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Just Say No to Alternate Uniforms. Also, Northern and North Coast previews

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We rustle around in the ol' mailbag again, and we're appalled.

Seriously, don't do this. Anyone. Ever.
Seriously, don't do this. Anyone. Ever.
John Weast/Getty Images

Mailbag

EveryCatAWildman sent us this gem, presumably after visiting Keltic Star:

Nostradamus time.

Every fan is concerned with the impending 'immediate' change with Snyder to well, who's next.

I don't care that much in the immediate, it'll change. So futurecast or 'what if' scenario if you want.

What does KSU look like in 10 years? In 10 years, whoever is or has coached, it will be a new generation of fan and booster. In 10 years our sparkling facility will be 'worn'. In 10 years Tyler Lockett will have retired from the NFL and the likes of not only Snyder but Saban, Miles, Briles, Dantonio will have gone. Somebody will have changed conferences, the playoffs will have expanded, the attorney general will have issued health warnings against plastic to plastic contact.

Basically, I want to know if KSU will be willing to have alternate uniforms?

Well, ECAW... ahem.

With the exception of the camouflage Powercats which Bill Snyder has allowed on Fort Riley Day, one of the trademarks of this program has been clinging to tradition. The clean, classic style and shunning of gimmicky uniforms has been part and parcel of the program's culture.

On the one hand, it's easy to be a little glib and suggest that stubborn attachment to tradition goes hand-in-hand with coaching idolatry. Some of the schools who are also well-known for steadfast refusal to change their visual image have run afoul of this, with Penn State being the ur-example.

But, and obviously we're biased, that doesn't feel like the situation in Manhattan. Bill Snyder has never had to fight for his job here, even when things went bad in the mid-2000s. Snyder has never had to try and brush the misdeeds of his players under the table -- nor, we suspect given what does happen to players in the purple and white who commit even minor infractions, would he if it became necessary.

As a result, even when he retires Bill Snyder will still have a strong influence on the program. He might even have more if Sean Snyder replaces him. And, perhaps most importantly, the entire fanbase remembers what happened last time someone tried to mess with K-State's uniforms. Nobody wants to see that again.

No. For at least a long while after Bill Snyder retires, we won't be seeing any wacky alternate uniforms.

Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference Preview

2014 Standings and Info
SCHOOL LOCATION NACC OVERALL
Benedictine University Eagles Lisle IL 5-1 6-5
Wisconsin Lutheran College Warriors Milwaukee WI 5-1 7-3
Lakeland College Muskies Sheboygan WI 5-1 6-4
Concordia University Wisconsin Falcons Mequon WI 3-3 5-5
Rockford University Regents Rockford IL 1-5 2-8
Concordia University Chicago Cougars River Forest IL 1-5 1-8
Aurora University Spartans Aurora IL 1-5 1-9

Entering its eighth year as a conference, the NACC still hasn't crawled out of the Division III basement. In some ways, it's part of an object lesson on why things aren't really any different competitively -- on a relative basis, of course -- in Division III than they are in FBS. There's the germ of a long article here on how this is actually an indication that Division III is comprised of real football players, but right now ain't nobody got time for that. Suffice it to say that in an environment where talent is negligible, a hierarchy will not exert itself; if there was no talent in Division III, any team from any conference could be presumed to have a legitimate shot at the national title in any given year. That it is the same two teams, with the same half-doxen teams as effective challengers, and that teams from the same conferences always seem to be the ones to temporarily rise into the picture... that means something.

And it's also completely irrelevant here in the NACC, a league made up of seven schools whose histories involve a lot of bouncing around from minor conference to minor conference with very little sustained success.

Benedictine (IL) has been the NACC's most consistent team, winning at least a share of the conference title in three of the league's seven years of existence. Their first-round exit at Wheaton last year was even mildly respectable, given the conference champion's usual fate in the playoffs. But overall, it was the Eagles' second-worst season since 2008, largely due to a non-conference schedule was was overly ambitious. They're playing the same three teams this year; the bad news is that last year two of them were home games, whereas now they're on the road.

