MAC Raided? By who a 1-AA conference. How many of their schools will hit the new 1-A standards for attendance? Say goodbye to Buffalo, E Mich, Kent St, Ohio, Cent Mich and possibly others. ::)
You've got your list wrong.
CentMich hasn't fallen below any discussed minimum average attendance level - even when they were winning only 1-2 games per year. Even in bad years they draw over 18,000. In good years, they draw over 21,000. Pretty stable, by any standards. Ohio and Miami(OH) are about the same. Toledo, Marshall and WestMich have better, more consistant attendance. UCF has a short history - but they average over 17,000 consistently. 2 MAC teams have attedance that fluctuates above and below 17,000 - depending on their record - BGSU and BallSt. Presently BGSU is over 17,000 - and BallSt is under 17,000.
Buffalo, KentSt, Akron and EMU are all consistently below 17,000.
The other 9 (Marshall, UCF, Miami(OH), Ohio, WestMich, CentMich, Toledo, BGSU, NoIll) are in no danger of falling below the 15,000 or 17,000 rule right now. That's 9 MAC teams - all above all the proposed minimums - which is enough to maintain the minimum 8 I-A all-sports teams required (even without adding UCF for all-sports).
Now, that doesn't mean the MAC is the picture of I-A FB health. They are in no danger of the MAC being invited (in whole or in part) to the BCS --- nor are they even on par with the MWC or C-USA for attendance, or TV interest or bowl games. They are however clearly healthier than the SBC is (or will be in the forseeable future). And the argument can also be made that they are on par - or even healthier than the WAC in many respects.
Let's compare the MAC to the SBC:
At the bare minimum, more MAC teams will survive the 17,000 rule teams than are even in the SBC now. The SBC has several teams consistently below the minimum (ArkSt, La-Laf, La-Mon, MTSU, Idaho) and several of those have managed to crest the 17,000 rule with dubious counting methods (like counting away game attendances), free tickets and counting practices that make the Florida Presidential ballot look like the textbook defintion of precision.
Idaho counts a game AT WashSt as a home game in their averages every other year (the years they do manage to be above the minimum). Yes, they ARE located close to WashSt - but they ARE mostly WashSt fans in the stands. MTSU does the same against Vanderbilt in Nashville. La-Laf counted a game in the Superdome mostly attended by their I-AA opponent. If EastMich counted a game AT Michigan (5-7 miles away) as a home game, they would need no other fans to show up all year
to average more than 15,000 fans per game (5x17,000 = 85,000; Michigan averages over 100,000 per game).
Adding UtahSt will bolster the SBC for a while - but the SBC will still be short of the 8 full time members required to continue to be a I-A conference - EVEN IF La-Mon or Idaho is added for all-sports and manages to survive. Actually, to survive the 8 count - BOTH Idaho AND La-Mon have to be added for all-sports - and BOTH must survive. At the same time, La-Laf, MTSU and ArkSt must continue to maintain attendance (or continue pretending to).
As an even stronger indicator of the lack of SBC strength - their ONE bowl team (UNT - one of the best attendance draws in their conference), going to their ONE bowl game (so every SBC fan was concentrated on one - and only one, bowl game), in a MAJOR tourism town (not Detroit in December or Mobile, Alabama - like the MAC bowl games have), drew less than 20,000 fans! That's horrendous! The MAC bowls (by comparison) both average more than twice that.
The only SBC advantage over the MAC is the location of their bowl - but the MAC is more stable, better attended, in less danger from the proposed 17,000 rule, has more bowl games, has better attended bowl games, has better rated teams, and has enough teams to survive.
Let's compare to the WAC:
1) A weak Half: The WAC has SJSU in the west - which is like KentSt for FB support. Neither has any support.
But the WAC-east doesn't have a team that could compete for the MAC title - or even a division. The entire group (La-Tech, Rice, Tulsa, UTEP and SMU) are all horrible. This terrible eastern half is the main reason that the WAC lost the GMAC Bowl. The nearest good WAC team is west of the Rockies. The WAC doesn't need an eastern bowl. The bowls recognize that - so the WAC doesn't have a eastern bowl. This may also be the reason the WAC doesn't expand to 12 teams --- who wants to see a WAC-east champion in the WAC championship game .... or ... at all?
Compare that to the MAC: At least the MAC championship is competitive. Pick any likely east champion (Marshall, Miami(OH) or UCF) and match them with any likely MAC-west champion (Toledo, WestMich, BGSU or NoIll) and you have a competitive game.
Back to the WAC: The WAC-west (the MUCH better half of the FB conference) has tons of instability because 4 of the teams would jump to the MWC if they were ever invited (Hawaii, BoiseSt, FresnoSt and Nevada) - and any of them could be invited any time. The 5th west team (SJSU) is unstable because it is unlikely to continue to be a I-A team. So there are no reliably "WAC teams" in the WAC-west!
Compare that to MAC instability: In the MAC, 5 teams are likely headed to I-AA (BallSt, EastMich, Akron, KentSt, Buffalo) - leaving 9. Only one team (Marshall) has ANY chance of being invited to another conference in the forseeable future - maybe UCF will as well someday. That leaves at minimum - 8. Invite UCF for "all sports" and the MAC survives no matter what.
WAC Bowls: Aside from losing the GMAC Bowl to the MAC (an obvious outside comparison between the two conferences that went the MAC's way), the WAC bowls are a mess.
The Silicon Valley Classic Bowl is probably dead. They had no sponsor last year - and have no prospects for this year. The attendance was horrible - even with nearby FresnoSt as the WAC representative. They could not pay last year's teams what was promised so the WAC cancelled the payment owed the WAC conference.
The Humanitarian Bowl only does well when BoiseSt is the WAC representative.
-- UTEP was the WAC rep a few years ago (they played BoiseSt from the BigWest - the last year before BoiseSt joined the WAC). UTEP was one of the best attendance draws in the WAC (40,000 plus), was the conferance champion - and took fewer than 300 people to Boise for the bowl game.
-- Several teams have turned down H-Bowl invites - and last year several Big12 teams threatened not to go if they were selected. This year the Big12 dumped the game in favor of the new CowTown Bowl.
-- A few years ago - after UCLA turned them down, Clemson was brought in by subsidizing their costs to attend. In other words, the H-Bowl has to bribe schools to come there!
I'm not saying Detroit is a better place to come - but at least the game is indoors!
The Hawaii Bowl has a special deal to take Hawaii whenever they are available - so it's only "kind of" a WAC Bowl. When Hawaii stinks, another WAC team may go to play - but few will go to watch. It's too far for anybody's fan base to come. If you paid to go all the way to Hawaii - even as a football fan of the team in the game - how much time would you spend at a game? How much time would your wife or girlfriend allow you to spend in a stadium?
Add to this set of bowl problems the fact that the WAC subsidizes its bowls - i.e. they PAY to have bowl games! Now instead of bowl payouts being used to travel and stay at the bowl site - the WAC teams PAY to bring the OTHER team in and for the OTHER team to stay. On top of that, the WAC team that gets to go also has to pay it's own costs.
So while they have 3 bowls presently - 1 which will most likely die this year - and the other 2 only work if the home city team is invited. Yea - that works!
That being said, the WAC has some teams that year-in and year-out are probably better than all but Marshall in the MAC - like FresnoSt, Hawaii and BoiseSt. The MAC has a group of 5-6 that are just as bad as the worst 5-6 in the WAC, but the MAC still has good teams in both halves of the conference - the WAC does not. The lack of balance in the WAC makes it unprofitable to expand to 12 teams and hold a "championship" game.