Author Topic: FB: College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin  (Read 4942476 times)

Offline CardinalAlum

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Re: FB: College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin
« Reply #37080 on: October 16, 2019, 12:43:01 am »
Greg, I am not trying to stir up the issue, but I can not understand why North Park can not at least be competitive. There were other schools like North Central based on their history that were bad in the 1960's through the early 1970's and had some mediocre stretches until their long run now. They overcame it with coaching and going out and finding players. Their facilities were not what they are like now.

There were other schools like Carthage and Millikin that had their cities economies hurt in downswings, but have seemed to recover and are competitive. Most small schools are actively trying to get football student-athletes in to keep enrollment from dwindling. I am surprised that North Park is not trying to strengthen the football program.

Here comes the annual answer to this question... Greg probably has it saved away so he can cut and paste it.

Actually I may have it copied out somewhere and I'm not affiliated with NPU.  ;)

LOL! I keep meaning to save it, but something always comes up to distract me. ;)

I did a search of the past umpteen times I've cited the reasons for NPU's non-competitiveness in football, which led to some interesting trips down memory lane. My favorite was in October 2008, a particularly fertile period for this board both in terms of quantity and quality of posters that featured such quips as Mugsy posting red footnotes on a post in order to appease CardinalAlum, USee coining the term "Okturnoverfest", and Chuck predicting that NPU would snap its long CCIW losing streak by beating Millikin, leading me to retort, "The only thing worse than a gypsy curse is a Ypsi curse."

Okay, cciw83, here's my latest version:

North Park suffers from a lot of deficiencies in terms of its football program -- f'rinstance, a lack of financial and facilities resources as compared to many of its CCIW peers; a 50-year-old losing tradition that turns off prospects and keeps high-school coaches from encouraging their kids to look into NPU; and a terrible retention rate whose biggest cause is the refusal of players to return just to suffer another season's worth of punishing losses. They all contribute to the problem. But other schools face those same problems, or problems like them. So why can't NPU just do what North Central did when it addressed its own dismal gridiron history by hiring John Thorne, which is when the Cardinals "overcame it with coaching and going out and finding players"?

What makes North Park different is location. NPU is an urban school. High school football is a suburban sport. High school football in the city of Chicago has been dead for generations. Aside from some still-solid Catholic League programs such as Mt. Carmel and St. Rita, and an occasional stray player on a Public League team here or there, the city is 227.63 square miles of teenage wasteland as far as prep football players are concerned. It's not that the city lacks good high school athletes; on the contrary, half of the college basketball coaches in America spend time recruiting the gyms of the Windy City every year. That's just it, though; the good high school athletes play basketball, not football. Public League basketball teams get 200 kids to try out every season, football teams get 40 or so (if they're lucky) and will gladly take each and every one, no matter how unathletic the kid is. (In Hispanic-majority high schools, substitute the soccer team for the basketball team.)

Some of that is culture, but most if it is resources. Unless you have middle-class parents or a scholarship that will get you into a St. Ignatius or a St. Rita or a Mount Carmel, if you're a city kid who wants to play football, you're going to be practicing in a garbage- and glass-strewn public park, hitting ancient tackling dummies with the stuffing coming out of them while wearing uniforms and helmets that are a decade old. You will not have attended football skills camps during the summer, because your parent or parents cannot afford to send you to one. And, with youth football leagues practically nonexistent in the city, you've probably never played organized football before until you tried out for your high school team. Your team probably has three coaches, maybe four, and they have other responsibilities at school besides football -- or perhaps they're a local cab driver or construction worker or pastor who loves the game and loves kids and tries to fit in helping out as an assistant coach in between their other commitments.

And if, in spite of all of those obstacles, you still want to go to college to continue playing football, you're faced with the fact that your high school may not have prepared you for the academic rigor of a CCIW education. And that's not to mention the fact that your family clearly can't afford that CCIW education, which means incurring a bewildering amount of debt if you choose to go to a private college and play football. I get so excited when a North Park football player who hails from the city gets to his senior year, cciw83, because that kid has already overcome obstacles that you and I couldn't even begin to fathom just to get to that point.

