Hi guys, there's a lot happening in the MAC lately, and it seems to be having a very good year vis-a-vis BCS schools. Have noticed MAC topics appear on a variety of threads, and it would be nice to start sharing our MAC opinions and impressions in one place. There are two things that are probably given, however:
1) The MAC will survive...
2) The MAC will probably be better after elimination of one or two weak programs and realignment sends them some more compatible long-range members...
To get us started, I've copied a New York times article below (copied since registration is required for access):
Surprised by the MAC? You Shouldn't Be
By JOE DRAPE
When Bobby Bowden was a young coach at his alma mater, Howard - now Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. - one of his spring rites was to head down the road to Tuscaloosa to take a few players off the hands of Bear Bryant.
Those were the days when Bryant, the man in the houndstooth fedora, could spread around more than 100 scholarships, not only ensuring that the Crimson Tide got the finest players in the South, but also preventing his Southeastern Conference rivals from landing the second-best players.
Those who were not quite Bryant material were shopped to coaches at smaller area programs, like Bowden's, that were more than happy to take them as transfers. This stockpiling tactic worked wonders for the Crimson Tide, which won six national titles under the Bear. In the late 1970's, however, the National Collegiate Athletic Association placed a 95-scholarship limit on Division I-A football. Beginning in 1992, the N.C.A.A. further reduced that number to 85.
Now college football has a new rite: programs that were once merely satisfied to sweep up the crumbs from the big-time powers march onto their campuses today and crush their top-10 dreams.
It's called parity, and over the weekend, the Mid-American Conference put on a muscular display of how the times are changing. Marshall went to No. 6-ranked Kansas State and, in a 27-20 upset, snapped the Wildcats' 41-game home winning streak over nonconference opponents. Toledo, at home, defeated No. 9 Pittsburgh, 35-31. And Northern Illinois traveled to Tuscaloosa and rolled over the No. 21 Tide, 19-16
"We played pathetic," Alabama tailback Shaud Williams said. "I've never been so embarrassed in my life."
The Crimson Tide need not be, nor should most of the other MAC victims. Northern Illinois (3-0), which opened the season with a victory over then-ranked Maryland, has earned its new No. 20 ranking. Toledo (3-0) is atop the "others receiving votes" list in the poll, the unofficial No. 26.
Kansas State, however, should be plenty embarrassed. The Wildcats have spent a decade loading their nonconference schedule with Division I-AA teams to pad their record before entering Big 12 Conference play and then acting indignant when the inevitable late-season loss keeps them out of a major bowl game.
Marshall had won five of the last six MAC titles, put two quarterbacks in the N.F.L. - Chad Pennington of the Jets and Byron Leftwich of the Jaguars - and deserved more respect from Kansas State Coach Bill Snyder and his players.
Perhaps the only people feeling more sheepish today than the Wildcats are the presidents and the athletic directors of the six conferences that control the four major bowl games that make up the Bowl Championship Series. To keep the nearly $90 million in B.C.S. bowl revenue in their control, they have intimated without much subtlety that because the Marshalls and Toledos do not have 80,000-seat stadiums or generate millions in team merchandise, they also do not play football well enough to deserve a postseason showcase.
Today, the MAC can argue that it is this season's toughest conference. In addition to Northern Illinois, Marshall and Toledo, there's Bowling Green (3-1), which already beat No. 22 Purdue and lost to No. 4 Ohio State, 24-17, on Saturday. The Buckeyes, the defending national champions, needed an interception by Will Allen on the final play to secure the victory. And Miami of Ohio (2-1) beat the perennial Mountain West power Colorado State, 41-21, behind the passing of the Heisman Trophy contender Ben Roethlisberger, who completed 29 of 39 passes for 330 yards and 2 touchdowns.
No one should be surprised.
For 57 years, MAC teams have gotten the most out of overlooked players from football-crazed states like Ohio and Pennsylvania. Up until recently, the focus has been on the coaches, beginning with Miami's history as a training ground for greats like Ohio State's Woody Hayes and Michigan's Bo Schembechler, and continuing with the recent success of Wake Forest Coach Jim Grobe, who is poised to lead the Atlantic Coast Conference's annual doormat to a third winning season.
Now, however, the dwindling supply of scholarships at big-time programs and the demands from high school prospects to play immediately are leveling the field.
The MAC coaches recognize that, and they are recruiting more aggressively, using high-octane passing offenses to attract quarterbacks like Pennington, Leftwich, Roethlisberger and Toledo's Bruce Gradkowski.
Gradkowski, a sophomore from Pittsburgh, threw for 461 yards and 3 touchdowns on Saturday in his fourth career start.
The MAC teams still lack the depth of the larger state universities. Still, Marshall did not miss a beat with its backup quarterback, Graham Gochneaur, who, in his second start for the injured Stan Hill, was 16 for 24 for 106 yards and threw the winning touchdown pass with three and a half minutes left.
"Our kids have been in these arenas before," Northern Illinois Coach Joe Novak said. "The kids don't come into these arenas and get intimidated. We come in thinking we've got a chance to win."
That is because MAC teams have scheduled as many top-25 powers as possible to reinforce in their players the belief that they are big-time, too. Even better, the MAC gladly agrees to play on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays on ESPN to create brand awareness.
"Last year, we lost a close one to Marshall on a Tuesday night, and now every kid we talk to from Ohio to Texas knows who we are," Miami Coach Terry Hoeppner said. "You get on television, and the world opens for you."
Television executives and B.C.S. presidents ought to pay closer attention. The Bear Bryant days of power in the hands of a few are over. The Saturday night highlights shows are proving that, week in and week out
Last edited by javaman on Wed Oct 08, 2003 7:53 am, edited 1 time in total.