The Eagles also lost the core of their offense: first-team QB and NACC co-Offensive Player of the Year Ryan Keener, RB Artie Monaco, WR Greg German, and OL Alvin Taylor are all gone along with LB Drew Kell and second-team RB Greg Simms and DBs Stefan Herron and Rodney Nichols. DL Alex Davis and DB Jarrett Lecas, the league's Defensive Player of the Year, return from the first team, as do DL Niko Paaloalo and LB Micayel McKechnie. Benedictine should still be the favorite in 2015, but they've got company.

Wisconsin Lutheran spent six years in the M(ichigan)IAA, and they were not wonderful. The NACC has been much kinder, with the Warriors averaging better than five wins a season and posting at least a .500 conference record in all but one year of the league's existence. Last year's share of the conference title, however, was WLU's first. The Warriors lose three all-NACC first-teamers, but have a surfeit of talent returning. First-team DB Dakota Venidestine, K Matt Grams, and KR Alex Foster are joined by second-team honorees WR Mitch Skarban, TE Brad Nemetz, and LB Tanner Behnke. (Grams and Foster were also named to the second team at punter and WR, respectively.) 2014 was a bounce-back from a disappointing 2013, and there's momentum here to possible carry Lutheran to its first NCAA bid.

Lakeland was a game worse than last year, but unlike last year the Muskies shared the conference title, their second. The last two years have marked a recovery from a three-year skid. Three seniors depart from the NACC first-team, leaving only WR Kezlow Smith. But WR Michael Esiobu, OL Javon Toland, DL Jake LaFleur, KR Peyton Petersen, and LBs Fred Fielding and Romain Johnson all made the second team last year, and all return along with QB A.J. Veloz, last year's Freshman of the Year. That's all a really good sign for the Muskies, who should also be strong challengers for the title. But there's one huge twist in the plot. Head coach Kevin Doherty resigned after eight years to take a new job as offensive coordinator... at Benedictine. Talk about your heel turns. Colin Bruton, who played for Benedictine and has been the Muskies' defensive coordinator for eight years, takes over the reins.

Concordia (WI) won the NACC outright in 2013 after a second-place finish in 2012. Last year, they tumbled. They're also suffering losses. QB Austin Damaschke, who shared both the Offensive Player of the Year award and first-team honors with Keener, has graduated along with RB Shay Klitzke, WR Garrett Wenzelburger, DL Uzziel McDermitt, P Hunter Breunig, and second-teamers OL Sean Jones and K David Gonzalez. OL Nick Smith, a first-teamer, is the only returning honoree. The Falcons will probably stay above water, because the rest of the conference is pretty bad. But any expectation of a push for the championship is probably misguided.

Rockford also had a coaching change, this time stealing a coach from Benedictine. Former Eagle defensive coordinator Jim Schroeder takes over from Vic Wallace, who last October announced his retirement to become effective at season's end. Wallace amassed 181 wins as a head coach, including stops at St. Thomas (MN) and William Jewell, and was for a time an assistant at Texas Tech. But the last several years wore on Wallace, whose career record took a hit during his four years in Rockford, as the Regents only managed 5 wins in 40 tries during his tenure. Indeed, the entire NACC experience has been awful for the Regents, whose record since the conference's formation is a miserable 7-63 (5-42) - a nosedive that's especially galling coming off five straight 7-3 seasons as an independent. Rockford loses eight starters, including first-team TE Dane Kirk and LB Seth Swinehart and second-teamer DB Jake Gorsuch. First-team DL Tremaine Barry and second-team DB Reggie Haynes return, but progress will be difficult.

Concordia (IL) has gone into the tank after a stretch where the Cougars went 34-7 over four years, winning one NACC title outright and sharing another. They peaked in 2012 with a perfect 10-0 regular season which ended with a one-point first-round home loss to Minnesota power Bethel. The Cougars have gone 3-16 since. Concordia had two all-NACC honorees last year, both first-teamers; OL Angelo Turco returns, while DB Mike Bailey has graduated. DB Tyson Burch, a freshman last year, was honorable mention. This is probably not the year the Cougars return to glory, but improvement may be in the cards.

