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Are the purple powers bad for D3?

Yes
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No
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Author Topic: Are the Purple Powers bad for D3?  (Read 30025 times)

Offline bleedpurple

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Are the Purple Powers bad for D3?
« on: December 19, 2011, 07:42:49 pm »
This question comes up so often on the boards of different conferences that I thought it might be good to have a thread of it's own.  I apologize if this thread has been started elsewhere. 

Now my diatribe:

I have thought a lot about this question. Technically speaking, I think it is a red herring because the results of the playoff system should not be considered "good" or "bad" for the entirety of D3 based on which schools participate in the national championship.  Whichever teams advanced, they earned it on the field.  Obviously, any results would be better for some schools than others. It seems to me, for the particular schools who don't advance to the Stagg Bowl, the Purple Powers advancing shouldn't affect them any more negatively than any other schools making it instead of them. 

The most common argument I've heard is that fans are "sick" of watching the same two schools in the Stagg. I can understand that.  But in doing any serious level of analysis on "actual impact on D3", that would have to rank mighty low on any list.  Meanwhile, off the top of my head, I can think of three very tangible reasons that the Purple Powers have been GOOD for D3 football (I have no doubt I could think of more):

1. For seven years running, the showcase game has been competitive and a very high level of football, which should have done nothing but increase respect for D3.

2. Over the years, the noticeable talent of the skill players, the physical nature of the teams, and the excellent coaching have provided an opportunity for D3 coaches to approach a higher level of athlete and say, "consider us". A stud receiver near Dover or Belton or Crawfordsville watching Garcon or Shorts playing in the Stagg Bowl one year and in the NFL the next would surely take notice!  Even being able to point to Beaver or Kmic or Coppage, irrespective of the NFL, would have to help with high level recruits.  I don't buy that it ONLY helps UW-W or Mount. A good recruiter can surely turn this into a positive for his program relative to the quality of football at the D3 level.

3. Mount Union and UW-W has raised the bar of what alumni, fans, and even coaches themselves expect and demand from a program.  I believe Wesley, North Central, UMHB, Linfield, Wabash, St. Thomas, and Franklin (I know they've got a ways to go, but their coach impresses the heck out of me) are "all in" in staring down this challenge and are better programs because they are chasing down the purple powers.  I also THINK UW-LaCrosse and UW-Oshkosh are determined to get there.  I point to these schools as examples and not as an all-exhaustive list.  I'm sure there are others.

The first year, UW-W won a national title (2007), Mount Union had won 8 of the previous 11.  No one knew when anyone else would break through. UW-W has done it. Not because they are a public school or because they have a large enrollment.  It is because they have had the commitment to excellence, the drive, the vision, and very capable people in the administration and running the football program.  Remember, UW-W's commitment to excellence in the football program began in earnest back in the 1950's.  Perkins Stadium and excellent facilities was a dream born in the 1960's and given legitimacy by 5 conference championships in that decade. The dream became a reality in the 1970's and UW-W won three more conference championships. In the 1980's and 90's UW-W continued to improve facilities,  stayed committed to excellence, and won seven conference championships.  After subpar seasons in 1999, 2000, and 2001, winning seasons returned in 2002. In continuing their commitment to excellence, UW-W scheduled Mount in a home and home in 2002 and 2003 to find out what it took to get to the top nationally.  What has happened since 2005 is what has given rise to the question that prompted this thread.

After seeing the sacrifice so many have made to get UW-W to this level, it is a bit challenging to hear the complaints about the purple powers or the "enrollment/public school" rationalizations.  I know this is a MUCH more verbose response than some Mount or UW-W fans would use.  Maybe they have the right response when they say, "If you don't like it, get better!" I thought it may be more productive to give a more thoughtful response.

I'm not saying it will take any other program this long to reach the pinnacle.  I'm simply saying a whole lot has gone into UW-W reaching this level.
 
