole community of lurkers and posters can see the content and jump in or not. 

3-4 weeks in and we haven't heard a single word about  We knew last year was the last year for incumbent owners, but we literally have not seen anything about the status of ownership, why there hasn't been a transfer, and why a site can't be created with or something very similar updated to the 2020s that includes a good message board platform.

You may have neard crickets because there is no transfer. Who wants to take this on? I can't imagine the site traffic and advertising covered the costs.

Region 3 football (South Atlantic-ish) / Re: FB: Region 3 fan poll
« on: September 23, 2023, 07:49:18 am »
Somehow I still expect Trinity won’t be a unanimous vote this week. Embarrassing effort by HSU. Expect UMHB to roll over them, despite their start. But Howard Payne might roll UMHB.

Well... given a decent win, they will get my vote back. I was really wrong in my thoughts on both Hardin-Simmons and Endicott.

4 turnovers and an inability to move the ball through the air at all according to the stats. yikes. Anyone know what the travel arrangements were?

QB1 injured very early, tried to play a few series but had no lower body support, QB 2 not ready for prime time, QB 3 not ready for any time.

Unfortunately injuries are part of the game. Endicott is a good team. Either a lot better than I expected or Hardin-Simmons is not as good as I thought. Probably both to be fair...

4 turnovers and an inability to move the ball through the air at all according to the stats. yikes. Anyone know what the travel arrangements were?

Endicott is playing inspired football. They are leading 24-3 with 6:58 in the 3rd Q.

Good thing I'm not a betting man, I'd have lost a lot on this game.

Men's soccer / Re: 2023 D3 Men's Soccer National Perspective
« on: September 22, 2023, 04:31:25 pm »

Agree with all of this even if it doesn't really assess the significance (or lack thereof) of that 2014 match.

And since you brought it up, why DO you live in Alabama lol??!

Probably because I don't consider that particular match all that significant for Messiah. More so for Tufts because I agree it's easier to win when you already have proven you can do it. Breaking through is hard. But I think around that time, and I'm surprised it didn't happen a few years earlier, the democratization of D3 soccer was in full swing. I just think Messiah had such a mystique that it took a few years longer than it should have for the mystique to diminish as talent spread. And yes, I mean diminish. There is still a mystique about Messiah, well-earned as they are one of the best and, in my opinion, consistently the most beautiful team to watch in D3.

And I live in AL because my job is here. I left the north east for South Florida for a job, lived there for a few years, met and married my wife there, and then the office was closed and we were moved up here. Alabama has it's good points and it's bad points, like everywhere else, but I will forever be a yankee to the people here. And even my kids, born here, will always be outsiders since they were born to a yankee. I do, however, find living in a drastically different part of the country from where I grew up very broadening and helpful. It helps explain a lot about our nation right now.

Men's soccer / Re: 2023 D3 Men's Soccer National Perspective
« on: September 22, 2023, 04:13:24 pm »
Btw, this a question for some of the old-timers (and anyone)...and please chime in if you think this is hyperbolic and/or unfair.

Tufts was not better than Messiah in 2014...very, very good and that day good enough but 2012-2014 Messiah had just fantastic teams who I would guess could have finished mid-table or better in the Patriot League.  Tufts scored like in the first minute.  Messiah cleared a ball to only outside the 18 where Tufts legend and midfield maestro, Jason Kayne, one-timed a half-volley top shelf.  Messiah threw the kitchen sink at Tufts but could not break through to score.  Messiah fans will point out that the match was played on Muhlenberg's infamous turf.

So the question...was that game/moment program-altering (and even D3 landscape-altering) for either, both, or none.  I don't think it takes a lot of hyperbole to say all three. 

Tufts experienced the feeling of being a champion (barely, barely got a bid that year too), and went on to win three more in a four year period (a feat only Messiah had matched or exceeded at least in the past 25 years).  Not saying Tufts didn't have great players and they obviously has a brilliant coach, but I think winning that game changed the Jumbo culture, just like with Messiah, winning every single year became the expectation.

