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Kansas State Top Five: Quarterbacks. Also, D-II Independent, SIAC, and South Atlantic previews

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We hope the wait was worth it. You're probably going to be mad.

Who's that guy?
Who's that guy?
George Rose/Getty Images

The Lead

You've been waiting for this one, and here we are dumping it on you on a Sunday when you're not sitting at your desk in the office. We're pretty awful, aren't we? Our staff put their noggins together to decipher the mystery of K-State's top five quarterbacks of all-time.

Who didn't even get mentioned? Carl Straw, who suffered under Stan Parrish and was then the architect of glory when That Streak ended. Matt Miller and Brian Kavanaugh, who both put in stellar performances even though nobody expected much from them. And no, nobody decided to be obnoxious and list Daniel Sams. Three players received votes, but missed out on the top five. Jake Waters, Jonathan Beasley, and Chad May.

The drum roll, please.

5. Ell Roberson

Roberson's career had its ups and downs, but if nothing else he'll always be remembered for the Ambush. He should also be remembered for his heroic attempt to bring the Wildcats back after falling behind to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, but unfortunately most people want to remember his error in judgement before the game. And that's still pretty unfair.

4. Steve Grogan

It's interesting. Grogan started for K-State for two years and only racked up 2,214 yards in the air. But the Patriots took him in the fifth round in 1975, and Grogan would go on to throw for over 25,000 yards in a 15-year career, and even ran for over 2,000. He took over as the starter midway through his rookie season, and the following year led the Pats to their first playoff appearance in 13 years and (at the time) a club-record 11 wins. Two years later, Grogan headed an offense which ran for an NFL-record 3,156 yards, with four players running for over 500 -- including Grogan himself. Bit injuries derailed his career not long after, and the Patriots drafted Tony Eason in 1983. It seemed like the end of the line for the battered veteran.

And then Eason started 1985 with three losses in five games, and Grogan replaced him. The Pats reeled off five straight wins, but Grogan was hit with another injury in week 12, a broken leg. He was healthy enough to return for Super Bowl XX, and played the latter part of the game, but well after Chicago had already laid on the rout. He is a member of both the K-State and Patriots Halls of Fame, and his number 11 is the only uniform number retired by the Wildcats. Of course, it's not just because of him...

3. Collin Klein

We probably don't have to say too much about a Heisman finalist who led the Wildcats to a Big 12 title and to the precipice of a national championship bid, do we? Klein wasn't the greatest passer, but he was by no means inadequate. But the dual threat he presented was a nightmare for the opposition. Much like this next guy.

2. Michael Bishop

A transfer from Blinn College who chose K-State because Bill Snyder was literally the only coach who wanted him as a quarterback, Bishop showed up and immediately made K-State national championship contenders. His blend of speed, moves, and a rocket launcher attached to his shoulder created what is arguably the most explosive offense ever seen in Manhattan. He led K-State to an 11-1 record in 1997, capped by a rout of Syracuse in the Fiesta Bowl, and as a result K-State was picked to win the 1998 national championship by more than one publication. There was only one hurdle K-State had yet to clear, and in 1998 Bishop led the Wildcats over it: Nebraska. Bishop accounted for 446 yards of offense in the Wildcats' 40-30 win over the Cornhuskers, and the path to the very first BCS Championship Game appeared clear.

And then he fumbled in the fourth quarter of the Big 12 Championship Game, and everything went to hell. But Bishop can't be blamed for the defense coughing up the lead, and he still has to be credited for putting K-State atop the Coaches Poll and in position to win a national title. Bishop won the Davey O'Brien Award and finished second in the Heisman voting to Ricky Williams, who his teammates had completely silenced weeks earlier while Bishop shredded the Texas defense. But Bishop's pro career never took off, because pro coaches just didn't understand how to use him. Had he come along a decade later, he'd be a star in the NFL.

If you haven't looked ahead yet, you're probably confused. We're about to solve that for you.

1. Lynn Dickey

Dickey, a native of Osawatomie, barely edged Bishop for the top spot. He was a Heisman candidate himself, although he only finished 10th in the voting in 1970. Dickey held K-State's career passing yardage record with 6,208 yards for 38 years until Josh Freeman finally surpassed him. Dickey was a third-round draft pick of the Oilers, where he rode the bench for four seasons before being traded to Green Bay. He suffered a broken leg a year later which caused him to miss two seasons. But when he returned, his career took off, helped largely by his favorite target, fellow Wildcat tight end Paul Coffman.

