Wednesday, August 1, 2012

‘Cats ranked number 5 in’s 2012 Pre-Season poll.

As it is every year...the expectations are high in the 'Catdome.
The annual pre-season top 25 is out and YOUR Linfield Wildcats are slotted at the number 5 spot by the pollsters.  Coming off a 10-1 2011 season and returning a number of starters on both sides of the ball, specialists, and letter winners the D3 community is expecting Linfield to have a strong 2012 season.  However, let’s not get all fat and happy off of what people THINK Linfield might do in the upcoming season. is THE source for division III football.  The people on their staff know, understand, consume, and live the division.  I may not always agree with the folks at but I sure as heck respect their knowledge and passion for the brand.  Forget the magazines that run out their pre-season polls…this is the one that carries any and all credible weight.

Now, with that said….this is just a poll.  It’s an opinion based on what teams did last season, their body of work over previous seasons, and who they’re bringing back.  This is nothing more than a vehicle to start and continue the discussion by fans on who’s team is deemed to be among the best.  I’ve said it a number of times but the only poll that really matters is the one published after the Stagg Bowl is played where the Champ takes their spot on top and everyone else falls in line.    So if you’re a ‘Cat player checking out the top 25 poll, go on and appreciate the nod of respect, but realize that can dry up in the matter of a single Saturday if you don’t bring it week after week.

However, this is a fan site, I’m a fan of the ‘Cat (albeit one that boarders on the obsessive) so I’m going to dive in a bit more on the top 15.

1. UW- Whitewater
2. Mount Union
3. Wesley
5. Linfield
6. North Central
7. Salisbury
8. St. Thomas
9. Delaware Valley
10. Wabash
11. St. John Fisher
12. CLU
13. Franklin
14. Kean
15. Wheaton

First off, I’m fine with the top 6 in that order.  I can make a case in switching Linfield and UHMB but The Cru is coming off deeper playoff runs and should be a heavy favorite in the ASC once again.  UMHB and Wesley hook up early this season so one of those two might slip depending on the outcome and if Linfield lives up to the billing the 'Cats should move up early in the season.

I’d move Salisbury down and out of the top 10 for sure, move St. Thomas into the 7th spot, and bump Cal Lutheran into the 8th spot.   CLU lost a few key guys but their roster remains highly talented and has the ability to bring in immediate impact transfers with one or two years of eligibility left to help fill the gaps.  You just can’t convince me that St. John Fisher, Wabash, Del Valley, or Salisbury have better rosters than CLU.  I don’t buy it.  It's more a case of CLU not being very exposed to the rest of the country due to their non-conference games being played out on the west coast and that Linfield keeps knocking them out in the 1st round of the playoffs.  As much fun as I like to poke at CLU, I'm not going to dismiss their talent.

The other thing I don’t understand is how the WIAC is considered the deepest and best conference in DIII and yet their 2nd best team (on paper) can’t crack the top 15 over the likes of Franklin and Wheaton.  UW-Platteville has a load of talent back in 2012 and gave our division overlords (UWW) a tight game that UWW didn’t salt away until late.  Earlier in 2011 UWW creamed Franklin 45-0 and I’m to think that Franklin is closer to UWW than a stacked UW-Platteville? 

Two other teams that I think should be moved into that top 15 at the expense of others is Bethel out of the MIAC and Linfield’s long-time whipping boy, Redlands.  With SJU continuing to flounder around, Bethel has moved into that MIAC top spot tug-o-war with St. Thomas.  I’m not sure if Bethel will have the offense to be a National Contender but I do think they’re a borderline top 10 team with bruising style of play and lights out defense.

Redlands returns a very good roster from their 8-2 last season when they knocked off North Central and came *this* close to taking down CLU.  The problem for Redlands they have to travel to Illinois this season to play at North Central instead of hosting them in the confines of their Smog Bowl on the outskirts of the LA metro area.  That's not going to go well for Redlands and leave their only remaining path to the NCAA's through CLU and the SCIAC auto-bid.  I'd start them in the top 15 but can see them slipping into the 20-25 range after the North Central game.


Pat Coleman, said...

You're right about the WIAC. I think the issue is that there isn't a consensus as to who that second team is. Oshkosh is on six ballots, as high as 14, while Platteville is on 11 ballots, as high as 12. Very few ballots list both teams, mostly one or the other.

Wildcat 11 said...

Great point Pat. I'll be interested to see if one of those two will be able to rise up during the season.

doc said...

Who knows what to expect from the WIAC round-robin anyway?