NPU doesn't want to be Wheaton in anything, aside from the size of the school's bank account. We have our own identity, our own mission, and our own way of doing things, thankyouverymuch. Wheaton is not the be-all and end-all of Christian colleges, you know, nor is it the template that every other Christian college administration seeks to imitate.
That's a fair statement. My reference is to the soccer team specifically, and the athletics program in general.
I would question both of those propositions. The NPU men's soccer program doesn't appear to me to be following a Wheaton model at all. NPU does not play the same style of game as Wheaton (the contrasting styles are part of what makes watching an NPU vs. WC contest so interesting), and the recruiting strategies of the two archrivals are, of course, radically different as well.
John Born would be the first to say how much he admires and respects Joe Bean. But admiring and respecting someone is one thing; imitating him is another. John's very much followed his own path to success with NPU soccer, and if he does
have a model upon which he's built the program (I'm not sure if he does or not), it doesn't appear to be Wheaton.
As far as athletics in general is concerned, I don't see NPU as a Wheaton wannabe in that category, either. I suppose you could argue in a generic sense that NPU does want to have the across-the-board success that Wheaton has enjoyed in athletics as a whole ... but, remember, Steve, it's your
alma mater and not your son's that has traditionally been the overall best in CCIW sports. If the league handed out All-Sports Trophies, Augustana would have enough of them to practically span the Mississippi River. So you could argue that NPU is an Augustana wannabe ... as is Wheaton, and Elmhurst, and Carthage, and everybody else.
(Including Augustana at the moment.
I don't have a strong beef with the other contentions other than that Wheaton appears to be set up for continued improvement--more so than North Park in the immediate future. Arguably North Park could claim the upper hand over the past three years (certainly they did better in 2010 and 2011), but in my view they need to sustain that level for a few more years to be called Wheaton's equal in soccer. I'll be quite surprised if Wheaton's young team doesn't have the upper hand for the next three years based on current personnel.
I think that that's premature. Wheaton probably does have the most strength in terms of returnees, but one thing about NPU is that many of the players John Born has recruited have showed up at Foster & Kedzie ready to play at a high level as far as the CCIW is concerned, the Swedish players in particular. I would not hand the 2013 trophy to Wheaton just yet.
As for who is equal to whom, that's basically a matter of opinion. How far back do you go? The whole process of determining who's the best in recent history is prone to selection bias. For example, NPU's the only CCIW program that's made the D3 tourney in each of the past three seasons, and the only CCIW program that's played in the league tourney championship game in each of the past three seasons as well. But my citing those numbers is an example of my
Over the past decade NPU has gone 7-6-3 against Wheaton. I'm pretty comfortable with saying that North Park is on equal footing with Wheaton now.