Dickey led the Packers to the playoffs in 1982, their first appearance in ages, and the following year the Packers offense was just unstoppable. Green Bay scored a ridiculous 429 points that year, and he threw for almost 4,500 yards -- a Packer record that stood until Aaron Rodgers broke it in 2011. He earned All-Pro recognition that year. Two years later, Dickey retired after 15 NFL seasons. He is a member of K-State's Sports Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor and the Packers Hall of Fame. He, like Grogan, wore #11 during his Wildcat career, and the number is retired in honor of them both.

Division II Independents Preview

2014 Standings and Info
SCHOOL LOCATION OVERALL
Oklahoma Panhandle State University Aggies Goodwell OK 7-3
Alderson Broaddus University Philippi WV 7-4
Kentucky Wesleyan College Panthers Owensboro KY 7-4
North Greenville University Crusaders Tigerville SC 7-5
University of North Carolina at Pembroke Braves Pembroke NC 2-8
Limestone College Saints Gaffney SC 2-9

Oklahoma Panhandle State had their best season in a long while, and they'll be trying to keep up the momentum as they prepare to embark on a new adventure in 2016 -- membership in the Lone Star Conference. They'll get their first semi-official welcome on the final two weekends of the regular season as they fill in the eighth spot in the Lone Star's post-season tournament (the only conference which does this).

QB Caleb Holbrook (2,793 yards, 28 TDs-13 ints), EB Chris McClendon (1,170 yards, 9 TDs) and Rod Moore (542 and 7), WR Zabari Lavendar (760, 8) all return behind OLs Diego Arenas-Purvinis, Dominique Wyatt, Guerrero Garcia, and Kevin Tankerson; only C Cole Wills and TE Spencer Grijalva are lost among the starters. DB Zazier Murry, the team's leading pick-off artist, returns, along with sophomore Gabriel Robinson; Domonique Johnson has graduated. DLs Tanner Halford and Dominique Guest each had 7.5 sacks; Halford, also the team's leading tackler, returns this fall. LB Andrew Dougherty is gone, but Isaia Vimoto returns to anchor the linebacking corps. All in all, Panhandle is in decent shape, and a relative soft schedule will help them post a decent record -- while at the same time probably scuttling any chance at all of making the playoffs.

Alderson Broaddus only reinstated football in 2012, and have gone 20-13 in their first three years. The Battlers, along with Kentucky Wesleyan, are all-sport members of the Great Midwest Athletic Conference and will officially join that league for football when the conference begins sponsoring the sport in 2017. ABU returns QB Wilson Vaughn, RB Brandon Jones, who ran for 1,475 yards last year, WR Paris Person, leading receiver TE Cooper Schrader, DE Jeff Stephens, DT Mike Wayne, CB/KR Deanarius Wilson, and safeties Michael James, who picked off five passes last year, and Malcolm Lee. Gone is WR Isaac Silafau, and LB Chase Gallagher, the team's leading tackler last year as a sophomore, has gone missing from the roster for reasons unknown. The Battlers should be mildly impressive this fall, but whether that's enough to sneak into the playoffs is another question entirely.

Kentucky Wesleyan matched the school record for wins last year, rebounding from a dreadful stretch that saw the Panthers go 3-30 from 2011-13. QB Dalton Oliver threw for over 3,500 yards and 35 touchdowns last season, and he'll be back to lead the offense. Also returning is the junior RB tandem of Myles Walker and Ahmad Mitchell, who combined for 879 yards last year, and WRs Keenan Cole and Xavier Mitchell will also be back after combining for 2,709 yards and 30 touchdowns. DB Tyler Woodburn picked off seven passes; he'll be back as well, along with Cole Woodburn, who snared four interceptions -- and is also the Panthers' kicker. DE Micah Crutcher and LB Cody Mills shared the team lead in sacks with 5.5 each; they'll be back too. Mills was also the team's leading tackler. LB Vasco Bilberry, DBs Yorell Branch, Tyler Hermann, Chris Dinwiddie, and Jalen Cooper were also among the team's top tacklers... and you guessed it, they return. Basically, the Panthers lose absolutely nothing except for starting OL Madison Cleveland. Watch out.

