What’s Going On?
The GRLC is an up and coming conference in the MCLA and will be going through some major changes in the coming years. Well, those changes are still in the works, and a new GRLC tourney location, as of yet, has not been found. Phil Dodson, Head Coach of the University of Illinois Lacrosse team spoke with me on the probability of one location, among many other thoughts he has regarding the conference he has enjoyed playing in, and now coaches in. The GRLC will be losing one of their main powers, and a team who is consistently ranked in the top 25 almost every year in Lindenwood when they go NCAA. In fact, the GRLC tournament is currently held at their university, and many think it is unfair because it’s almost a home-field advantage. However, in my opinion, and some others have said, if the team is ready, and the coach is confident in their team, the venue shouldn’t matter because that team should be able to win anywhere, anytime, in any atmosphere. Nevertheless, once Lindenwood leaves the journey begins in which the GRLC will need to find a suitable venue for all the teams to agree upon that will suit the tournament and provide a great experience for everyone who participates. Below are the thoughts and opinions from Coach Phil Dodson, which I find very insightful.
What are your thoughts on the GRLC tournament location, and even what the status of the location should be after Lindenwood leaves the conference in the future?
Obviously I am against any school hosting the conference tournament. I would like to see an effort for the tournament to mimic that of the national tournament. They hold one of the biggest youth tournaments at the same time as the national tournament and it almost forces these kids to watch our games. As a result we get more fans and the MCLA is legitimized. I had plans for 2010 for the tournament to be held up in the Chicago area along side a youth tournament but plans fell through when we discovered that the weekend of our tournament was the same as a youth camp/tourney put on by Notre Dame (effectively taking all of the potential teams away from our tournament). I have plans to try again next year and really hope that the board of directors will seriously consider Chicago as an option as the vast number of GRLC Alumni and Parents reside in the Chicago area.
What does the division outlook entail for now and the future in your opinion?
I’m not sure where the GRLC is headed. Over the past three years four D1 A teams have been added (Purdue, Indiana, Wisconsin and now Miami OH) people talk about the progress of Kansas as being added to D1A but I don’t see it they have been in D1A before and have dropped back down I see their growth as more of a cyclical trend going up and back down. This is different than what I have observed over the years with Iowa. Iowa has truly grown in my mind and I feel they are moving toward the D1A status. This year they had over 60 try out and for the first time had to make cuts. Even here at Illinois we don’t make cuts, we have 60+ players come out day one but they naturally drop off (now we’re at 34).
My pipe dream is for there to be a formation of a Big Ten conference (of course we wouldn’t be able to call it that) but a conference that had all the big ten schools, or schools from traditionally big ten areas to fill out a D2 (if it is required to become a conference). I already try and schedule as many as I can and it could become one of the strongest conferences. But again everything would change when Michigan upgrades to the NCAA ranks. That’s my pipe dream, I don’t see it happening but I think it would be really cool (the GRLC already has six big ten schools all were missing is Minnesota Michigan and MSU; yes I have began to include Nebraska).
What are the thoughts on the preview of the GRLC (Division 1) as well?
The season preview seemed rushed almost like they were getting it out there just to say that they got it out there. I also think that the early conference games are going to have no indication on how the conference tournament pans out. Moreover, the winter we have had has affected teams a great deal. In fact, I spoke with Coach Euker today and they haven’t been able to get on a field at all. They have been on a basketball court playing with tennis balls. Wisconsin is practicing on that indoor soccer field which is not even the size of a half field and then on the other hand Indiana seems to be using a full size indoor football field, as is Iowa which we had the please to visit this past weekend. Once teams are actually getting outside and have the ability to practice we will see them play to their potential and I don’t see the outcome of games in February and March translating to the outcomes come May.
The preview upset a few, and others were not bothered by it at all because it was all pre-season buzz. In one coach’s words, “It did exactly what it was supposed to do, create a whole bunch of talk and fire up some teams who may have thought they should be ranked higher.” Coach Euker at Missouri told me he was very humbled by the ranking they received, but they had yet to play a game at that time, and they still had quite a bit to prove. The only element I would like to see more improved is a detailed breakdown of players lost and graduated/transferred and their awards. I believe it would allow the fans and media to improve their relations with all the teams and improve the fan base overall. The understanding of the MCLA would improve greatly, and everyone wouldn’t have to think so hard on who their team lost, or who may have transferred in the off-season; especially if a sports writer does not cover the team. The changes in the MCLA are great, but things still need to be figured out and improved! I wanted to give a special thanks to Coach Phil Dodson for giving his time.
I am the Managing Editor for UMGoBlog and UMGoBlue, and I am originally from the Detroit area. I love sports and have played and excelled at them all; football, basketball, lacrosse, soccer, hockey, powerlifting, and baseball. I cover mainly the University of Michigan Men’s lacrosse team, and occasionally do the graphics as well. Feel free to contact me to chat about anything as I even write for CollegeLax as well. Josh@umgoblue.com and Twitter.com/TheRealHag