Bottom line: You can't base a college football program on Chicago kids. You have to either go where most CCIW coaches go to find their players, which is the Chicagoland suburbs, or else go further afield than that. And that comes to the other problem NPU has, which is that most suburban 18-year-olds do not want to go to college in the big city. Ironically, a lot of suburban 23- and 24-year-olds want to live on the city's North Side, because it's exciting and stimulating and full of other young Michigan or Illinois or Ohio State or Wisconsin grads, and there's a much livelier social scene than there is back in their sleepy suburb -- but the typical suburban teen blanches at the thought of going someplace as strange and as dangerous as Chicago to attend school, and a lot of their moms and dads don't encourage them to look at North Park (or DePaul, or Loyola, or UIC, or Roosevelt), anyway.

That's not an issue in other sports; good NPU coaches have been able to locate talent in the suburbs that's willing to go to a city school, as well as find talent elsewhere. But other NPU coaches don't have to bring in 40-50 new players every year the way that the football coach has to. And that, right there, is where the rubber hits the road -- if you can't bring in at least 30 guys every year who have definite CCIW potential, then you will fail to win in this league. It's as simple as that.

The last two NPU head coaches, to their credit, have tried some out-of-the-box thinking to get around this giant obstacle. Scott Pethtel adopted the triple-option offense, with the thought that he could thus tap into a talent pool (small-town and rural Illinois and Indiana, which is where most triple-option football is played in these parts on the high school level because of the lack of big kids in those tiny farming-community schools) that coaches of more conventional programs aren't recruiting. It was a great idea, but it didn't work; he simply couldn't bring in the critical mass of recruits on the offensive side of the ball that he needed, most likely because rural Illinois has been undergoing such hard times over the past twenty years. Downstate Illinois is suffering from a mass exodus, and most of the kids who still live down there can't afford a private-school education. His successor, Mike Conway, tried opening new out-of-state recruiting areas. He hit the Austin, TX and Miami, FL areas hard, but his most noteworthy success was in American Samoa and Hawaii, where he had real breakthroughs in terms of finding talent pools that were almost totally untapped by other D3 programs. But, again, there just wasn't enough of a critical mass there. NPU has brought some great Pacific Islander football players to campus in recent years; a few of them (George Tafua, Uluao Letuli, Uati Pati, etc.) are still there even though Mike's gone. But the new recruiting markets weren't a cure-all.

It's hard to envision how NPU could ever get away from the necessity to work the suburban high schools for the bulk of its roster like everybody else in the CCIW (except Wheaton and Wash U) does. If Kyle Rooker ever figures it out, he'll be on the fast track to a D1 head coaching job, because he will have done what none of his sixteen predecessors over the past 50 years have been able to do: Construct a Vikings roster that is both talented enough and deep enough to win more games than it loses.

Would hiring a Chicago legend like Frank Lenti give NPU the boost it needs?
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Offline Gregory Sager

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Re: FB: College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin
« Reply #37081 on: October 16, 2019, 11:52:08 am »
Would hiring a Chicago legend like Frank Lenti give NPU the boost it needs?

No. Even someone like Frank Lenti can't squeeze blood from a stone. There simply aren't enough football players in the city who have the combination of physical ability, academic qualifications, and economic resources to allow a CCIW football team to build a roster core with them.