If nothing else, maybe this thread will give this question/complaint a new home (at least for awhile). Again, if it is a thread already, my apologies. 
« Last Edit: December 19, 2011, 07:46:27 pm by bleedpurple »
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Offline 02 Warhawk

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Re: Are the Purple Powers bad for D3?
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2011, 08:35:32 pm »
Yes
@popsofone

Offline jknezek

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Re: Are the Purple Powers bad for D3?
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2011, 09:01:48 am »
Having two dominant teams at a clearly different level is bad for DIII, and since the two dominant powers are the Purple Powers, yes they are bad for D3. However, it's not UWW and UMU that are bad, per se, it's just the situation that having only 2 dominant powers created that is bad. There are roughly 240 programs in DIII and, in any given year lately, 2 have a shot to win the national title with, maybe, 4 more having a longshot. Even using a generous number of 6 teams, you are talking 2.5% of the universe of DIII teams. Any sport that has so much imbalance is problematic simply because it indicates that playing field is massively unfair.

Think about it this way, 2.5% of D1 is approximately 3 teams. There are more teams in the SEC with a legitimate chance of winning a national title than there are in all of D3. Boring. Would you watch pro-football if only 1 team had a legitimate chance of winning the SuperBowl ever year (2.5% of 32 = .8). How about baseball, largely considered the most imbalanced pro league in the U.S., with 30 teams you are talking 1 team again. Would you watch if only the Yankees had a legitimate chance to win every year? Or how about the English Premier League or La Liga, two of the most imbalanced leagues globally. With around 20 teams you are again talking about only one team. La Liga has at least 2, 10% of the league, and the EPL currently has 4-6, the two Manchesters, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and possibly Spurs, an incredible 30%!

The thing is, all these leagues that are considered "imbalanced" have way greater depth at the top than D3 football, and that's just being generous giving 6 teams a shot every year. If there are only 2 teams, the numbers are incredibly pathetic and make for one of the largest competitive jokes across sports, something that ESPN harps on every year in their Stagg broadcast and even in the article that appeared on ESPN.com's front page. The headline this year? "UWW Wins D3 football -- Again" appeared on the box on the right side of front the screen.

Bottom line, the lack of any semblance of competitive balance is bad for D3. You can justify why your program deserves to be the best and I completely agree with you. I don't believe in punishing teams for being the best. But that wasn't the question you asked. You asked if the Purple Powers are bad for D3???

ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY, so long as we are talking not about the teams themselves, so much as the situation that they have created.

But the rest of D3 needs to haul them back, there is no reason to punish them for being out ahead. D3 is a massively unfair playing surface and has always lent itself to dynasties. I don't think that will change, but I'd like to see more teams at the top than just 2, which is just poor for the league.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2011, 10:04:38 am by jknezek »

Offline bleedpurple

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Re: Are the Purple Powers bad for D3?
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2011, 05:53:05 pm »
Having two dominant teams at a clearly different level is bad for DIII, and since the two dominant powers are the Purple Powers, yes they are bad for D3. However, it's not UWW and UMU that are bad, per se, it's just the situation that having only 2 dominant powers created that is bad. There are roughly 240 programs in DIII and, in any given year lately, 2 have a shot to win the national title with, maybe, 4 more having a longshot. Even using a generous number of 6 teams, you are talking 2.5% of the universe of DIII teams. Any sport that has so much imbalance is problematic simply because it indicates that playing field is massively unfair.

Think about it this way, 2.5% of D1 is approximately 3 teams. There are more teams in the SEC with a legitimate chance of winning a national title than there are in all of D3. Boring. Would you watch pro-football if only 1 team had a legitimate chance of winning the SuperBowl ever year (2.5% of 32 = .8). How about baseball, largely considered the most imbalanced pro league in the U.S., with 30 teams you are talking 1 team again. Would you watch if only the Yankees had a legitimate chance to win every year? Or how about the English Premier League or La Liga, two of the most imbalanced leagues globally. With around 20 teams you are again talking about only one team. La Liga has at least 2, 10% of the league, and the EPL currently has 4-6, the two Manchesters, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and possibly Spurs, an incredible 30%!

