There was a column written for Friday’s print edition on Martin Luther College and its surprising 49-21 victory over St. Scholastica the previous weekend.
I have flashbacks of articles and smaller items from Sports Illustrated, when it was a weekly staple in my reading. One of those was of New Ulm’s Lutheran college being near the bottom of all the college football teams in the country in a rating published by SI.
That led to this passage in Friday’s column:
“ … when Sports Illustrated tried to rate every NCAA football school in the country years ago, Martin Luther was a challenger to now-defunct Owatonna Pillsbury for last place.
“’I’ve been here 23 years, and the article was before that,” MLC athletic director Jim Unke said. “I’ve heard a few times that there were 325 schools, maybe a few more, and we were ranked 323.’’’
There was an effort made to track down that list, but the combined forces of a couple of us could not find it on Friday afternoon, when was in New Ulm, writing the piece. Considering the column was intended more as a light-hearted look at MLC’s football past, I went with the uncertainty of both myself and Jim Unke.
@TimTreder, a Twitter follower, took it as a challenge and was able to send me a copy of the bottom 10 from that list. It wass an item in Sports Illustrated’s wonderful, issue-leading “Scorecard’’ section. The issue was from Nov. 11, 1991, and it also included a photo of Kirby Puckett shooting pool at his charity event and wearing one of his gaudy sweaters.
You can find that either on Tim’s Twitter account or at @Patrick_Reusse.
The college football list was compiled as a hobby by David Rothman, an aerospace technician. We were way off on the numbers in the column: Rothman rated 677 four-year college football teams – all divisions NCAA and NAIA.
First off, Owatonna Pillsbury got a bad rap Friday. That football team wasn’t on the list … possibly because it had dropped out of the UMAC and wasn't playing football.
Here’s the rest of it:
In 1991, the college in New Ulm was named Dr. Martin Luther, and it had a sister college, Northwestern, in Watertown, Wis. They were both operated by the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. In 1995, the Wisconsin synod decided to close the college in Watertown and merge it into Dr. Martin Luther.
The name was changed to Martin Luther College. But in 1991, both Dr. Martin Luther and Northwestern were rated in Rothman’s bottom 10 – and, yes, Dr. Martin Luther was 0-6 and rated No. 677, also known as last.
Wisconsin’s Northwestern was rated No. 668. St. Paul Bible (now Crown College) was rated No. 672. And Northwestern of Roseville, now possessing the strongest overall athletic program in the UMAC, was rated No. 674.
So, indeed, as a headline suggested on the MLC column, that team has gone from the very bottom of college football – according to Rothman – to last week’s huge victory over St. Scholastica