Aurora ran the table to win the initial NACC title in 2008, but has since trended mostly downward. That slide hit its nadir in 2014, and that was with four senior all-conference honorees on the roster. Only first-team RB Jake Apple remains, so the Spartans are going to have to rely on new blood to get out of the cellar.

Game of the year: Oh, you've already guessed, I'm sure. Even if Wisconsin Lutheran has bagged the title already, the regular season ends with a November 14 visit to Lakelend by Benedictine. If nothing else, narrative will fly.

North Coast Athletic Conference Preview

2014 Standings and Info
SCHOOL LOCATION NCAC OVERALL
17 Wittenberg University Tigers Springfield OH 9-0 9-1
10 Wabash College Little Giants Crawfordsville IN 8-1 10-2
DePauw University Tigers Greencastle IN 6-3 7-3
Denison University Big Red Granville OH 5-4 6-4
Ohio Wesleyan University Battling Bishops Delaware OH 5-4 6-4
Hiram College Terriers Hiram OH 4-5 5-5
College of Wooster Fighting Scots Wooster OH 4-5 4-6
Oberlin College Yeomen Oberlin OH 2-7 2-8
Allegheny College Gators Meadville PA 1-8 1-9
Kenyon College Lords Gambier OH 1-8 1-9

The North Coast, a conference with a very strong academic orientation, has regressed some from earlier days when the league had three recognized powers and an occasional interloper. These days, it seems to tbe the Wittenberg-Wabash show. But few conferences can boast two teams of their caliber, and they'll be at it again in 2015. The preseason coaches poll has the two titans clearly ahead of the pack, with Wittenberg taking seven first-place votes to three for Wabash. DePauw follows, with Ohio Wesleyan just nicking Denison for fourth. The rest remain right where they ended last season, with the exception of Kenyon easily beating Allegheny for ninth place and nearly pulling even with Oberlin for eighth.

Wittenberg is a member of college football's exclusive 700-win club and 18th all-time among all divisions (second behind Mount Union in Division III). The Tigers have won or shared eight NCAC titles this century and 12 overall, after having won 18 Ohio Athletic Conference titles between 1918-88. The Tigers have won five national championships, two in the Division III era, but the most recent was in 1975. Head coach Joe Fincham has a career record of 173-39, which seems almost quaint compared to his peers Larry Kehres and Lance Leipold, but you probably wish your coach had that record.

The Tigers had no All-Americans last year and won none of the conference's main awards, and still ran the table. OL Aaron Coeling, LB Nick Gibson, and DB Victor Banjo have graduated, but fellow NCAC first-teamers QB Zack Jenkins, WR Zach Culvahouse, C Alec Nutting, DL Josh Bannick, DB Winston Thomas, and K Evan Grissom all return. Nutting and Bannick have earned that honor twice each. Second-team DB Ryan Myers also returns, so Wittenberg really doesn't have a lot of reloading to do.

Wabash has won at least eight games every year since 2005, and has had a winning record every year this century. Last year saw a return to the playoffs after a two-year absence; it was the Little Giants' seventh appearance since 2000. Wabash has a storied history, once handing Notre Dame their only home loss during a span of 29 years. Their coach, Eric Raeburn, is the cousin of current Mount Union coach Vince Kehres, and thus the nephew of hall-of-famer Larry Kehres.

Second-team All-American DL and NCAC Defensive Player of the Year Cody Buresh has graduated, along with fellow NCAC first-team honorees RB Tyler Holmes (his second honor) and LBs Denzel Wilkins and A.J. Akinribade (his third). RB Mason Zurek, OL Wes Brown, LB Ethan Buresh, DL Tyler McCullen, and DB Austin Brown all return from the NCAC first team, as do second-teamers WR Drake Christen, OL Deryion Sturdivant, and KR Matt Dickerson. The losses were light numerically, but huge in impact; the returning talent, however, is a more than solid base to continue Wabash's usual form.

