State of the Game with Bear Davis
Turn Back the Clock Rankings
Not too long ago, the lines that divided the divisions of college lacrosse were very different from what we see today. Due to an overall lack of programs and the programs that did exist having meager budgets, it was not uncommon for schools that are now considered NCAA Division I to regularly faceoff against Division II and Division III schools. In some cases, these programs were even aligning in the same conference. One such example was the Midwest Lacrosse Association (MLA). Before being dissolved in the mid-1990s, the MLA was comprised of teams such as Ohio State, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio Wesleyan, Kenyon, Denison, Wooster, Oberlin, Ashland and Bowling Green.
One of the reasons for the demise of the MLA was that around that time, DI schools started to make more of a commitment to their programs. Investments in full-time coaching staffs, increased scholarship and recruiting budgets helped create a divide between the programs sponsored at the different levels and led to the landscape in which men’s collegiate lacrosse currently exists. However, that does not mean that we cannot look at current state of Ohio collegiate lacrosse through the lens of the way things used to be.
So, for fun I put together what I felt would be the current top 10 in Ohio if we were to go back to the days of old when everyone in region played regardless of division. I present to you my fictitious “Ohio Conference” rankings.
The Ohio State University (2-0) NCAA DI / Big Ten
Yes 'Nique, yes Logan... Unless something catastrophic would occur to the Buckeyes, not sure if they will be dethroned as the top team in our newly formed Ohio Conference. Keep your eyes on March 11 though as Cleveland State will take their shot at OSU.
Denison University (0-0) NCAA DIII/ NCAC -Ranked 10
th in NCAA DIII USILA POLL
In 2016, The Big Red won both the NCAC regular season and conference tournament. The conference coaches also picked the Big Red as the preseason league favorite. Watched them scrimmage University of Michigan and Marquette and regardless if they were DI backups or not the Big Red put the hammer down.
Ohio Wesleyan University (0-0) NCAA DIII/ NCAC - Ranked 13
th in the NCAA DIII USILA POLL
The Bishops only conference blemish in 2016 was at the hands of the Big Red. OWU gathered a vote for preseason number 1 in the NCAC.
Cleveland State University (0-2) NCAA DI / Independent
The newest addition to NCAA DI will debut at #4 in the Ohio rankings. This team is young but very disciplined and full of talent. Due to the non-conference affiliation and first year scheduling woes we will have a unique cross division comparison this year. The Vikings will play games against cross-town DIII opponents Baldwin Wallace and John Carrol University. Those games could shake up the poll for sure.
Lake Erie College (0-0) NCAA DII / G-MAC Ranked 12
th in NCAA DII USILA POLL
The Storm is set to kick off its first year in the GMAC. Preseason they are ranked 3 behind Mercyhurst and Seton Hill respectively.
Kenyon College (0-0) NCAA DI / NCAC
The Lords finished with a disappointing loss to OWU in the NCAC semifinal last year. They will open this year against OAC up and comer Ohio Northern University. We will see if the Lords can hang onto the number 5 spot.
John Carroll University (0-0) NCAA DIII / OAC
Last year’s OAC tournament champ dethroned Otterbein to become the reigning king of the OAC. John Carrol NCAA tournament team from 2016 returns OAC offense player of the year Michael Hubert for his senior campaign.
Baldwin Wallace University (0-0) NCAA DIII / OAC
The Yellow Jackets captured a piece of the OAC regular season championship in 2016 finishing 6-1 in conference. The Yellow Jackets return 2016 OAC defender of the year Josiah Greve for his senior campaign.
Otterbein College (0-0) NCAA DIII / OAC
Runner up in the OAC in 2016 has now found the conference to be a little more demanding. They must work hard to make the big dance return but they do have experience on their side.
Wittenberg University (0-0) NCAA DIII / NCAC
Tigers are on the hunt to stay in the Ohio Conference top 10. Always a contender and scary team for Denison and OWU to play.
Capital University (0-0) NCAA DIII / OAC
This squad returns 47 letter winners and gained one Dom Marzano as head coach, who undoubtedly will win the Ohio Conference best hair award if nothing else.
KEY “OHIO CONFERENCE” MATCH UPS
2/18 Cleveland State (4) vs Baldwin Wallace (8)
2/19 Cleveland State (4) vs John Carrol (7)
2/22 Ohio Wesleyan (3) vs Otterbein (9)
2/25 Otterbein (9) vs Wittenberg (10t)
3 / 4 Baldwin Wallace (8) vs Kenyon (6)
3/11 Ohio State (1) vs Cleveland State (4)
3/15 Capital (10t) vs Wittenberg (10t)
3/28 Lake Erie (5) vs Walsh (unranked)
4/16 Denison (2) vs Ohio Wesleyan (3)
4/19 Denison (2) vs Kenyon (6)
Time will tell how accurate my rankings are. There will be several opportunities to evaluate these rankings with some great cross divisional games that will allow us to relive the landscape of Ohio collegiate lacrosse of years past.
#OilUp, yours truly,