The thing is, all these leagues that are considered "imbalanced" have way greater depth at the top than D3 football, and that's just being generous giving 6 teams a shot every year. If there are only 2 teams, the numbers are incredibly pathetic and make for one of the largest competitive jokes across sports, something that ESPN harps on every year in their Stagg broadcast and even in the article that appeared on ESPN.com's front page. The headline this year? "UWW Wins D3 football -- Again" appeared on the box on the right side of front the screen.

Bottom line, the lack of any semblance of competitive balance is bad for D3. You can justify why your program deserves to be the best and I completely agree with you. I don't believe in punishing teams for being the best. But that wasn't the question you asked. You asked if the Purple Powers are bad for D3???

ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY, so long as we are talking not about the teams themselves, so much as the situation that they have created.

But the rest of D3 needs to haul them back, there is no reason to punish them for being out ahead. D3 is a massively unfair playing surface and has always lent itself to dynasties. I don't think that will change, but I'd like to see more teams at the top than just 2, which is just poor for the league.

What is massively unfair about D3? What solutions would you recommend if you were handed the reigns and told, "Fix this"?
WIWA= Whitewater is Whitewater again.

Offline gordonmann

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Re: Are the Purple Powers bad for D3?
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2011, 06:00:14 pm »
D3 is a massively unfair playing surface and has always lent itself to dynasties.

I wonder if this is true in sports other than football.  Or if it's true only with sports where it's expensive to start and maintain a program.  Or sports that require a lot of players on the roster.

It's an interesting question that's actually somewhat answerable.  Pick a sport and look at the playoff results over a long period of time (at least 10 years).  Does Division III have more elite level success concentrated in a few teams than other levels of college sports?  Look at the number of programs that reached the final four or national title game. Which level has the greatest variety in terms of teams? 

To avoid the problem associated with different sample sizes, you could divide the number of programs that have reached elite level success by the number that sponsor the sport now.  That would avoid the problem with sports where only a small number of schools offer a program (Hypothetical example: Only 15 teams have played for the Division III lacross title in the last 10 years, but only 80 schools offer the sport).

It's an interesting research question. You can't do it with football easily because of the BCS, but you can do it with other sports.

Offline bleedpurple

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Re: Are the Purple Powers bad for D3?
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2011, 07:04:15 pm »
D3 is a massively unfair playing surface and has always lent itself to dynasties.

I wonder if this is true in sports other than football.  Or if it's true only with sports where it's expensive to start and maintain a program.  Or sports that require a lot of players on the roster.

It's an interesting question that's actually somewhat answerable.  Pick a sport and look at the playoff results over a long period of time (at least 10 years).  Does Division III have more elite level success concentrated in a few teams than other levels of college sports?  Look at the number of programs that reached the final four or national title game. Which level has the greatest variety in terms of teams? 

To avoid the problem associated with different sample sizes, you could divide the number of programs that have reached elite level success by the number that sponsor the sport now.  That would avoid the problem with sports where only a small number of schools offer a program (Hypothetical example: Only 15 teams have played for the Division III lacross title in the last 10 years, but only 80 schools offer the sport).

It's an interesting research question. You can't do it with football easily because of the BCS, but you can do it with other sports.

Like Jk it appears you are equating results with "massively unfair playing surface". Maybe it's unfair that Mount Union is the only school to have Larry Kehres.  To me, that is a huge reason for Mount's success.  I am very lost as to what that has to do with the playing field being "massively unfair".
« Last Edit: December 20, 2011, 07:08:10 pm by bleedpurple »
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Offline frank uible

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Re: Are the Purple Powers bad for D3?
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2011, 07:37:11 pm »
What percentage of the 239 DIII colleges have qualified at least once for the playoffs in the last 15 years? My guess is less than 40%, at least a fifth of which have never advanced beyond the first round. Consequently the vast majority of DIII colleges should concentrate their efforts on putting together a suitable regular season schedule and not concern themselves with whether the playoffs are "fair".

Offline wesleydad

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Re: Are the Purple Powers bad for D3?
« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2011, 08:37:53 pm »
bleed, i think you are misreading gordon's post.  I don't think he agree with jk at all, but is using his quote as a basis for his post.  i have known gordon for about 7 years now and have never heard him complain recently about the purple powers.  he, like most of us, would like to see one or both of them fall.