That doesn't mean that Kyle Rooker isn't going to recruit city kids. He's actually being very intentional about going after them, if they fit the bill. Some of NPU's best players, such as All-CCIW DB Gary Anish (injured, unfortunately), DB/KR Daekwon Derry (ditto), and DT Harold Alexander, are Chicagoans.
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Offline HOPEful

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Re: FB: College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin
« Reply #37082 on: October 16, 2019, 01:08:39 pm »
Although I understand the analysis of NP and why they can't field a better football team, but by that very logic, why isn't their basketball program better?
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Offline Gregory Sager

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Re: FB: College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin
« Reply #37083 on: October 16, 2019, 05:29:23 pm »
NPU won the CCIW championship in men's basketball a mere three seasons ago, HOPEful. The current downturn has nothing to do with institutional circumstances.
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Offline formerd3db

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Re: FB: College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin
« Reply #37084 on: October 16, 2019, 08:43:54 pm »
NPU won the CCIW championship in men's basketball a mere three seasons ago, HOPEful. The current downturn has nothing to do with institutional circumstances.
Although I understand the analysis of NP and why they can't field a better football team, but by that very logic, why isn't their basketball program better?

So, it is basically one of those cyclic downturns that just happens occasionally to any school? :)
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Offline Gregory Sager

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Re: FB: College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin
« Reply #37085 on: October 17, 2019, 12:03:46 am »
It's best discussed on the CCIW men's basketball board, not here.
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Offline HOPEful

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Re: FB: College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin
« Reply #37086 on: October 17, 2019, 07:16:19 am »
NPU won the CCIW championship in men's basketball a mere three seasons ago, HOPEful. The current downturn has nothing to do with institutional circumstances.

The basketball team has gone 4-12, 5-20, 18-8, 14-11, 15-10, and 6-19 over the past 6 seasons. One could argue that the anomaly was the 18-8 season and that Jordan Robinson had more to do with that success than the institution.

I just don't fully buy the argument that at the college level your football program's ability to be competitive relies on your geographic location. If a school and it's football program are attractive enough to recruits, they will come. Mount Union's roster is loaded with players from all over the country. Because they want to be a part of that program.
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Offline formerd3db

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Re: FB: College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin
« Reply #37087 on: October 17, 2019, 09:57:55 am »
It's best discussed on the CCIW men's basketball board, not here.

From time to time, there have been other temporary diversions for discussion of topics on other sports on all of these boards.  I don't think anyone has a problem with that and the questions did have some relation to the general topic of the college(s) abilities to attract recruits, even though the main discussion was about football.  Regardless, indeed, the various sports boards were created for those specific sports.  Of course, this can be moved over the MBB board. So, we'll look for your answers about the current state of NP basketball there.   
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Offline Gregory Sager

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Re: FB: College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin
« Reply #37088 on: October 17, 2019, 12:52:57 pm »
NPU won the CCIW championship in men's basketball a mere three seasons ago, HOPEful. The current downturn has nothing to do with institutional circumstances.

The basketball team has gone 4-12, 5-20, 18-8, 14-11, 15-10, and 6-19 over the past 6 seasons. One could argue that the anomaly was the 18-8 season and that Jordan Robinson had more to do with that success than the institution.

That argument doesn't make sense, as it doesn't address the point at all.

First of all, however, there were two All-Americans on that team, not one. Juwan Henry ended his career with 2,040 points, making him the second-leading scorer in NPU history and the 15th-leading scorer in CCIW history. Plus, All-CCIW guard Colin Lake, who was also on that team, ended his career with 1,404 points.

Whether anomalous or not, nobody wins the CCIW -- one of the two or three top men's basketball leagues in all of D3 -- by accident, and, certainly, nobody wins it on the strength of one player. The Vikings had two really outstanding players who were the leading lights of two back-to-back strong years of recruiting, and over a three-year period those two classes built up to the point where they were able to win a share of a league that can only be won over the course of 16 games by one of the top ten percent of D3 men's basketball teams.

Nobody's arguing that institutional circumstances won that championship. I'm simply saying that institutional circumstances aren't the cause of NPU's two poor seasons since the title, either.

I just don't fully buy the argument that at the college level your football program's ability to be competitive relies on your geographic location.

Whether you "buy" it or not is irrelevant, because in North Park's case it's the truth. It's not the only reason -- losing tends to beget losing, and the longer the losing goes on the harder it is to reverse it because of the accumulated weight of skepticism on the recruiting trail, plus there's the facts that, all other things being equal, football is by far the hardest sport in which to turn around a losing program, and the CCIW is one heckuva tough football conference in which to climb out of the cellar -- but NPU's location is the biggest reason for the school's chronic inability to compete in football.