Messiah has won only once title since that game when at worst they probably were supposed to win every other year.  The next year of 2015 Amherst won.  Then Tufts won again in 2016.  Messiah won in 2017...a year when I think Tufts got knocked out of Bello Field by Brandeis in double OT that at least most of Tufts Nation considered fluky.  Then back to Tufts for 2018 and 2019.  And after Covid year, Conn Coll and Chicago have claimed titles.  We at least currently are in a new era where there isn't an almost automatic endorsement of Messiah vs The Field.

In truth, I doubt Messiah has changed much at all, but maybe has forced Falcon Nation to calibrate things a little differently.

And certainly the overall landscape still has its favorites every year, but the sense that you don't have to be Messiah (or Tufts) to win a title imo has really opened things up.

I think this is a long answer with a lot of factors.

For my money I think the "elite tier" of D3 soccer has just gotten broader and flatter, while the second tier has gotten so much larger. Messiah in the 00s and early teens was constantly in the top tier, but that top tier, the teams that could legitimately win a title, was maybe a cast of 4 or 5 schools that rotated, but Messiah was always there. By the start of the teens, I think that tier had expanded to 8 teams, with 4 or 5 being there regularly, or at least spending a considerable number of years in a row there. Now I think that tier is closer to 12, with 4 or 5 that are there consistently and then a rotating group.

As that group expands, and frankly the second tier gets deeper in quality, the odds of "upsets" increases, especially in a low scoring game like soccer that is not really the best for single-elimination tournaments. I don't think you are ever going to see another run like Messiah from 2000-2014. 10/14 championships in an NCAA style tournament is a dominance that I don't think, the way talent is evaluated and dispersed now, will ever be repeated.

Personally, any team that can win 2 titles in 5 years, with other years being Elite 8 or better, is probably a dynasty. I find Tufts run of 4 in 6 years to be almost comically against the odds these days. I can see teams winning back to back again, you get that special group of players and they win as mostly juniors and again as seniors. But beyond that? There is so much talent available, and so many more schools with the ability to find it.

I suspect Messiah will remain among the elites, but I suspect a championship every 5 years, maybe a repeat once in every 10 years, is going to be a darn good mark for D3 dynasties.

Now, why do I think this is true? Because the players across the country are so much better. My home town soccer club in NJ was founded in 1976. Those kids, from that very first year of inexperienced dads inspired by the NASL, went to college in the late 80s, early 90s. It was one of 4 clubs in two counties. I started playing in 1983 at 5 years old, and the league had grown to 12 clubs, and I promise you, every one of our coaches still had no idea what soccer was. The refs were all immigrants, and tactics were non-existent. My dad was watching VHS "learn to coach soccer" tapes in 1985, and he was still watching them while coaching me in 1994, just going up in age.

We had no clue how to play soccer and, except for the 1994 World Cup it wasn't on TV. I remember my dad hiring a soccer "tutor" for several members of our team when I was about 10, all the parents chipped in. It was a 70 year old Italian guy we couldn't understand who spent an hour with us and told us we couldn't beat 7 year olds in "the old country" and we weren't playing soccer, just kickball, and he wasn't able to coach such incompetence. We were runner-up NJ State Champs at the time.

When I went to W&L, class of 2000, it wasn't the tactics that kept me on the bench, they were no better than what I had picked up playing select and at various summer camps and in h.s., it was the athleticism. I had a good "soccer mind" for the time, having watched as many videos as my dad, but I couldn't kick and run with the college crowd. And I guarantee almost no one in D3 was looking for David Beckham, they were looking for Cobi Jones.