I don't have an issue with the purple powers, nor do I think they are bad for D3.  Having been associated with Wesley for the last 7 years I have gotten to see first hand how good both teams are and have watched Wesley build their program to the point where they are getting real close to them.  If it wasnt for the purple powers, where would Wesley have progressed too?  Having traveled all over the east this year to watch football games, I would agree that many of the teams in D3 have no shot or very little shot at winnind even a playoff game.  there is a small group of teams that can win at least one playoff game, an even smaller group that can win 2 and even a smaller group that can win 3.  Only 2 have been able to win the 4th and congrat sot them.  I know that Wesley does not complain about it, they play them, lose the game and then try to get better.  Guess that is the choice in the end, be satisfied with winning some games, maybe a playoff game or 2, or try to get good enough to win it all.  I hope the Wesley takes the last choice.

Offline jknezek

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Re: Are the Purple Powers bad for D3?
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2011, 09:46:34 pm »
Like Jk it appears you are equating results with "massively unfair playing surface". Maybe it's unfair that Mount Union is the only school to have Larry Kehres.  To me, that is a huge reason for Mount's success.  I am very lost as to what that has to do with the playing field being "massively unfair".

We do judge outcomes usually by the results. The fact of the matter is, with approximately 240 teams, and a 7 year string of only 2 teams playing in the finals and a similarly small pool of teams able to reach the semi-finals, D3 has a pathetic level diversity at the top level as a percentage of participants. That is a non-disputable fact. Now you can claim this is a good thing, or a bad thing, which is what the thread is all about. Personally, I believe it is bad. If I was a UMU or UWW fan, I'm sure I'd appreciate it quite a bit more and I notice the UWW people basically get up in arms about this. 

My basis for saying D3 is not a level playing field is in the factual statistics. The more level the playing field, the more likely you are to have a larger base of teams compete for championships. We know this through analysis of D1 football, the NFL, MLS... the least level playing fields, MLB, NBA, european soccer leagues, tend to have long-term dominant teams. We also know that there are levelers applied that assist matters, usually financial, that ameliorate un-level fields. For professional sports it tends to be salary caps and for D1 it tends to be scholarships. These don't work perfectly, but they do help. If you need help with the concept, check out Moneyball or Soccernomics which don't directly touch on D3 issues, but do a great job of explaining the factors that create and ameliorate unlevel playing fields in professional sports.

Now for some fun. FCS football, 12 of the last 15 championships by different teams, most is 6 by Ga Southern since 1978. d2 football, 10 of 15 different, 5 is most since 1973. d3 football, 5 of 15 different, 10 is most since 1973. Now adjust for the number of schools, FCS 126, D2 146, d3, 239. So FCS, 1 champion per 10.5 teams in the last 15 years, 1 repeat by the top dynasty every 5.5 years. D2, 1 championship per 15 schools, 1 repeat by the top dynasty every 7.5 years. D3, 1 championship per 48 schools, 1 repeat by the top dynasty every 3.8 years. UGGH, D3 has no variety in football compared to the other playoff divisions.

Lets look somewhere else. D1 soccer, 11 champions in the last 15 years, most is 10 since 1959. D2 Soccer, 12 champions in the last 15 years, most is 6 since 1972. D3 soccer, 9 in the last 15 years, most is 8 since 1974. I'm not going to run the numbers again because I can't find an easy source for the number of participants, however, there are more D3 teams than D2, but more D1 than D2 (since D1 is not split in Soccer into stupid FBS and FCS). Just looking at the data will tell you that wins per team and repeats will be much higher in D3 than any other division.

Care to go for 3? Someone else can do it. I didn't cherry pick soccer, it's just the first widely played sport that I decided to go with. Someone else can do baseball or basketball, but I bet you find D3 has dynasties and the lowest variability of any division across widely participated sports.