DePauw spent a decade mostly running roughshod over the SCAC, but struggled badly in 2012, their first season in the North Coast. Two years of steady improvement have the Tigers right back in a position they're used to: a team hovering around the seven-win mark. DePauw had two first-team selections last year, and both return: OL Kody Bontreger and DL Michael Mitsch. Three seniors were on last year's second team, but two Tigers return from that list as well in DB Hamm Hooper and P Paul Simon. Bill Lynch, who had previously led the DePauw program for a year after a stint at Ball State and before moving on to Indiana, where he was promoted to succeed Terry Hoeppner after his untimely death, returned to DePauw in 2012. His squad will likely be a solid third-place finisher this year, but isn't likely to test the two behemoths in front of them.

Denison has won between three and six games every season since 2003 with one exception: 2013, when the Big Red went 7-3. WR DuShawn Brown returns from last year's NCAC first-team, as do second-team OL Drew Gray, DL Zach Neufeld, and DBs Andrew Baired and Joel Lohoua. Gone, however, is second-team QB Brandon Sklenar. Although the coaches picked Denison to slide behind Ohio Wesleyan this season, that's probably not a safe bet, as you'll see in a moment.

Ohio Wesleyan has the occasional burst of success: nine-win seasons in both 2001 and 2012, neither of which resulted in post-season invitations. Tom Watts replaced the retiring Jack Hollway after the 2011 season and led the Bishops to that nine-win campaign, but they're back to their usual average status. Contrary to the coaches poll, Wesleyan is staring regression in the face. First-team TE Calvin Cagney and three second-team honorees have all graduated, as well as two of the three Bishops who received honorable mention. Only DL Gary Brodek returns from that list. When every player on your roster has moved on, progress is unlikely.

Hiram had their best-ever season as a member of the conference. Prior to 2014, the Terriers had gone 15-125 (9-89) over the prior 14 seasons. The improvement wasn't entirely reflected in individual honors; a pair of defensive linemen received second-team honors. Craig Neece graduated, but Zayd Mabin returns for his junior season. Also lost to graduation was QB Robert Partridge, an honorable mention honoree. It's hard to say whether Hiram's improvement last year will stick, and it's not unheard of for a hapless NCAC program to rise up for a single year before collapsing again.

Wooster was, once upon a time, the third member of the triumvirate that ruled this league. But since an 11-1 finish in 2004, the Scots have not won seven games in a season without immediately regressing by at least three games the following year. That's what happened with the seven-win 2013 squad. First-team OL Mike McCants and DB Brandon James have graduated, as have second-teamers RB Sean Hackel and LBs Mitch Czerniak and Matt Osolinski. The floundering will likely continue.

Oberlin has never had a winning season in the NCAC, and hasn't gone 5-5 since 2007. The Yeomen were 2-8 last year in head coach Jay Anderson's first season. Anderson, an Oberlin native, was a four-year starter at defensive back for Toledo in the early 2000s. Oberlin had no first-team honorees, but they did sport a pair of seconds; WR Justin Cruz and OL Nick Blaszak both return. The Yeomen will likely improve a bit this year, but whether it's enough to post that elusive .500 season is questionable.

Allegheny had one all-conference honoree, second-team OL Jesse Bataglia. And he's graduated. LB Nick Murgo did earn Newcomer of the Year honors, but the cabinet seems empty. Coming off a 1-19 two-year stretch, the Gators appear destined for last place this year.

Kenyon stunned everyone in 2012, posting a 6-4 mark on the heels of consecutive 0-10 campaigns. The Lords regressed a bit in 2013, going 4-6, but fell apart again in 2014. Three Lords received honorable mention last fall: WR Brian Hunca, FB Blake Calcei, and DB Alex McQuiston. Kenyon, the alma mater of Bill Waterson and an unconscionably noticeable portion of the EDSBS commentariat, will probably improve this year, but don't expect another great leap forward.

Game of the year: It's early this year, but it's the same as always: Wittenberg visits Wabash on September 26.

Tomorrow

What if we hadn't hired Bill Snyder? And we'll continue previews with the decidedly new-look New Jersey Athletic Conference and the decidedly old-school New England Small College Athletic Conference.