Sunday, October 23, 2011

Article from about the ODAC and Parity

One word defines ODAC Parity. For the past five years, I’ve interviewed coaches in the ODAC for’s preseason Kickoff publication. And each year, coaches talk more and more about the balance in the conference. On any given Saturday, any team can win. And it’s not just talk in the ODAC, it’s the truth. Early in this century, Bridgewater dominated the league and made some deep playoff runs, including a trip to the Stagg Bowl in 2001. Since 2006, though, we’ve seen Washington and Lee, Hampden-Sydney and Randolph-Macon all take a turn in the NCAA postseason. The downside to this regular-season parity is that since 2006, ODAC teams are 0-7 in the playoffs....
Some playoff games were close, but no team has been able to get over the Round 1 hump like the Eagles teams of years before. It’s not necessarily an uncommon occurrence on the national landscape. For many years prior to UW-Whitewater’s championship runs, the WIAC failed to produce teams that made it far into the postseason. When there’s parity, teams can beat each other up. There are injuries. Several factors can make for exciting competition locally but then become unable to translate into wins after conference play. The 2011 season has further entrenched the conference’s claim to parity. All but one team, the injury-plagued Guilford, has an overall winning record, and some ODAC matchups have seemingly been able to fall either way. Emory & Henry has been on the losing side of a couple of these close matchups. Two weeks ago against W&L, the Generals kicked a field goal as time expired for the 17-14 win. This past weekend, the Wasps surged late with a pair of touchdowns to fall just shy in a 38-36 game against H-SC. The Tigers shut down E&H’s attempt with no time on the clock to get a 2-point conversion. Wasps quarterback Kyle Boden set a conference record with 51 completions en route to 390 yards. For the Tigers, Travis Lane connected for 291 yards, including 159 to Sean Cavanaugh, while Kirk Rohle had 149 yards on the ground. H-SC also had 11 tackles for loss. This was H-SC’s closest conference game of the season after winning two others by 14-point margins. The Tigers’ biggest rival, Randolph-Macon, has been on the losing end of two one-score games, one of which came against E&H. Over the weekend, the Yellow Jackets also dropped a 34-30 shootout to defending conference champs W&L. R-MC led most of the game until Luke Heinsohn’s 5-yard run with about 2 minutes on the clock gave the Generals the lift they needed for the win. R-MC’s Zac Naccarato passed for 324 yards while W&L’s Charlie Westfal also had a surprising 231-yard day through the air. So far this year, among the top six teams in the conference, games: have been decided by 3 points or less: 2 have been decided by 4 to 7 points: 2 have been decided by 8 to 14 points: 2 Only one game between the top six teams has been decided by a larger margin. By comparison, the Centennial, which has three more teams than the Old Dominion, has had five games decided by 7 points or less, while the USAC has had just three. As I said earlier, “any given Sunday” applies to the ODAC at least as much as it does to any other conference in the region – and probably moreso. With matchups between W&L and H-SC as well as The Game still to come, we have time to see if one team begins to separate itself from the pack. But a big question will be whether this parity, this increased competitiveness inside the ODAC, can ultimately lead to bigger payoffs in the postseason.

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