Contrast that to today, where the local club where I live now, required completion of all the U.S. Soccer grassroots classes to coach a 5 year old rec league team. In Alabama! A state where soccer is still often considered a communist plot. You want to coach an entry level travel team? D license. You want to coach a select travel team? C License. Every travel coach is paid, they share at least two teams in season, often 3, with assistants that coach away games.

In other words, these kids playing today have learned to play soccer. Maybe not as well as the rest of the world, with their academy systems that cover huge swathes of the country while ours covers a few urban areas, but they have learned more by 10 about "football" than I ever learned about "soccer". And the ones playing D3 aren't just the kids that made a h.s. team and could run. The recruiting process is different, the newer coaches are different, the pool is bigger, and schools like Messiah, with their wonderful recruiting niches, can get players they never dreamed of 20 years ago, but so can so many other schools.

I expect it will continue to get harder, and I suspect more and different schools will push through to the Elite 8. Not just because tournament soccer can be fluky, but because the barriers to good players have fallen and more and more good coaches grow up from the generations after mine that actually learned how to play football.

Men's soccer / Re: 2023 D3 Men's Soccer National Perspective
« on: September 22, 2023, 11:03:28 am »
(Is it bad that I subconsciously root against Mary Wash because driving through Fredericksburg on I95 is like dipping a toe into Hades?)

Dirty little secret of mine is that I root against my local h.s. football team because when they are good, Friday night home games make a mess of me being able to go anywhere. When they are bad, it's much more manageable. When my daughter starts marching in the band next year I'll have to change my tune, but for 15 years I've been rooting against them. Probably get me murdered down here in AL if the neighbors knew.

And one more post just because I'm having fun today.

W&L, all-time, is 547-550-39. The Generals are 3 games away from .500. That might not seem like a big deal, but it is. The last time W&L was .500 over it's history, was more than 50 years ago, in 1971 when they were 295-295-35. At one point, in the early to mid-2000s, W&L was 43 games below .500. So in the last 20 years, roughly, we have been +40. I'm really hoping to see the Generals break that .500 mark for all time.

So what changed? Well, we started playing more option, eventually going almost all option. I know some people hate the option. Hate watching it, hate playing against it. But running the option has given W&L a big boost, especially in ODAC play. It allows W&L to recruit athletes differently, and it has been a smart choice.

For many years W&L failed at trying to be better by going strength on strength. It hardly worked. Being better by being different... that has been a different story. Will it get W&L to the top of D3? I very much doubt it. At some point, teams have the athletes to simply smother the option. It's also challenging to win the first game of the season, or a game where a team is coming off a bye, as they get extra practice against the scheme. But for most weeks of the season, it has proven an advantage.

Sometimes the Generals capitalize on it, almost 40x more than they haven't over the last 20yrs. Sometimes either the other teams smother it or the playmakers just aren't there for a year or two. But overall, I enjoy W&L being different, and I certainly have enjoyed the winning that has come with it.

Men's soccer / Re: 2023 D3 Men's Soccer National Perspective
« on: September 21, 2023, 01:25:47 pm »
100%...and since I got caught up in or maybe even sparked some cantankerous exchanges, I am proof that maturity can still increase after age 55 (OK, after 60...boy that is hard to write because I feel like I'm 11).  As one example which honestly did make a difference for me....deciding that I could embrace and even like Sager, and once that kicked in, he also was far more generous with me.

I guess I'm like vinegar on fries. You hate the very thought of it, and can't understand how anyone else could like it, until you wake up one day and suddenly realize that you're too old for ketchup. ;)

Oh man... them's fighting words to any Brits on here. And I love vinegar on fries, but I'll be darned if I can drink warm beer. Though to be fair, I don't much care for cold beer either.

Just a quick thought on a different topic. Coach Favret retiring from H-SC after the season.

Mixed feelings here. Coach Favret is an amazing coach. As an offensive coordinator at Catholic he helped take them to heights they have yet to revisit. He almost immediately turned around a moribund H-SC team and turned them into an ODAC power. Many of his offenses in the mid-naughts through early teens were juggernauts. He deserves every accolade H-SC, the ODAC, Virginia Writers and more have bestowed on him.