You also seem to be deriving general principles from a statement that did not address general principles. I'm not speaking about any football-playing school in any location; I'm speaking about North Park being located in Chicago.

I don't think that you've demonstrated enough knowledge about the demographics of high school football -- especially Chicagoland high school football -- to make a judgment as to how much NPU's location weighs into the equation. Perhaps I'm wrong, and you do have first- or second-hand expertise when it comes to this specific topic. If so, please share it with us.

If a school and it's football program are attractive enough to recruits, they will come. Mount Union's roster is loaded with players from all over the country. Because they want to be a part of that program.

That response says nothing. Of course players from all over the country want to play for Mount Union. Just as losing begets losing, winning begets winning. That's a meaningless comparison.

You've unconsciously restated my point, though, which is about a school attracting prospects. There's more to choosing a school than winning and losing, and the simple fact of the matter is that most suburban Chicagoland kids do not want to attend a school in the city. I know this because I've spent four decades in and around NPU as a student and as an employee, and I have a long list of school administrators, coaches, and admissions employees who've told me this. What's more, I know people who have worked for DePaul and Loyola who've said the same thing.

Chicago is a wonderful city. I've chosen to live my entire adult life here. I didn't grow up here, but I remained here after college, and I've never wanted to live anyplace else. North Park has had the opportunity to relocate to the suburbs, as Trinity International University did back in 1961; the school's major donor at the time, A. Harold Anderson, offered a free gift of 60 acres of land in north suburban Bannockburn (ironically, not too far from TIU's relocated campus) in the '70s, and North Park's Board of Directors turned him down. It was the best decision the school ever made. Being an evangelical school that doesn't require its students to be evangelicals that is located in a world-class city is a unique niche for North Park among American colleges and universities, and the vast majority of NPU students chose the school because it's in the city. It's not a clich้ or a marketing slogan to say that the city is one of North Park's primary classrooms; Chicago really is a major part of the school's pulse and functionality as well as its biggest draw.

But that same city, which has notoriously become national news fodder for its constant barrage of shootings (in neighborhoods that aren't located anywhere near the NPU campus), scares and/or puts off many suburban teens who are considering colleges and universities. And others simply don't have an interest in urban life, or they really like and prefer the familiar surroundings of a suburb or a small city. That's not an indictment of them; finding a school is in large part a matter of finding one's own comfort zone for a lot of people, and there's nothing wrong with that. Only a small percentage of teenagers are actually looking to be challenged by a new environment and are willing to step out of the familiar when choosing a college. (Of course, moving onto a college campus is in itself a change of environment even if it's in the same setting as where you grew up; that's change enough for most collegians.)

Again, this is not a serious impediment to NPU in most sports. Heck, over on the soccer section of d3boards.com there are posters who have made negative comments about the fact that NPU's men's soccer roster has been so freakin' huge over the past two seasons, with well over 50 players on the roster in 2018-19 and in 2019-20. (D3 men's soccer rosters usually have around 30 players.) But it is a serious impediment in football, because of the huge necessary demand for players every year. The sheer size of an incoming football class -- as I said, it takes 30 CCIW-quality recruits per year in order to compete in this league in football -- militates against any school that by necessity has to draw most of its recruits from the Chicagoland suburbs but which is located in an undesirable environment by majority suburban teenager (or the majority of parents of suburban teenagers) standards.

It's best discussed on the CCIW men's basketball board, not here.

From time to time, there have been other temporary diversions for discussion of topics on other sports on all of these boards.  I don't think anyone has a problem with that and the questions did have some relation to the general topic of the college(s) abilities to attract recruits, even though the main discussion was about football.  Regardless, indeed, the various sports boards were created for those specific sports.  Of course, this can be moved over the MBB board. So, we'll look for your answers about the current state of NP basketball there.   

