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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2003 9:23 am 
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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):

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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.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2003 2:31 pm 
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The MAC certainly exudes some quality, comes with some rich history and is willing to build from within. Though I think we all agree and understand that the MAC stands to gain tremendously if some of its members were dismissed/lost. The problem will be in how to address that. I can't imagine the league commissioners showing up at ECU games in an effort to discourage people from raising attendance. ("That's right folks, go on home. Nothing to see here.") In fact, I assume they'll play nice and try to help their members as best as possible.

Still, I agree with Joedadi and am wondering if the MAC might try to move in this direction. I do think Bowling Green will survive though. I'd also add ECU in the mix, as well. In this above alignment several MAC schools would be closer than any CUSA opponent, and I think their football reputations are a good marriage as well.


Last edited by gunnerfan on Tue Sep 23, 2003 2:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2003 6:14 pm 
Joedadi, replace Akron with Bowling Green. Akron lost to Kent at home and is doing bad.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2003 6:26 pm 
What if the MAC adds Louisville, Temple, Cincinnati, Memphis, USF, ECU, Navy, and Army and then splits into a loosely-based federation? ???


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2003 6:33 pm 
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I like the general direction of your alignment, Joedadi.

The MAC probably also suffers from perhaps too many schools in Michigan and Ohio. If it found some way to cut EMU, and just promote the CMU/WMU rivalry, then attendence might increase here. Ditto for Ohio, perhaps cut down to the best four Ohio teams. Then tolerate Buffalo for five more years to see if the investment in New York pays off, add Temple in the East. Thats ten schools counting NIU and Ball State.

I think they should be resigned to losing Marshall to CUSA, unless CUSA goes completely belly-up... If CUSA really botches it, ECU, Memphis might be ways to broaden the geographic footprint a bit...that would mean Marshall would stay...

The heart of the MAC's problem is attendance. Having six Ohio schools certainly doesn't help, creating too many possibilities, splitting too many possible followings into smaller pies. Even the ACC thinks four in one state is enough... Ditto BigXII and Pac10...

:D


Last edited by javaman on Tue Sep 23, 2003 6:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2003 6:55 pm 
That makes a lot of sense. Which two Ohio schools should it cut?


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2003 8:32 pm 
Western Kentucky University is looking to make the move to 1A football soon......they would be a nice fit for the MAC!!

Football:

The are the defending 1AA national champs!

They have won the gateway conference (best in 1AA) the last 3 seasons.

This past wkd they played in front of 18,000+ fans (sold out) and another 3,000 fan watched from outside the stadium.

Sounds like Marshall before they came to the MAC!!



Basketball:

They went to the final 4 in 1971

They have 18 NCAA tourny appearances

They are in the top 15 in the country for total wins

Top 10 in the country for winning %

Top 10 in the country for average wins per season

Top 10 in the country for 20 win seasons

2 years ago they went to RUPP ARENA and beat Kentucky by 12 points.

3 straight 24+ win seasons

3 straight trips to the NCAA

Multiple sweet 16's

They have the best ON-CAMPUS arena in the country. It just got a facelift: 16 suites (all sold out for the next 5 years) seats 8,000+ and they average 7,000+ a game!

WKU sounds like the perfect fit for the MAC! Not to mention they want OUT of the Sun belt.......WKU has also won the award as the best sports school in the conference the last 3 seasons.

WKU has a GREAT womens basketball also. In the last 18 seasons they have 4 final 4's and a National runner!!

WKU is good in Baseball, volleyball and soccer!!

The MAC should get WKU before somebody else does!



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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2003 8:33 pm 
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I think EMU and Akron are gone, even if the MAC gets its 75% exemption passed. They could still only protect 3 schools. EMU, Akron, Kent and Buffalo are all struggling. Kent is their best all-around program, and like it was said above, they've got too many schools in Ohio and Michigan.

Akron has had decent teams, but still can't draw. They have a very old off-campus stadium and certainly can't afford a new stadium or major renovation. EMU is in the shadow of Michigan and will always have problems.

