The UW-Whitewater football team has had its share of bowl game experience by playing in 13 of the last 15 NCAA Division III playoffs—including 10 Amos Alonso Stagg bowls—the NCAA Division III national championship game.
While the Warhawks have been playing well past the normal 10-game regular season, other Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference teams have not been so fortunate.
During the past 15 seasons (last season was canceled), UW-Whitewater has qualified for the playoffs 13 times. The Warhawks have six NCAA Division III championships and have been the national runner-up four other seasons.
Only UW-Oshkosh has been close to matching that success with five playoff berths in the past eight seasons. UW-Platteville, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Eau Claire and UW-La Crosse each have earn one postseason berth in the past 15 seasons.
The WIAC and the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin have joined forces to give teams that don’t qualify for the NCAA Division III playoffs one extra game starting this season. One non-Division III playoff team with the best record from each of the conferences will play in the inaugural Culver’s Isthmus Bowl on Nov. 20 in Verona.
The leagues announced the creation of the bowl game last week. It becomes the first college bowl game to be played in Wisconsin.
UW-Whitewater football coach Kevin Bullis knows the CCIW well. The last game his Warhawks played was the 2019 Stagg Bowl against CCIW member North Central. The Illinois school won 41-14 on Dec. 20, 2019.
The Warhawks’ first game since then will be against another CCIW member, Carthage. The Firebirds come to Perkins Stadium for the 2021 season opener Sept. 4.
Even though the Warhawks have had a string of success getting to the postseason, Bullis welcomes the Isthmus Bowl.
“I think it’s great for our conference and great for Division III,” Bullis said. “You get so few opportunities to play. It’s nothing but a positive.”
Tickets for the bowl game are $10 and will go on sale beginning Oct. 1. A percentage of ticket sales will benefit Special Olympics of Wisconsin.
NIL and Division IIIWith the fall college sports seasons about a month away from starting, the effects of the new name, image and likeness (NIL) regulations will become more noticeable.
The new rules allow college athletes to profit from their names and photos.
Janesville Craig graduate Noah Berghammer discussed the effects the legislation has on him in an article published in last Friday’s Gazette. Berghammer plays baseball at the University of Minnesota and also writes and plays music and also has published a book.
Athletes can tape special individual messages—such as birthday wishes or motivational speeches—and sell them. Both the Notre Dame and Arkansas offensive lines have signed deals to promote local BBQ joints.
Just imagine what the UW line could do.
Alabama coach Nick Saban told a group of Texas high school coaches that his incoming freshman quarterback has signed deals approaching $1 million.
Can those deals trickle down to the Division III level?
“Absolutely,” Berghammer said. “Especially at places like UW-Whitewater and UW-La Crosse. I think there will be tons of opportunities for those guys to make money.
“Their opportunities are going to be more centered around local businesses, hitting lessons, football camps. I think there’s a huge amount of emphasis that could be put on things like speed camps and there are three UW-Whitewater players there.
“I think there are tons of opportunities for those guys to make money. It isn’t like a D1 level where there are more eyeballs on you, but I expect there will be opportunities there.”
Bullis is not aware of any of his players utilizing the NIL legistation.
“It’s uncharted territory what it’s going to look like at our level,” Bullis said. “We have to navigate through this to figure out what it is and what does it mean for our kids, and what does it mean for our program?”
Bullis said he’ll know more once the coaches go through their annual compliance meetings.
“I would assume that will be the first thing on the docket,” Bullis said.