I don't mind discussing the general state of NPU athletic recruiting here. But HOPEful's specific comments about NPU's recent fortunes in men's basketball really are not pertinent to this board. The CCIW men's basketball board is one of the busiest on d3boards.com as a whole, and there's all kinds of fruitful conversation to be had there on that topic if he wants it.
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Offline formerd3db

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Re: FB: College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin
« Reply #37089 on: October 17, 2019, 01:05:40 pm »

I don't mind discussing the general state of NPU athletic recruiting here. But HOPEful's specific comments about NPU's recent fortunes in men's basketball really are not pertinent to this board. The CCIW men's basketball board is one of the busiest on d3boards.com as a whole, and there's all kinds of fruitful conversation to be had there on that topic if he wants it.

Okay, Greg.  Then let's just petition Pat about instituting a rule to allow only discussing a sport (in ALL aspects) for that sport's specific board. ::)
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Offline Gregory Sager

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Re: FB: College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin
« Reply #37090 on: October 17, 2019, 01:29:02 pm »

I don't mind discussing the general state of NPU athletic recruiting here. But HOPEful's specific comments about NPU's recent fortunes in men's basketball really are not pertinent to this board. The CCIW men's basketball board is one of the busiest on d3boards.com as a whole, and there's all kinds of fruitful conversation to be had there on that topic if he wants it.

Okay, Greg.  Then let's just petition Pat about instituting a rule to allow only discussing a sport (in ALL aspects) for that sport's specific board. ::)

Did iwu70 commandeer your login? ;)

I'm not being hardcore about this. Again, I'm simply saying that the CCIW men's basketball board is a better place to discuss a CCIW men's basketball issue. I know that there are lots of posters and lurkers who frequent this board who are just here for football.
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Re: FB: College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin
« Reply #37091 on: October 17, 2019, 08:33:42 pm »

I don't mind discussing the general state of NPU athletic recruiting here. But HOPEful's specific comments about NPU's recent fortunes in men's basketball really are not pertinent to this board. The CCIW men's basketball board is one of the busiest on d3boards.com as a whole, and there's all kinds of fruitful conversation to be had there on that topic if he wants it.

Okay, Greg.  Then let's just petition Pat about instituting a rule to allow only discussing a sport (in ALL aspects) for that sport's specific board. ::)

Did iwu70 commandeer your login? ;)

I'm not being hardcore about this. Again, I'm simply saying that the CCIW men's basketball board is a better place to discuss a CCIW men's basketball issue. I know that there are lots of posters and lurkers who frequent this board who are just here for football.

I don't think he did?! ;D

That is fine. Yet, again, a tangential non-football topic often does come up on any of these boards among non-lurkers i.e. regular posters on their boards, and as far as I can tell, most people don't mind that even if it is more suited to the actual sport specific board.  But despite your conviction, I see you did go ahead and essentially answer HOPEful's question. :o  We'll thank you for making an exception this time.  :)
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Offline HOPEful

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Re: FB: College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin
« Reply #37092 on: October 18, 2019, 07:36:59 am »
Good grief. The question was never about basketball. It was about the ridiculous notion that the only reason North Park is bad at football is because the school is in intercity Chicago. You even said so yourself Greg, that "a lack of financial and facilities resources as compared to many of its CCIW peers; a 50-year-old losing tradition that turns off prospects and keeps high-school coaches from encouraging their kids to look into NPU; and a terrible retention rate" plague the program.

The CCIW is a conference full of schools with healthy endowments and gorgeous sports facilities. Perhaps potential recruits would embrace, or even be enticed to leave suburbia for the city, if not for the bigger above issues.
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Offline Pat Coleman

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Re: FB: College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin
« Reply #37093 on: October 18, 2019, 09:51:20 am »

I don't mind discussing the general state of NPU athletic recruiting here. But HOPEful's specific comments about NPU's recent fortunes in men's basketball really are not pertinent to this board. The CCIW men's basketball board is one of the busiest on d3boards.com as a whole, and there's all kinds of fruitful conversation to be had there on that topic if he wants it.