I think the other 4 Ohio schools qualify and the MAC needs one school in the Cleveland area, so somehow they will figure out a way to keep Kent. They end up with NIU, BS, WMU, CMU and 5 Ohio schools. Whether Buffalo will make it is iffy. UCF will soon be gone. Marshall may or may not leave. I don't know if they make geographic sense in CUSA if Cincinnati, UL, Marquette and DePaul leave.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2003 6:17 am 
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Nice article in USAToday about the MAC:

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/football/mac/2003-09-23-mac-feature_x.htm

The heart of the article deals with attendance requirements, the issue every discussion of the MAC and SunBelt revolves around.

It does clarify one of the questions raised on a thread elsewhere about attendance:

"Fail to meet any of the criteria, and the NCAA still hasn't spelled out the consequences. An initial proposal would have placed a school in "restricted membership" for a year, barring it from a bowl, then bounce it from I-A if it didn't measure up a second consecutive year. The MAC has submitted a plan that would hold off restricted membership until a school fell short three years in a row, then pull I-A status if it doesn't meet all requirements a fourth year.

That, Chryst says, "would provide some stability so it doesn't look like your summer softball league with teams moving up and down flights."

A final decision is due from the NCAA's Division I Board of Directors in April. But the concern resonates with its chairman, Kansas Chancellor Robert Hemenway, who agrees, "You don't want the organization to be in flux. You don't want people floating up and floating down."

:)


Last edited by javaman on Wed Sep 24, 2003 6:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2003 7:28 am 
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1) I have to agree with Buckeyes, here. One of my co-workers is a WKU grad and full of praise for the school and their sports programs. If they wish to move up I think they can pull it off, and the comparisons to Marshall from years ago is not that far fetched. If the MAC does shed some dead weight, then it can afford to play nursemaid to another promoted school. That UGA chose their new bball coach from WKU speaks of the quality of that program, but also merits watching to see where the program goes now! (Also, I'll challenege the best on-campus arena note: Ever been in Cameron Indoor? Or the renovated Thrillerdome? And while Rupp and the "Dean Dome" lack intamacy, they're quite impressive for big games.)

2) However, I will disagree with Bullet here:
Quote:
Marshall may or may not leave. I don't know if they make geographic sense in CUSA if Cincinnati, UL, Marquette and DePaul leave.

While Marshall would be attractive to other conferences, and certainly other conferences may have more to offer than the MAC right now, I hope they stay put and feel they epitomize the MAC and its future. And they're a perfect fit, geographically. The problem they'll face in deciding on a possible move is that the possibility of the MAC losing some school to 1-A standards will still take time, and even then nothing is guaranteed. Otherwise, we've shown scenarios where the MAC could become an even more legitimate conference than it is now, and Marshall could be forever credited as the program that raised the MAC to greater heights.


Last edited by gunnerfan on Wed Sep 24, 2003 7:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2003 8:06 am 
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That makes a lot of sense. Which two Ohio schools should it cut?


Sorry to say, Akron and Bowling Green. Location problems. Despite Kent's attendance problems, its in a location in which it has a genuine opportunity to change this pattern...


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2003 8:32 am 
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Despite my previous support for such a move, I have just checked and found that WKU's avg. attendance for the past three years has been 7,300 in 2002, 9,100 in 01 and 8,800 in 2000. Even I would have to question whether or not they could draw an additional 8,000 people with a MAC schedule.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2003 11:12 am 
Gunner,

In 1992 WKU almost dropped football. They have been recovering since. About 5 years ago WKU hired a new Pres and 4 years ago they hired a new AD and the sports teams have taken off. Football has won a national championship and basketball has 3 straight 24+ win seasons. The attendance this season will be about 13,500+ while playing 1 NAIA school and 1 D2 school. WKU, before 1992 (talked about dropping football), always averaged over 13,000. The AD told me it would be NO Problem getting the attendance over 15,000 a game!!

You said the MAC schedule will not help WKu get over 15k average but look at who they have been playing!! Rather than playing Indiana State and Southern Ill they will be playing Toledo and Miami (OH)! To the people in B.G. it would be a huge difference. Another reason WKU attendance will not be a problem is because they will have no competition. U of L and UK are the ONLY other schools in KY with 1A football. In Tenn, Vandy is the only school close to WKU that has 1A football BUT NOBODY likes Vandy football. If WKU added an additional 12,000 seats they would average over 20,000 people a game.....easy!!

Obviously I only have to worry about this kid of stuff for my favorite JV team.......Ohio State has other things to worry about........like why every game is tight!!


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