Interesting note: the Panthers don't play at home until October 17.

North Greenville has leveled off after an 11-3 campaign in 2011 which saw the Crusaders bow out in a five-point loss to Delta State in the Division II quarterfinals. QB Nelson Hughes returns after a 3,150-yard season with 22 touchdowns. He'll be joined by RBs Trey Walker and Simeon Byrd, who combined for over 1,000 yards last year. WRs Robbie Brown and Tyrecous Garrett return, as do TE Ricky Delos Santos and OLs Casey Stewart, Michael Thomas, and Matt Rochester. Leading pass thief Quantel Mack has graduated, but he's the only notable loss on defense. DBs Tony Godbolt, Rochar Witherspoon, and Nigel Gay -- each of whom picked off three passes last year -- return. LBs Quan Weeks, Taylor Anderson, Sam Houston, and Darius Custard are all back; the first three all registered over 100 tackles, while Custard had six sacks. On the defensive line, Anthony Blair returns with his seven sacks as a freshman last year, joined by Caleb Adkins, Johnny Burch and Shaquan Burney. The Crusaders are going to rise up again.

UNC-Pembroke was 9-2 and appeared in the NCAA Division II playoffs in 2013. Then head coach Jake Shinnick, who restarted the Braves' program in 2007 and built it to that point, resigned to take over the reins at West Florida. Shane Richardson, Shinnick's defensive coordinator, replaced him.

Whoops.

Redshirt freshman QB Seth Owen was atrocious, throwing as many interceptions as touchdowns. He's not on the current roster, but sophomore Reggie Pinner is. Of course, he threw three times as many picks as touchdowns last year, so that's not a hopeful sign. RB Rontonio Stanley led all rushers with 270 yards. He'll be back, as will leading receiver B.J. Bunn, who had 402 yards and a single touchdown. The lone bright spot last year was DB/KR L.J. Stroman, who averaged almost 35 yards per kickoff return. He, however, is gone. So is DL Mat Turner, who had six sacks, and leading tackler LB Blake Hickman, who was a junior but has also vanished from the roster. The Braves had massive turnover within the coaching staff this off-season, and hopefully for them that will right the ship... because it's sinking, fast.

Limestone played their first season of varsity football last year, so their record isn't surprising. This year, they're in a scheduling alliance with the South Atlantic Conference (see below), so their level of competition is going to ramp up fast. Obviously, everyone will be back this year (because you don't recruit seniors to start your program, after all). The star of the offense last year was RB Deanthony Neal, who gained 736 yards. DBs Joshua Simmons and Titus Williams each had four interceptions, and each returned one for a score. DL Rodrea Brown had five sacks, and DB Jason Free joined Williams atop the tackling leaderboard. Obviously, when your two leading tacklers are in the secondary, you have problems. Another quiet problem: the team only had 10 punt returns, which... well, you know what that means. I don't need to spell everything out. Still, first season. They should gel a little better in 2015, but probably not enough to post a winning record.

Game of the year: On November 14, two rapidly-improving programs with a lot to prove collide as Alderson Broaddus travels to Kentucky Wesleyan.

Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Preview

2014 Standings and Info
SCHOOL LOCATION SIAC OVERALL
EAST DIVISION
Albany State University Rams Albany GA 7-0 7-3
Morehouse College Maroon Tigers Atlanta GA 4-3 6-4
Fort Valley State University Wildcats Fort Valley GA 4-3 6-4
Benedict College Tigers Columbia SC 2-5 4-6
Clark Atlanta University Panthers Atlanta GA 1-6 3-7
Paine College Lions Augusta GA 1-6 2-8
WEST DIVISION
rv Tuskegee University Golden Tigers Tuskegee AL 7-0 9-3
Miles College Golden Bears Fairfield AL 5-2 6-4
Stillman College Tigers Tuscaloosa AL 4-3 5-6
Central State University Marauders Wilberforce OH 3-4 4-6
Kentucky State University Thorobreds Frankfort KY 2-5 3-7
Lane College Dragons Jackson TN 1-6 1-8

It was a bit of a down year for the SIAC, with only Tuskegee making the playoffs. They're unanimously expected to repeat in the West this year, but the East is in flux. A;bany State is tabbed as the favorite, but Fort Valley and Benedict both received support. The SIAC is still solely an HBCU conference for football, but the seal was broken in all other sports last fall with the addition of Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama. Paine, who restarted their football program last year, abruptly suspended it again after the season, leaving the league at 11 teams once again.