But since the mid-teens, it's been more of a struggle. How much of that has to do with outside factors I'll never know. But changing over coaches, provided they can bring in the right one, might reinvigorate the program, or narrow the challenges that shifted H-SC's path since 2014.

Interestingly, it leaves Coach Arruza at R-MC as the lone ODAC coach of a school's most recent "glory days". R-MC seems, of course, still well in the midst of theirs. But Coach Clarke was gone from Bridgewater after the '20 season, Coach Abell left W&L after '17 for Davidson, and now Coach Favret is leaving. That leaves only W&L's Coach LeRose (1-2021), other than Coach Arruza (4 and counting, but not counting the COVID season, sorry), as active coaches with an ODAC title. The last time someone besides Favret, Arruza, Clarke, Abell or LeRose won a conference title was 2006, W&L's Coach Mirriello. Before that you have to go back to 2000 and E&H's legendary Coach Wacker.

It has been a changing of the guard for the ODAC, we will see how the newer coaches stack up. So far Coach LeRose has one title and Coach Lemn was knocking on the door last year after a rebuilding in 2021.

Perhaps whoever takes on the difficult task of following Coach Favret will set the ODAC up to be an even bigger brawl week in and out.

Men's soccer / Re: 2023 D3 Men's Soccer National Perspective
« on: September 21, 2023, 12:37:05 pm »
Thanks for that.

So it's either narcissism or vengeance, and in the worst cases both lol.

One example closer to you...Another Mom is the most frequent W&L poster.  Last year a couple of parents from the team contacted me and had some back and forth via private messaging if that's what they call it and some emailing.  I can assure you they did not lack in confidence...and one of them put together a post before W&L played Kenyon that analyzed the entire Kenyon starting 11 with detail and insight I could never approximate.  And Another Mom strikes me as neither a narcissist or vengeful.  She just happens to have a very soft spot for Amherst which drives me insane!  Other involved folks like yourself, Hopkins, Sierra, and even the great SC don't strike me as narcissists either.

And yes, I wonder why the high profile teams don't have more posting.  For starters, you would think almost every NESCAC would have a dozen or more...same for W&L, Kenyon, Calvin, North Park, Chicago (Maroons have a few), F&M, Montclair, Oneonta, etc, etc

Just for the first post. There has to be something that drives people to put themselves out in, what can be, an awkward way. After that it either becomes something of an addiction or you just don't do it again. Yes, I get emails also. I've been the lone consistent W&L poster on the football boards since I started. Sometimes someone comes on for a season or two, and then goes away again. Usually a parent. But no one has really stuck, and once the athlete graduates they all disappear to the next thing in life. As for soccer, Another Mom has way more insight into W&L than I have ever had, so I'm happy she is carrying the flag. Hopefully someone will join her and the chain can be carried forward in a few years.

Another Mom -- any thoughts on a parent of a first year you can badger for the future?????? Just kidding, sort of.

One of the reason I'm not voting this year is I simply have too much going on to do the research. I'm happy you guys are putting in the time, and it's easy enough for me to put together the results, but I have neither the time nor desire to watch and consider Gustavus Adolphus vs St. Thomas (Tx). I've kept my eye on W&L, watched parts of two games, and read the posts just to keep my hand in. That's enough for me.

Men's soccer / Re: 2023 D3 Men's Soccer National Perspective
« on: September 21, 2023, 12:02:57 pm »

On another note, I find the customer base here interesting.  Most schools don't have anyone posting about them or on their behalf.  And those that do are usually limited to one or two who post regularly and "hang out" on the site a ton.  So when any of us are "the one" how did that come to be?  It's actually a tiny, tiny percentage of parents of teams and fans/alums who post here.  I assume many lurk without registering.  And it's so weird to see names online literally almost all day and night with no posts or very infrequently.  What are we all doing?  Hitting refresh over and over to see if there's a new post in a thread?  Obviously, I'm not criticizing, I mean how could I, but the dynamics of the self-selection process of who are here a lot are GenerallyInteresting to me haha.  There definitely is an intense addictive aspect (at least for me).