The farther you get from a leveler, the more un-level your playing field. In D3 there is NO leveler at all. That gives some teams advantages that other teams cannot match. Now, I have said this in many, many posts at various times. Having an advantage, and taking advantage of it, are two different things. UWW and UMU have both taken excellent advantage of their attributes to become dominant. It was done within the rules of D3 and shouldn't be punished but celebrated.

However, having them this dominant is a detriment to D3 as a whole in my opinion. The main reason for that is because D3 football has 1 showcase event, the Stagg Bowl. And it barely qualifies the way ESPN treats it. However, it doesn't help D3's image as a whole when every couple minutes in the broadcast we hear about how this is the 7th game between two teams, how they rolled through the playoffs, have 100 game regular-season winning streaks... it makes the rest of D3 seem like a joke. And that's not good for D3.

You want a bigger pool of contenders. And if you can't understand why having only 2 contenders out of 240 teams, or possibly 6 if you want to stretch the definition, is a bad thing, I really can't help you. The fact is, sports are more entertaining to more people, and more attractive to players, when more people have the option to play for, or root for, a winner. That doesn't happen much in D3, and that's bad.

So what do we do about it? Not much. To be honest, D3 is an unlevel surface. Massive state schools compete with small liberal arts schools. Incredible academic standards compete against revolving doors. Huge endowments versus underfunded midgets. Schools with a greater commitment to sports compete against schools with only the commitment required to fill the seats. The variety of schools across D3 is massive and the lack of requirements leads to a massive imbalance. That is part and parcel of being a member of D3.

frank uible is right. Most schools need to content themselves with winning a conference championship because the conference is really there peers. Once you leave your peer group, D3 football becomes a very Wild West and there are 2 truly lethal gunslingers and maybe 4 more that will beat you 90% of the time. That may be fine with you, but for 233 or so other schools, you can only hope to avoid those 6 as long as possible. Or just don't worry about it when you get blown away by a whole different caliber.

« Last Edit: December 20, 2011, 10:19:13 pm by jknezek »

zach

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Re: Are the Purple Powers bad for D3?
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2011, 12:05:54 am »
When the whole nation minus two schools are playing for 3rd place, it's not a good thing. Not blaming the schools for their success, although I do believe that Wisconsin-Whitewater has the budget and overal athletic prestige to move to D-2.I'm not going to argue that now though as it's not the point.  You can't blame someone for being successful.  The other schools need to up their game to get onto the purple powers level to make D-3 football legitimate again

The play-off system in itself could be changed in my opinion to help "stop" the purple powers. Having home field is huge advantage in D-3. When a team has to ride a bus for 8 hours, spend the night in a hotel, then play the next day at noon, compared to the other team that gets to sleep in their own beds to play on their own field, it is a huge advantage. I like the home field for the first few rounds do to traveling costs, but once they get to the final four, I think it should be neutral. Mount Union almost lost this year. I'm not saying if the game was at a neutral site that it's a guaranteed loss for Mount Union, but it is very possible that they would've.  Keep the home field for the first 3 rounds, but make final four be at a neutral site, and I think that we would see different match-ups in the championship game.

Offline fulbakdad

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Re: Are the Purple Powers bad for D3?
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2011, 05:36:40 am »
It might be time to take a look at developing a D4?  There are some rules that some leagues have to follow that will always keep them at arms length from being at the same level as the purple teams.  NESCAC only plays 8 games with no playoffs.  The Mid West Conferance is limited to 10 total games and scrimmages for the year so that keeps them from the pre season scrimmages that other leagues have.  Plus they can't do any inschool recruiting.  If you look at the NEFC, they would probably be a fit for a D4.

I know I'll probably be lambasted for the thought, but.....

Offline Ralph Turner

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Re: Are the Purple Powers bad for D3?
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2011, 08:03:31 am »
It might be time to take a look at developing a D4?  There are some rules that some leagues have to follow that will always keep them at arms length from being at the same level as the purple teams.  NESCAC only plays 8 games with no playoffs.  The Mid West Conferance is limited to 10 total games and scrimmages for the year so that keeps them from the pre season scrimmages that other leagues have.  Plus they can't do any inschool recruiting.  If you look at the NEFC, they would probably be a fit for a D4.