Tuskegee loses RB/KR Hoderick Lowe (818 yds, 12 TD) and basically their entire offensive line, three of whom were all-conference selections, although Kelvin Shelton returns and earned a preseason nod this year. Junior QB Kevin Lacey returns along with WRs Marquel Gardner (a preseason all-conference selection), Travis Hawkins, and Desmond Riley, all seniors. The Tigers return one 2014 all-SIAC selection in each unit of the defense: DL Julian Morgan, LB Jewell Ratliff, and DB Michael Robinson. They'll be joined by 2015 pre-season selections DL Darian Hall, LB Osband Thompson (co-Freshman of the Year last year), and DB Cedric Cuff. PR Devozea Gaines is also back. Tuskegee should get back to the playoffs again.

Miles has been the other top contender in the West for some time now, and they're expected to give Tuskegee a test this year. All-SIAC selections WR Antonio Pitts, OL Eddie Thomas, and DB Travis Lee have graduated, along with starting QB Demetric Price, but OL Terrence Owens and DL Braysean Jones return. They're joined by preseason picks RB Jonathan Clark (811 yds) and OL Montell Collins. Of course, Miles is going to have a problem if they win the SIAC and are in line for a playoff bid, as they've taken on the late-season tilt with Alabama State which used to be Stillman's province. That game would conflict with a first-round playoff bid.

Stillman loses bit, as RB Jovontae Thurman (725 yds), WR/KR Dondre Purnell, and DB Cameron Stallings move on. But QB Josh Straughan (2,223 yds, 26 TDs-8 INT) returns along with OL Tyree Bell. If the Tigers can find some people for Straughan to give the ball to, they should be fine.

Central State swarmed the preseason all-conference selections after losing only DB Joseph Blount from last year's All-SIAC squad. RB Issiah Grooms, WR Christopher Murray, TE Zach Thomas, OL Devin Radcliffe, DLs Artrell McMillan and Tayvin Zeigler, LB Gervelt Morgan, and DBs Okoye Bozeman and Dashad Tucker all made the preseason list. And yet the coaches still only picked the Marauders to finish fourth in the division. That may be because Central will have to replace starting QB Michael Wilson, who accounted for 1,690 yards of offense and 17 scores last year.

Kentucky State will have to survive without the SIAC's second-leading rusher, Jacquise Lockett (1,064/11). LBs Lydell Simon and Trevon Spencer return along with DB Jermaine Graham and KR Corey Slaughter.

Lane loses DL Craig Drummond, but returns his linemate Gabriel Mass, DB Will Lacey, and return specialist Darius Mitchell. OL D'Mon Tucker joins the trio as a preseason selection. Still, it's hard to imagine Dragons getting out of the cellar.

Albany State may be more loaded than Tuskegee at this point. The Rams say goodbye to OL Danny Bunch and DBs Kelonten Miller and Calvin Harris. But Offensive Player of the Year RB Jarvis Small (1,169/13) returns, as does preseason Defensive Player of the Year LB Tavarius Washington (92 tackles, 7 sacks). OL Javoris Wilburn and DLs Jack Ndem and Grover Stewart, who combined for 15 sacks, are also holdovers from last year's All-SIAC squad; OL Kevin Averhart, TE Leonard Walker, DB Nick Scott, and K Zachary Gayden-Holley join them as preseason picks this year. Albany will again contend, but they're being chased hard by...

Fort Valley State, although the Wildcats will have to move forward without league MVP and Defensive Player of the Year LB LeRon Furr, who tallied 108 tackles last season. OL Brandon Baker and DL Bernard Little also depart. WR Drelon Freeman (720/11), DB Brian Walker, and K/P Juan Serna return, as do preseason honorees RB Otis Brown and OL Michael Brown.

Benedict loses the league's leading receiver, WR Kendariss Brown (725/8). They also have to deal with the oddity of the league's Newcomer of the Year, QB Cameron Stover (2,136, 19/10), not returning; indeed, Benedict has no quarterback on the roster who was with the team last year. That's a horrible situation to be in, especially when the Tigers had to bring in a transfer just to get through 2014.

