The NAIA Takes a Stand. . .or a Knee?

naiaYesterday it was announced that the NAIA has decided to move the NAIA DII Men’s Basketball Tournament from Branson, Mo. after 18 years. This comes after College of the Ozarks became upset that the national office wouldn’t require all student athletes to stand for the national anthem. (Full Story – pay no attention to my comment trolling in the section below the story, haha)

I’ll let you read the story for the full details. However, after 24 hours and seeing all the interactions I felt it was necessary to dust off my NAIA media credentials and comment. Continue reading

Jason Dannelly Predicts the 2014 NAIA Football Championship Series Qualifiers

Dustin Rinker

Carroll College RB Dustin Rinker. (Helena IR Photo)

Every year this moment in the season comes and every year it’s like my version of X-Mas. There’s nothing better in my world than seeing 16 NAIA football teams advance to the postseason and letting the craziness begin.

This year, the craziness might have started a week earlier than usual. Morningside, Southern Oregon and Georgetown College both all on the final day of the NAIA football regular season changing the perspective of the NAIA postseason immensely. That’s three of the NAIA’s top five teams falling, making the new No. 1 team in the NAIA Carroll College

Being rated in the Top 2 and Top 4 are probably the two biggest factors in making the NAIA Championship Game. Top 2 (as long as you put in the bids) guarantees you home field advantage through the semis. Top 4 obviously gives you the same advantage until the semifinals which many will argue is the most important. Given the Thanksgiving holiday, no one wants to be on the road that weekend and traditionally the home teams have had a much higher rate of success than the road teams during the Turkey Day weekend.

Before predicting anything we have to know the facts. Who won, who lost and who is a conference champion. Remember, all conference champions rated No. 20 or higher earn an automatic berth. Continue reading

College World Series Field Set And I Couldn’t Be Happier by Jason Dannelly

There are few things in the sports world that I truly get excited for. I don’t ever get jacked up for the Super Bowl, I could care less the NBA playoffs are going on right now and the BCS championship doesn’t cause me to clear my schedule.

However, the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. is an event that has turned from “must see TV” to must “must attend and cover”.

Growing up in Nebraska, the CWS was always a sports event as a youngster that you heard about but never really fully embraced. I can remember our neighbor, who helped my dad coach our youth baseball teams, coming back from the CWS with “new drills” he saw during warmups and practices.

Living on a farm we didn’t have cable but we were blessed with one of those GIANT satellite dishes that likely could’ve started a cable company for our neighbors. That’s where I saw my first CWS game. If memory serves it was G5/9 (Satellite G5 channel 9 for those of you unfamiliar with having to rotate the dish to get your channels in).

I never got to attend a CWS game until I got to college. My roommate’s family had tickets to every CWS game (and still do for that matter) and I was lucky enough my freshman year of college to be around for one of the rare games when his family was not using all of their tickets.

I can’t remember the first teams I saw play and I don’t think that makes me any less of a fan nor does it make my experience any less significant than one of those people with a photogenic memory who could recite from memory the entire scorer’s book from their first game. (Trust me, there are people that can. I’ve met them.)

The atmosphere, the energy, the crowd, the vendors, the people with tents in their front yards… I was hooked. Just from watching on TV I knew I’d really enjoy being at the CWS. But I had no idea what that feeling would be like. It wasn’t the same feeling I had going to Nebraska football games growing up and it wasn’t the feeling I got going to KC Royals games.

This was a feeling of ownership. Like somehow by attending the CWS that part of it had become mine. I think that’s why people from Nebraska and Iowa love the event so much. They helped build it into what it has become and in return it was now “theirs”.

Ever since that first game I’ve made it as part of an annual summer tradition. When I graduated college I was lucky enough to work with the Creative Sports Network and actually broadcast some of the games leading into the CWS. I was asked to broadcast a few games that year as well, but actually had a prior commitment that prevented me from doing it. In the years following, I’ve continued to cover the CWS as a freelance journalist for various organizations.

But nothing beats the experience as a fan. Sure there were detractors that didn’t want to see the game moved from Rosenblatt to TD Ameritrade Park and I get the argument. The “homey” feeling of Rosenblatt cannot be duplicated by any other venue in the world. Honestly the closest was probably the NAIA WS in Lewiston, Idaho and I don’t just say that as the guy who covers the NAIA as his main beat.

The new venue has grown the CWS and allowed more fans to experience what really is the greatest show on dirt. (Someone should copyright that…) Whether it’s the new slough of bars in the area, the kids play area or the general sites of Omaha there truly is something for everyone at the CWS.

Match ups this year are interesting to say the least. The first game on Saturday is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. (CT), with UC Irvine playing against Texas. Saturday’s second game will have Louisville against Vanderbilt at 7 p.m. (CT). The doubleheader on Sunday features Texas Tech vs. TCU at 2 p.m. (CT) and in the evening game starting at 7 p.m. (CT), Virginia will take on Ole Miss.

The obviously storyline I am following is the return of Auggie Garrido to Omaha with Texas. I’ve always liked the way Auggie has coached his teams and embraced the CWS but after seeing the documentary about him a few years ago, how can you not love this guy. (Exhibit A – NSFW Language)

UC Irvine will obviously be the team the locals get behind. Omahans love the underdog and generally open their arms to anyone new who comes to the CWS. Plus the number of “Anteater” hats that have already been purchased from Lids in the last 20 years is probably immeasurable. Right next to those “Jimmies” and “Slippery Rock” hats.

TCU and Vandy have tradition on their side and Virginia also falls into that category with the only difference being how Omaha seems to embrace the first two a little more.

The rest of the field will have their fans and obviously will win new fans in Omaha over the next two weeks because that’s what the CWS is about. Everyone gets cheered on and everyone is loved at the CWS because once you are there you realize that while the teams and venue have changed, the sense of ownership remains the same as the first time you walked through the gates.

I’ll be covering the CWS again this year. Follow my blog, twitter or whatever for updates. Those are all linked to this article.