The Commonwealth of Virginia's Ultimate Blog

Monday, November 21, 2005

Those Other Virginia Football Teams

This weekend, a William and Mary graduate expressed his displeasure at the fact that "The Commonwealth Cup" was reserved only for Virginia and Virginia Tech, and that none of the state's other football programs would ever get a chance to own it.

His comment reminded me of my post earlier this year regarding Virginia's Other Football Powers. I thought I'd take this opportunity as we near the end of the college football year to check in on some of those oft-overlooked teams and see how they were doing.

In August, I talked about the Division I-AA schools JMU and William and Mary, who had both made the NCAA playoffs in football last year. JMU, you'll remember, won the I-AA National Championship last year. This year, however, they won't get a chance to defend it after missing the playoffs with a record of 7-4. William and Mary fared even more poorly, finishing at 5-6 after a season ending loss to this year's surprise A-10 team, the Richmond Spiders. Those plucky arachnids have often been known to cause an upset or two in basketball, but this year they shocked a lot of people by going 7-1 in the Atlantic 10 conference and capturing a share of the league title. The Spiders were rewarded for their efforts with a bid to the NCAA playoffs, where they will face another Virginia team, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Champion Hampton University Pirates.

At the D-III level, this summer I told you about the mighty Bridgewater Eagles and their impressive run within the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. This year, the Eagles continued the consistent play that has made them the Commonwealth of Virginia's winningest football team since the start of the 2000 season. Bridgewater won its Fifth Consecutive ODAC Championship, has a 35 game conference winning streak, and is appearing in the NCAA Playoffs for the 6th straight year. In fact, Bridgewater football is now so popular that they have their own excelent fan-run website, BridgewaterFootball.com, which I expect is a rarity for D-III teams. On Saturday, Bridgewater advanced to the second round of the playoffs by defeating Washington and Jefferson 30-21. This weekend they will play Thiel College, a team that the Daily News-Record says bears a striking resemblance to Bridgewater itself.

Finally, I just wanted to point out this article on ESPN.com about Liberty University's football program and the shake-up that is going on there under the direction of the Rev. Jerry Falwell. Falwell says he wants Liberty to become a D-I program and he rightly believes that success on the football field will help get him there.

I believe that there is room for one more D-I football program in the Commonwealth, though I feel that JMU is probably in the best position to make the jump given their totality of circumstances. On the other hand, a D-I program in the Tidewater region would certainly have a rich recruiting area to draw from. However, none of the schools in that area appear poised to make that kind of jump.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Informed Patriot said...

Thanks for the shout out to UR. Stacey Tutt has done a great job this season. Good to see the other VA teams get some praise. Go Spiders- Beat Hampton!

8:19 PM

 
Anonymous Garrett said...

GO SPIDERS!!!

(Or for our visiting students from Tulane U., Geaux Spiders!!!)

9:18 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My point of reference in this response is in having been a D-1 athlete.

I'd be frankly afraid for the D-III players safety. These players are generally smaller, less conditioned and less talented than their D-I/1AA athletes. Some of these guys will get killed!

It would be fun for a true Commonwealth Bowl but I can't see a D-I player wishing to play that game if it meant getting hurt and losing an NFL shot when you get hit by a guy whose trying to prove something on big game day and has no hope of furthering his football career.

If JMU, Richmond and WM are up for it now, bring it on. You can get the beating we took from VT last week! Misery loves company!

11:20 AM

 
Anonymous Informed Patriot said...

I do believe the Spiders just missed upsetting UVA the last time they played in 2001 by only a wide left extra point. I would hardly call that a beating. Although I have a feeling UR is gonna get whipped tonight in bball by the Hoos.

11:26 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

UVA's team is MUCH different than the one recruited in 1991. Just go back and look at the stat roster. They are huge and fast in comparison.

I think it pretty easy...if anyone of the schools mentioned wants to pony up the money...they too can be D-1 schools.

I'm not sure it makes that much of a difference but hey...go for it.

Another case of college athletics gone wild! The more the merrier I guess.

2:23 PM

 

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