Morehouse had only one All-SIAC selection last year, P Temitayo Argoro. He'll be back, and he's joined by preseason selections QB Mongavious Johnson (1,439, 9/5), WR Devon Mann (513/5), and OL Justice Thomas. The Maroons should improve a bit, but it's still going to be a rough autumn.

Clark Atlanta is reeling. LB Bre'nard Williams graduated, and co-Freshman of the Year DB Terance Montgomery was arrested in June in connection with a fatal shooting at a pool party in Fayette County. Head coach Kevin Weston left to become the running backs coach at FCS Southeastern Louisiana, the school has brought in Alabama State defensive coordinator Kevin Ramsey but only gave him the interim tag, and the school is mired in a racial discrimination suit from former head coach Ted Bahhur, whi was fired in 2009 and claims it's because he's white. It's chaos, and the Panthers aren't going to benefit from any of it on the field.

Game of the year: On September 12 in Phenix City, Alabama, Albany State takes on Tuskegee in a neutral site contest which may be a preview of the November 14 SIAC championship game.

South Atlantic Conference Preview

2014 Standings and Info
SCHOOL LOCATION SAC OVERALL
8 Lenoir-Rhyne University Bears Hickory NC 7-0 11-1
rv Carson-Newman University Eagles Jefferson City TN 5-2 7-3
Tusculum College Pioneers Tusculum TN 4-3 6-5
Catawba College Indians Salisbury NC 3-4 6-5
Wingate University Bulldogs Wingate NC 3-4 6-5
Newberry College Wolves Newberry SC 3-4 5-6
Mars Hill University Lions Mars Hill NC 3-4 4-6
Brevard College Tornados Brevard NC 0-7 1-10

Change is afoot, but it's not really a critical issue for the conference. Brevard has announced that it will be moving to Division III and seeking admission into the USA South. As they've basically never been competitive in the conference, it's not much of a loss from that standpoint. With the league being reduced to seven members, one might argue this is a really good time to consider adding North Greenville, Limestone, and North Carolina-Pembroke and kill off the Division II independents once and for all. The SAC currently already has scheduling alliances with the former two schools, and will enter into one in 2017 with Pembroke following Brevard's official departure.

Lenoir-Rhyne is picked to once again claim the conference title, with Carson-Newman hot on their heels. The other five schools which aren't Brevard all finished within eight points of one another in the preseason poll, which the mathematically inclined will recognize as basically being "all within one place of one another". But someone usually surprises in this league, so the two princes at the top can't relax.

Lenoir-Rhyne rose up from merely good in 2010 to begin dominating the conference. The Bears have since gone 40-9, 26-2 in conference, and ride a 20-game conference winning streak into the season. They played in the 2013 Division II championship game, losing to Northwest Missouri State.

The Bears do absorb quite a few losses this year. All-American LB and SAC Defensive Player of the Year Tanner Botts is gone, as are QB Miles Freeman, RBs Chris Robinson (1,418 yards, 12 TDs) and Jarrod Spears (993/5), OL Jim Bayer, DL Blake Baker, and DB O'Neil Blake. WR Victor Brannan, OL Joe Ray (the league's Jacobs Blocking Trophy winner), DL Chris Green, LB Rodney Singleton, DB Marcus Kincaid, and P Mikey Destephens return from last year's all-SAC selections, and RB Michael Patrick, OL Dale Howard, DL Lendre Sparrow, LB Jordan Forney, and DB Chris Shaffer all earned preseason nods. So the Bears aren't lacking for talent, and even the loss of Freeman isn't that big a deal as he wasn't really a game-changer.

Carson-Newman, long the power in this league before the rise of Lenoir-Rhyne, won five NAIA championships before joining the NCAA and has been the runner up in the Division II playoffs on three occasions as well. The Eagles will lose the SAC's leading rusher, Andy Hibbett (1,391/15), OL Robby Ignangi, and DL William Alderman from last year's honors list. They had eight, though, and they return QB De'Andre Thomas (850/12 rushing, 1,170/9 passing), WR TraShaun Ward, KR Lonnie Williams, DB Jerry Miclisse, and LS Dusty Nance. RB Damien Baker (515/6), OLs Tyler Scott and Dan Galman, and DB Eien Jacob join them on the preseason watch list. The Eagles are always a threat. Always. But they may still not have enough to catch the Bears.

