The MAC is a conference with a location problem: Too many schools packed into too small a space. It also has a mixed culture: Small-town, mid sized privates mixed with schools with urban schools with BCS level potential producing FCS-level results. My advice: Split the MAC in two separate conferences. One of these conferences would be a low FBS-level football league; this is direction which many of the MAC schools are eventually headed toward. The other league would be one of the most prestigious non-BCS conferences in the nation, with a northeastern base and also a strong basketball league.
Before I get to the split, I shall develop a base of two conferences. The FBS conference is the one which will keep the conference name, as such; I’ll move the conference headquarters to Philadelphia. Second, I’ll add three more schools to the MAC: The University of Massachusetts, The University of North Carolina-Charlotte and the University of Delaware. I think obtaining Delaware will be easy; the school looks promising as a FBS football member and could compete in the MAC immediately.
Here’s my plan for UMASS. First, I’ll offer Temple and ultimatum: Move all your sports to the MAC or get lost. Given the amount of funding they’ve been putting into their football program recently, I sincerely doubt they’d be in a position to turn me down. After Temple accepts my ultimatum, I’ll approach UNC-Charlotte with the possibility of moving their sports to the MAC. I would promise them a future home in an eastern football league. I have a hunch the UNC-Charlotte would prefer to start their program at FBS if they could find a solid conference to start with. This will severely weaken the Atlantic Ten. After receiving a commitment from UNC-Charlotte, I would approach UMASS about moving their sports from the weakened Atlantic Ten to the MAC. At first, I would not ask for FBS football (That can wait until the split). Since the MAC would now provide a better basketball home than the A10, I feel it likely that UMASS would accept.
I would work, and live with, the following assumptions. First, the Big East has not split, instead have added two more members: The university of Saint Louis and the University of Memphis. This leads to major instability in the Atlantic Ten and [especially] Conference USA. With Memphis gone, I can probably cherry-pick the geographically isolated C-USA members. Memphis’ basketball success has been the one thing holding C-USA together.
My next agenda would be to find a couple of struggling schools a new home. I would begin talks with the Missouri Valley about taking in Kent State and Eastern Michigan. The two schools are far ahead of the other Missouri Valley options, so my hunch is that they’d accept. This leaves me with:
Conference Division One:
Conference Division II:
After five years of about 16 teams, I would figure its time to split. I would take group one and add three more all-sports schools to the equation: the Universities of Eastern Carolina, the University of Central Florida and Marshall. I would be able to pull this off because the distances between the two eastern C-USA schools and El Paso and the loss of Memphis makes C-USA a lot less attractive conference. This would bring me up to nine members. Secondly, I will add two more non-football schools: Boston University and the SUNY-Stony Brook. These two non-football schools help boost my conference’s academic reputation and strengthen my northern base.
The Mid American Conference now encompasses twelve members and looks like this:
Miami of Ohio
I have a feeling if I can convince Eastern Carolina and Marshall to come aboard, the University of Central Florida will also join hands.
I would complement this lineup with two new bowls: First, I’d leverage a bowl in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to be played at Lincoln Financial Field. I would label the bowl the ‘Bowl of Brotherly Love’. Philadelphia also acts as my conference headquarters. Despite the Northern location, I would try to leverage this bowl as either on New Year’s Eve or New Years Day. I would also try to use its location and permanent status to swipe the Big East #2 from the Gator/Sun Bowl. With the acquisition of Central Florida, I will also likely swipe the Saint Petersburg Bowl from C-USA. This would increase our fledgling bowl lineup to two, as I’m guessing we’ll end up with the International Bowl from the split. I would console the MAC by offering their #3 a spot in ‘the bowl for the cure” where we will send our number #3. So far, the MAC’s bowl lineup looks like this:
#1 Bowl of Brotherly Love vs. #2 Big East
#2 International Bowl vs. #4 Big East
#3 St Petersburg vs. #6 Big East/Sun Belt
#4 Bowl for the Cure vs. #3 MAC
Eventually, I will start talks with the Big East about co-hosting the Bowl of Brotherly Love. A large metro area, central to the conference base, and a 60,000+ state of the art stadium make this a hard deal to pass up. Meanwhile, the MAC will slowly be developing into one of the better non-BCS conferences in both Basketball and Football. By now, UMASS should have decided to pursue 1-A, and we should be at ten members. Given our schools raw attributes, we should pass C-USA, the Sun Belt, the remaining WAC schools, and the ex-MAC, placing us second behind the MWC in the non-BCS schools. It will also have one of the better academic reputations in FBS, sporting almost all D/RUs with over 20,000 student bodies. However, the MAC has something the MWC can’t claim: The conference contains a bowl that could become BCS eligible with a state-of-the art stadium in a major metropolis. The MAC and the Big East would then petition the ‘Bowl of Brotherly Love’ for BCS membership. Given the raw statistics, we should be able to achieve this.
I also have a plan for the seven ex-MAC schools. Under the new name Great Lakes Collegiate Leagues (GLCL), I will ambitiously add three more members: First, the university of Youngstown State, Second, the University of Southern Illinois. I would then open my doors to three non-football member: The University of Milwaukee at Wisconsin, The University of Nebraska at Omaha, and the University of Missouri at Saint Louis. University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin would eventually be expected to sponsor Division 1 Football. This gives me the following twelve members:
University of Missouri-Saint Louis*
University of Nebraska-Omaha*
I would then use the leverage from the stadium size and location to switch the teams between the GMAC bowl and the Motor City Bowl. So I’d be sending the #2 team to play the #7 Big Ten team in Mobile, and sending the #1 team to play the #2 C-USA team in Detroit. Many of the C-USA teams travel well, so the attendance should remain about the same. This would give me three bowls, which is about on par for a conference of my stature. The Bowl lineup would look like this:
#1 Motor City Bowl vs. #2 C-USA
#2 GMAC Bowl vs. #7 Big Ten
#3 Bowl for the Cure vs. #4 MAC
And that’s just about all she wrote on the MAC..