I think, like most message boards, it's a bit intimidating. Maybe I'm a parent so I follow my kid's team, and maybe know a little bit about the conference. But how does that stack up to this conversation? Not real well. You could be a parent of an AMCC team, or a NAC team, maybe CUNYAC and, honestly, you realize that no one talks about those schools until the playoffs role around and we briefly mention how we think the champion is a sacrificial lamb. Well, 90% of D3 teams get little or no airtime on these boards except the occasional sacrificial lamb comment because they are, essentially, irrelevant. Even in the CC, a solid top to bottom conference, if you are a parent of half or more of the teams, what is there to say?

I am somewhat surprised we don't get more parents from the consistently quality teams, or recent grads. But message boards are... old school. I'm not sure how many people search for them or really care. You keep in touch with your community, the parents, your fellow alums, on Twitter (uggh, X) or maybe Facebook, but do you really want to come on here and get into the discussion? Very few do.

Now do they sometimes watch the discussion? Sure. I suspect lots peak in when their team, or their kid's team, is doing well. Just to see what's being said. But feeling like you have something to add takes 1) some serious self-confidence (sometimes arrogance) or 2) an axe to grind a bit. I think one of my very first posts, if not my first, which was on the football boards, was monumentally stupid and Pat Coleman quite rightly called me on it.

These boards, especially football, have been shrinking since I joined 15 years ago. Posters leave and are hardly ever replaced. I thank Pat Coleman for keeping the lights on. He may not visit these soccer boards much, but he's very active in football and basketball (maybe other areas, but I don't visit those real often). He's been great for D3 and I hope that somehow we can find a way to reinvigorate this community.

I kind of wondered if taking up a fund to do some advertising on D3 school athletic websites might help for the whole family. Clearly too late for, which hasn't been a true part of that family for a while, but I feel like something needs to be done.


Region 3 football (South Atlantic-ish) / Re: FB: Region 3 fan poll
« on: September 21, 2023, 11:24:48 am »
No surprise that scheduling Mount Union didn't make Bethany or Averett or N.C. Wesleyan better, or a number of those other teams.

None of those teams was Randolph-Macon before playing Mount Union, so why would they be Randolph-Macon afterward?

We have a quote in financial markets that goes along the lines of "Past performance does not guarantee future performance" that we are required to make clear to customers when discussing investments. It's absolutely true and helps keep the shenanigans down. But we also all know that past performance is very, very indicative of what is likely to happen in the future.

Yes, it's easy to say R-MC is not Franklin or SJF or UW-O, and they are certainly not Averett or N.C. Wes. But the weight of evidence is scheduling up to the top tier really doesn't do anything for you. However, something like Trinity playing St. Johns, or Hardin-Simmons playing UW-L, second tier vs second tier (and yes, I put most of the WIAC in Tier 2), does seem to put your name out there when you win, or at least put up a darn good fight against that second tier. I'm fully on board with scheduling up 1 tier. I'm just not fully on board scheduling up 2 or 3 tiers. Since the tiers aren't hard and fast, and change every year, I know that's a difficult moving target.

But that's why I say consistently beat the better playoff teams around before you go challenging the Final Four contenders. R-MC has yet to do that. You believe they can, I'm skeptical they'd get away more than .500. But we will see. I expect R-MC to win the ODAC. If they do it undefeated, which given their schedule looks very, very possible if not likely, then I expect they will get a decent first round opponent. A second straight trip to the Sweet 16 and another good showing in that round, maybe even a win, which we both think they are capable of depending on matchup, would be a reputation changer for the YellowJackets.

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