Newberry handily earned the third-place nod on paper. LB Edmond Robinson and DB Sharon Irwin have departed, but the Wolves have six all-conference selections returning. None, however, are in skill positions on offense: OL Stephen Nance, DL Alstevis Squirewell, LB Taylor McDonnell, DB Arnez Gray, LS Andrew Smith, and P Kyle Clark. RB Romelo Doctor (447/5), TE Zach Edmunds, and OLs Hayden Wilks and Jalen Hunter earned preseason attention. And while Newberry doesn't return all-conference talent in the backfield, they aren't bereft. Raleigh Yeldell will take over for the departed Will Murden at QB; Yeldell completed two-thirds of his passes last year with four TDs over two interceptions in limited duty last year. Meanwhile, two other running backs join Doctor; Dureal Elmore and Ryan Barnwell combined for 810/3 last year.

Catawba will bring back some talent, which soothes the loss of OL Taylor Fender, DL Kegan Funderburk, and LB Jason Taylor. WR Carlos Tarrats (661/7), DB Mark McDaniel, and P Caleb Berry return with hardware, while preseason accolades were visited upon the league's leading passer last year, QB Mike Sheehan (2,273, 17/15), RB David Burgess (577/5), OL Lewis McCormick, LBs Kyle Kitchens and Jamal Lacky, and K Chad Hollandsworth.

Tusculun says goodbye to a pair of all-SAC linemen in OL Jake Birdwell and DL Caushaud Lyons. WR/KR Justin Houston (643/4) returns, and he's joined on the preseason all-conference team by DL D'Andre Johnson and LBs Brandyn Bartlett and L'Keith Brown, last year's Defensive Freshman of the Year. The Pioneers struggled behind center last year, with freshman Malcolm Pendergrass seeing the bulk of the action. With another year under his belt, those struggles should lessen. RBs D.J. Haney and Fernando Smith combined for 1,078/14 last year, and both return, while Houston will be joined out wide by Ken Funnye (464/2).

Mars Hill suffered one of the biggest losses in the conference, as Offensive Player of the Year and the SAC's leading receiver WR/KR Dimitri Holmes (782/7) has graduated. OLs Nick Allison and Denzell Goode are also gone, as is LB Jasper Mason. RB Jamel Harbison (1,204/9) returns, along with TE Marquez Williams and DL Christiaan Davis (no typo). RB Shakel Davis, OL Joe Hillin, DL Johnny Maxey, and Offensive Freshman of the Year Keyshaun Taylor (626/2) all received preseason honors. QB Trent Miller also returns to direct the offense, although his sophomore season wasn't a highlight reel.

Wingate loses four all-SAC players in TE Brandon Ellington, OL Will Poteat, DL Nick Napolitano, and DB Jon Jimenez. Also departed is leading rusher Nestor Lantiqua (753/7). WR Jordan Berry (585/6), LB Eric Mapoles, and DB Brandon Hathaway return, while OL Mathu Gibson and DB Nortavius Otis earned preseason nods. QB Kyle Johnson did not, but he returns after a 2,073 yards season; Johnson's problem is ball control, as he threw 14 picks to 15 scores.

Brevard loses all-SAC RB Jordan Ollis (1,224/16), as well as RB Kelvin Jeter (838/5). They also lose QB Tanner Wright, who only threw for 289 yards anyway (although he did run for 560 and scored 11 times on the ground); the Tornados passing offense was virtually non-existent, accounting for only 426 yards and four touchdowns all season. That's a game for some teams. Since they're transitioning to non-scholarship ball, they didn't really reload this year, and they're the odd team out.

Game of the year: We'll find out fairly early if Lenoir-Rhyne's really going to have to fight to defend their title, as they host Carson-Newman on October 3.

Tomorrow

We conclude our Top 5 series by picking K-State's five best special teams players of all time, and then we preview the Rocky Mountain and Pennsylvania State Athletic Conferences, which means we'll be digging into the national title defense hopes of last year's Division II champions, Colorado State-Pueblo and looking ahead to life at Colorado Mines without Bob Stitt. Join us!