Okay, Greg.  Then let's just petition Pat about instituting a rule to allow only discussing a sport (in ALL aspects) for that sport's specific board. ::)

I think the concept of on-topic is pretty self-explanatory and shouldn't need me stating so.
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Offline Gregory Sager

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Re: FB: College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin
« Reply #37094 on: October 18, 2019, 11:28:21 am »
Good grief. The question was never about basketball. It was about the ridiculous notion that the only reason North Park is bad at football is because the school is in intercity Chicago. You even said so yourself Greg, that "a lack of financial and facilities resources as compared to many of its CCIW peers; a 50-year-old losing tradition that turns off prospects and keeps high-school coaches from encouraging their kids to look into NPU; and a terrible retention rate" plague the program.



Good grief, indeed. It is amazing how badly you've misread what I've written.

In one sentence you accuse me of saying that the only reason North Park is bad at football is because it's located in Chicago (I have no idea what the term "intercity Chicago" is supposed to mean). The next sentence you quote me as disproving what you just accused me of saying in the first sentence: ""a lack of financial and facilities resources as compared to many of its CCIW peers; a 50-year-old losing tradition that turns off prospects and keeps high-school coaches from encouraging their kids to look into NPU; and a terrible retention rate".

But I never said that NPU's location is "the only reason why North Park is bad at football" in this or any other conversation on the topic. On the contrary, this is what I've said since cciw83 brought up the issue three days ago:

North Park suffers from a lot of deficiencies in terms of its football program -- f'rinstance, a lack of financial and facilities resources as compared to many of its CCIW peers; a 50-year-old losing tradition that turns off prospects and keeps high-school coaches from encouraging their kids to look into NPU; and a terrible retention rate whose biggest cause is the refusal of players to return just to suffer another season's worth of punishing losses. They all contribute to the problem.

(emphasis added)

Whether you "buy" it or not is irrelevant, because in North Park's case it's the truth. It's not the only reason -- losing tends to beget losing, and the longer the losing goes on the harder it is to reverse it because of the accumulated weight of skepticism on the recruiting trail, plus there's the facts that, all other things being equal, football is by far the hardest sport in which to turn around a losing program, and the CCIW is one heckuva tough football conference in which to climb out of the cellar -- but NPU's location is the biggest reason for the school's chronic inability to compete in football.

(emphasis added again)

For crying out loud ...

The CCIW is a conference full of schools with healthy endowments and gorgeous sports facilities. Perhaps potential recruits would embrace, or even be enticed to leave suburbia for the city, if not for the bigger above issues.

Some of them are enticed. If you'd look at the NPU athletics website and check the rosters of the various Vikings teams, you'd see that plenty of the school's student-athletes hail from the suburbs. In fact, it's been the major source of North Park's student-athletes since the late '60s, at least.

Nineteen of the 81 Vikings listed on the online football roster are from homes located within commuting distance to Chicago. That's pretty comparable to the two other large rosters on campus, which are the men's soccer team (18 suburbanites) and the baseball team (10 suburbanites). The whole point that I'm making, though, is that it isn't enough. The Chicagoland suburbs, as I keep saying over and over again, are where the players are. Heck, even Wheaton, which doesn't make it a point to focus on suburban Chicagoland recruiting, has 21 suburbanites on its roster. Wash U, which has a national reach in terms of its recruiting because it's one of America's elite universities and thus doesn't need to focus upon Chicago's 'burbs, either, has 21 suburban Chicagolanders on its roster.

I said right off the bat that NPU's lag in resources by CCIW standards was a handicap for the football program. Despite what you've asserted, I've never said otherwise. But, as cciw83 said, a resources lag can be overcome in terms of building a football program, as long as there's not too huge of an existing gap between your school and its competitors. (North Central didn't have great facilities in the pre-Thorne era, but NCC wasn't light-years behind the rest of the CCIW in that respect, either.) But the gap that can't be overcome is cultural in terms of the campus setting.
"Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful..” -- John Wooden