A THIRD of Miners' former league nationally-ranked in the preseason.

Here is yet another example of why Missouri S&T, Truman State, Lincoln University and Southwest Baptist University now compete in football as a member of the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC):

The Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) has four teams ranked in the NCAA Division II preseason national poll of one of the nation’s leading college football publications. In other words, a THIRD of the 12 schools in the MIAA football race are nationally-ranked.

S&T, Truman, Lincoln and SBU were all formerly football-playing members of the MIAA.

However, while the GLVC is considered by many to be the elite basketball conference among NCAA Division II programs, similarly the MIAA is seen by most as the D-II football version of the SEC.

In the last several years it became increasingly more difficult for S&T, Truman, Lincoln and Southwest Baptist to compete in the MIAA in football.

Lincoln became the first of that foursome to break away before rejoining the MIAA a couple of years ago. S&T switched to the GLVC in 2005. Truman State left the MIAA for the GLVC last school year.

Lincoln and Southwest Baptist are still members of the MIAA in all sports but football, but starting this year they, too, will be a member of the GLVC football race, which is in its second year of existence.
It’s exciting for those four schools to again be conference football rivals in a league they all feel they can compete in.

Meanwhile, the MIAA figures to again be at a different level - a national championship level.

According to the Lindy’s Sports 2014 NCAA Division II preseason football poll, four of the top-25 are from the MIAA.

Leading the charge is MIAA powerhouse and defending national champion Northwest Missouri State, which is ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll.

Also from the MIAA, Pittsburg State is ranked No. 6, Emporia State No. 13 and Missouri Western No. 24. S&T head coach Tyler Fenwick knows those teams well, as he was Missouri Western offensive coordinator for six seasons prior to joining the Miners in 2013.

The Northwest Missouri State Bearcats won their fourth national championship in 2013, going unbeaten. All four of Northwest Missouri’s national titles have come since 1998. Pittsburg State is the winningest all-time D-II football program and has won four national championships, the last one in 2011.

The GLVC is also represented in Lindy’s Sports preseason top-25, as defending league champion Indianapolis is ranked No. 19 nationally.

Of Indianapolis, Lindy’s said: “QB Connor Barthel is coming off strong spring; depth main concern throughout defense.”

Here is what Lindy’s Sports says about the four nationally-ranked MIAA squads:

1. Northwest Missouri State: “QB Brady Bolles new face of powerhouse program; showed growth during spring drills.”

6. Pittsburg State: “Gorillas return nine players on each side who started five-plus games in ’13.”

13. Emporia State: “QB Brent Wilson appears recovered from shoulder injury that sidelined him from playoffs.”

24. Missouri Western State: “Frosh T.J. LaFaver, soph. Nate Wilson battling to replace departed QB Travis Partridge.”

Indianapolis has one player named to Lindy’s 2014 All-Division II Preseason Team, as sophomore linebacker Derrick Bryant was named to second-team defense.

MIAA players named to the Lindy’s D-II Preseason Team include:

First Team: OL Cole Manhart, sr., Nebraska-Kearney; DL Matt Longacre, sr., NW Mo. State; LB Eric Reimer, sr., NW Mo. State; AP Marquez Clark, sr., Central Okla.

Second Team: RB Jeff Seybold, Jr., jr., Pittsburg St.; OL Jarrett Stastny, soph., Emporia State; DL Kenny Allen, jr., Central Okla.; DB Kyler Harris, jr., Northeastern St.