The Smartest Teams in NAIA Football.

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Scholar Football Teams Announced.

There is no doubt there is some correlation between having a great football team and a smart football team. Today, the NAIA announced it’s annual “Scholar Teams” list.

In order to make the list the cumulative GPA of a given team must be above a 3.0. Considering most rosters in the NAIA typically have somewhere between 80-100 players, it’s quite a feat when a football team makes the list.

This year SEVEN NAIA football teams garnered the academic award:

St. Ambrose (Iowa) – 3.27

Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) – 3.23

Carroll (Mont.) – 3.22

Taylor (Ind.) – 3.15

Northwestern (Iowa) – 3.10

St. Francis (Ill.) – 3.03

Hastings (Neb.) – 3.00

It should be noted that the MIssouri Baptist women’s tennis team held the highest GPA of all teams participating in NAIA athletics with a 3.94 GPA.

Welcome to Road to the Chipper! The Authority on NAIA Football.

The Tom Osborne Trophy

The Tom Osborne Trophy

Here it is, THE ROAD TO THE CHIPPER!

First things first, thanks for checking out the web site. You are here because in some way you really enjoy NAIA football. It is still a work in progress but by the time the NAIA football season rolls around I hope to have all of the bells and whistles to this site up and going.

Backing up a little bit, I’m Jason Dannelly. For lack of a better way of putting it I’ve been a guru of sorts for NAIA football since 2002. That’s when I started what was then known as NAIAFOOTBALL.NET which eventually became the Victory Sports Network then the College Fanz Sports Network then BACK to the Victory Sports Network. (Did you catch all that?) Continue reading

Jason Dannelly Previews the NAIA Football Championship Series Semifinals

Depending on what side of the fence you are looking, you’re either really excited or really disappointed in the NAIA Championship Series semifinal round. There aren’t many that would have predicted two weeks ago that we would be looking at SOU traveling to Saint Xavier and Marian traveling to Morningside to determine who would head to the national championship.

If you aren’t excited for the match ups then you obviously weren’t paying much attention from 2002 until about 2010. Every year the season would start and you could predict the top four teams in the NAIA and have a 50/50 shot at getting the national championship team correct. Continue reading

JD Show Podcast: Does the current NAIA FB Championship Series need to change?

Is the current NAIA Championship Series setup for football out of date? This week I discuss that and offers an alternative plan for the NAIA football postseason in this week’s podcast. Click below to listen.
http://victorysports.podbean.com/e/jd-show-podcast-jason-da…

Jason Dannelly Previews the NAIA Football Quarterfinals

560204_10152799750429477_7500933386025271825_nI’m going to be completely honest. I hate round two of the NAIA Championship Series. I hate the way it’s put together, I hate when it’s played and I hate that after umpteen years no one has done anything to change it.

Some of my argument for change goes back to what I touched on last week via twitter and the need for the NAIA and its football coaches to consider a major rewrite of the NAIA Championship Series. Just like every other division of college football, things have changed. But the NAIA is the only organization that has not made a major change to its postseason qualification since it adopted its current form in 1997.

And there isn’t a person in the world that can convince me the state of NAIA football is the same now as it was in 1997. Continue reading

Jason Dannelly Selects Winners of the First Round of the NAIA Football Championship Series

10339739_1703721843187182_1827114446610379474_nWe’ve been on the “road” for so many years that its odd for me to envision a “race” to the NAIA National Championship. Especially given the driving conditions I had cross country the last few years getting to Rome. Although two buses stranded on I-75 in Georgia and the stories from all those involved is still one of my favorite memories from 2010.

But this year the NAIA will embark on the first of three title games in Daytona Beach aptly title the “Race to Daytona.” Previous incarnations of the game saw us on the “Road to Savannah” and the “Road to Rome.” The racing moniker fits the host and also the attitude of several of the NAIA’s best who are definitely in the fast lane towards the NAIA title game. (See what I did there?)