I know I'll probably be lambasted for the thought, but.....
No, not lambasted...
D-III spent many committee hours and lots of money considering that question and decided that it was not what they wanted to do.

There are posts on the Future of D-III Message Board beginning about page 60 and really ramping up about page 62-63. It goes on for almost 40-45 pages of posts into early 2009 (two years worth).

Offline AO

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Re: Are the Purple Powers bad for D3?
« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2011, 08:55:50 am »
The lack of parity is not the same thing as the lack of fairness.  Whitewater and Mount do not give out scholarships and their players and coaches could have made decisions to go elsewhere.  I dispute the notion that the ESPN broadcast and the promotion of D3 is hurt by Mount and UWW.  Maybe somebody should look up the ratings, but I seriously doubt the average viewer who didn't know much about d3 previously is angry about Mount and Whitewater.

Offline jknezek

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Re: Are the Purple Powers bad for D3?
« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2011, 09:06:04 am »
The lack of parity is not the same thing as the lack of fairness.  Whitewater and Mount do not give out scholarships and their players and coaches could have made decisions to go elsewhere.  I dispute the notion that the ESPN broadcast and the promotion of D3 is hurt by Mount and UWW.  Maybe somebody should look up the ratings, but I seriously doubt the average viewer who didn't know much about d3 previously is angry about Mount and Whitewater.

It's not a function of angry, it's a function of legitimacy. D3 doesn't look like a legitimate competitive environment when the same two teams play year after year. I highly doubt the casual viewer watched or cared about the Stagg Bowl, but those that did were treated to a steady diet of how they are the only 2 teams that matter in D3 because ESPN harps on the recent history.

It seems like people are talking about 2 different things in this thread. One group is pointing out that UWW and UMU are good and people should stop complaining, which I don't disagree with, but that's not what the thread asked. It asked are they good for D3? I can't imagine anyone besides fans of UWW and UMU actually believing that having 2 dominant teams and everyone else playing for third place is good for D3 AS A WHOLE. There are good attributes about the level of play that UMU and UWW are demonstrating for D3, but AS A WHOLE, the competitive imbalance that they represent does nothing but reinforce the idea that D3 is the home of mostly low level competition that isn't REAL college sports.

I know we all disagree, but that kind of imbalance breeds that kind of impression. And that is bad for D3.

Offline AO

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Re: Are the Purple Powers bad for D3?
« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2011, 09:28:05 am »
The lack of parity is not the same thing as the lack of fairness.  Whitewater and Mount do not give out scholarships and their players and coaches could have made decisions to go elsewhere.  I dispute the notion that the ESPN broadcast and the promotion of D3 is hurt by Mount and UWW.  Maybe somebody should look up the ratings, but I seriously doubt the average viewer who didn't know much about d3 previously is angry about Mount and Whitewater.

It's not a function of angry, it's a function of legitimacy. D3 doesn't look like a legitimate competitive environment when the same two teams play year after year. I highly doubt the casual viewer watched or cared about the Stagg Bowl, but those that did were treated to a steady diet of how they are the only 2 teams that matter in D3 because ESPN harps on the recent history.

It seems like people are talking about 2 different things in this thread. One group is pointing out that UWW and UMU are good and people should stop complaining, which I don't disagree with, but that's not what the thread asked. It asked are they good for D3? I can't imagine anyone besides fans of UWW and UMU actually believing that having 2 dominant teams and everyone else playing for third place is good for D3 AS A WHOLE. There are good attributes about the level of play that UMU and UWW are demonstrating for D3, but AS A WHOLE, the competitive imbalance that they represent does nothing but reinforce the idea that D3 is the home of mostly low level competition that isn't REAL college sports.

I know we all disagree, but that kind of imbalance breeds that kind of impression. And that is bad for D3.
I don't know if most viewers come away with that impression, but impressions don't always reflect reality.  The reality of the matter is that without whitewater and mount, d3 wouldn't be at the level it is at today.  They've pushed everyone else to improve.