It’s so tough for me to pick any major upsets in the first round of the NAIA Football Championship Series in any given year. Typically if you select the chalk, you are bound to get five or six of the eight games correct. Last year the only upset was Tabor defeating Benedictine in the first round (11 over an 8). In 2012 there were two upsets, same with 2011.

But that’s not to say the NAIA postseason doesn’t go without it’s occasional craziness. In 1998, five underdogs garnered victories in the NAIA’s opening round of the championship series seeing the No. 1, No. 2, No. 5, No. 6 and No. 7 teams in the county knocked off in game one of the postseason. This led to a national championship game where the No. 8 Azusa Pacific Cougars won their first national championship game over the No. 11 Olivet Nazarene Tigers. 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

Jason Dannelly: A Look at the Final Week of the NAIA Football Regular Season

10339739_1703721843187182_1827114446610379474_nEarlier this week I had intentions to write a conference by conference breakdown of who is in and who is out of the NAIA Football Championship Series. But as life would have it this week has been much busier than normal. Something about a trip to Minnesota, a snow storm and another job kind of got in the way.However, the NAIA wrote a great breakdown of the final week of the regular season. You can read that article here.

The number one thing everyone needs to remember is this: Conference champions rated #20 or better get automatic berths to the postseason. If you are a conference champ and rated #23 in the final poll, you are out of luck. If you are conference co-champs and you are rated #21 and the other team is #15, you are on the outside looking in.

The magic number to remember is 20.

So who am I talking about specifically? Langston, Reinhardt, Saint Francis (Ind.) and Webber International. All of these teams can either win or have part of a conference title by winning this weekend. However, they will all need the help of a lot of other people outside of their control if they are going to make it to the postseason. Continue reading

Jason Dannelly: Two Weeks Left Until the NAIA Football Regular Season Ends

Brandon Wegher of Morningside

Brandon Wegher of Morningside

My first year covering the NAIA as a true national journalist was 2002. I knew the teams and the conferences, kinda. And I knew who was good, sorta. But when this time of year came around I found myself scrambling to try to figure out what the heck was going on in each conference. I made bold predictions that made me look like an idiot and I guaranteed outcomes that I had no business commenting on.

12 years later . . . not much has changed!

The NAIA postseason is taking shape. If you want to be a part of it, don’t have three losses. It’s been nearly impossible through the years to make the postseason with three losses, but that’s not to say that it doesn’t happen.

Where we see the exception is typically in conferences where teams are forced to play a lot of games outside of their league schedule. The Central States Football League is the most notable in this department and unless Langston wins out they will be left without a postseason rep once again. The Lions are 5-3 and finish up against Bacone and SAGU, the next best teams in the league over the next two weeks. Continue reading

Jason Dannelly: NAIA Football Review/Preview for Monday, September 8th.

Photo Courtesy of SOU Sports Information

Photo Courtesy of SOU Sports Information

Breath.

Just inhale . . .follow with an exhale.

It’s going to be okay.

The college football season is officially fully underway and from looking at the NAIA twittersphere one would think the season is over for some of these teams. Sure there were some pretty good upsets this weekend but overall it shouldn’t change your opinion on many of these teams quite yet.

Unless the injury bug bit your team hard this weekend because the name of the game in the NAIA is depth. Teams that have depth can survive a few bumps and bruises while teams that lack it will really struggle this year.

Early last week I said the game of the week was going to be Carroll College at Southern Oregon. The NAIA national office also officially gave the game that title and the Raiders and Saints did not disappoint. SOU defeated Carroll 38-35 as quarterback Austin Dodge found Victor Dean from 22 yards out with just seven seconds left to play in the game. The TD capped off a seven play, 80-yard drive that took just 1:23 to execute.

Dodge was impressive going 21-30 on the day for 281 yards passing, two touchdowns and no interceptions but equally as impressive was Raider running back Melvin Mason who rushed 27 times for 202 yards and three touchdowns. Mason’s performance was easily the grittiest we have seen from a running back in a big NAIA game for quite a while. Continue reading