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MAC Blogger Roundtable, Week 2

September 7, 2010

Questions this week are posed by Kyle Warber of Fire Up Chips.

1). The MAC has looked weak so far against out-of-conference opponents. Is this shaping up to be a down year for the MAC?

What do you mean, “they looked weak”, they were 6-7 this weekend? Oh, that’s right, they were 6-0 against FCS teams, but 0-7 against FBS opponents. Well, if it’s not going to be a down year, the MAC has a lot of ground to make up.

2). Why don’t our fans come to games? Whether it is Buffalo in a large city or Bowling Green off the side of a highway, our stadiums are generally…uninspired. Even after Central Michigan’s GREATEST WIN OF ALL TIME against tormenting in-state rival MSU, Central Michigan’s stadium was half full the next week against Alcorn State. Can anything be done to at least get on par with a Tulsa or ECU?

Per home game MAC attendance graph

Remember this chart?

Attendance is certainly a problem for the MAC — one that I’ve written plenty about — but it’s one that, to a degree, has to be addressed on a school-by-school basis. The problem is certainly most acute for EMU, partly due to the proximity to the University of Michigan, but it’s a recurrent problem throughout the conference. To the extent that it can be addressed by the conference, or collectively, there are a few keys.

First, the MAC needs to combat the perception that it is the “little Big (11) Ten”. This is also a problem the Sun Belt Conference faces vis-a-vie the SEC, but less of a concern for the Mountain West and Western Athletic Conferences, which both extend their footprint beyond the PAC-10. To that extent, perhaps we should all hope for success from Buffalo and Temple, which are generally outside the Big (11) Ten footprint.

Another issue is the stadium experience. I can’t speak for other schools, but Rynearson Stadium has problems. Some, like the stadium layout, I’ve written about, and others will be forthcoming.

The bottom line is that MAC schools can’t put out an inferior product and expect people to flock to games. In fact, since other schools (Big (11) Ten, Notre Dame, etc.) represent an entrenched status quo in the region, MAC  programs will have to put out not just an equal product, but a superior product just to get equal results. (Consider Boise State’s issues with the BCS, discussed more below.)

3). People act like a win for Boise State is a win for the “little guy.” Is Boise State really carrying water for the non-aq’s anymore? It seems to me they are essentially a BCS program at this point in time.

Bronco Stadium, home of the Boise State Broncos.

Personally, I’m terrified that Boise State will get into the BCSNCG, and maybe even win the Mythical National Championship, because BCS defenders will use that to argue that the system works. I hope they do run the table this year but still get passed over for, say, a one-loss Alabama team. It’s not that I don’t like Boise State — I LOVE the blue turf, as well as the idea of playing outdoors in Idaho in November — but that I wan’t the BCS to die a horrible painful death, and one of the keys to that is for the Broncos to continue to win, and continue to be shut out of the BCSNCG.

As for whether Boise State is the “little guy”, I don’t think so. They fill a role in football similar to Gonzaga or Butler in basketball. They don’t surprise anyone (except people who aren’t paying attention) when they win, but they can never quite win it all. They do really well with the resources they have, which are a lot less than every AQ team. And by a lot less, I mean 5 to 20 times less. If they were to receive the funding (through conference revenue sharing) that AQ schools get, they’d be unstoppable — not that anyone stopped them last year, even without that money.

4. The game of the week has to be Temple versus Central Michigan on Thursday night (ESPNU). Who ya’ got in that match-up?

Temple. Central Michigan just lost too many key pieces from last year; I don’t think they’ll be terrible, but I think they’ll wind up somewhere in the middle of the MAC.

5. Which MAC QB is going to take the crown as “best of the conference” when the dust settles at the end of the season?

EMU’s Gillett. Oh wait, they let them throw the ball too?

6. Rank them FIRST to WORST.

1. Northern Illinois. Still, but just barely. Another game like they had against Iowa State and they’ll start dropping fast.
2. Temple. This was a close one, but as far as I’m concerned, wins over FCS teams — even the defending FCS champion — don’t count. If they win convincingly over Central Michigan this Thursday, I may bump them up to #1.
3. Ohio.
4. Central Michigan.
5. Buffalo.
6. Bowling Green.
7. Western Michigan. Near the end of the game, it seemed like Michigan State was trying to let the Broncos back in, and the Brocos said, “No thanks, we’ll take the loss.” Teams like that move down in the rankings fast.
8. Kent State. I moved them up after a convincing win over Murray State. Yeah, FCS wins don’t really count, but since half the conference played FCS teams this week, I’ve got to look at something.
9. Toledo. Outscored 41-2 at home. ‘Nuff said.
10. Eastern Michigan. Hey, Hustle Belt ranked the Eagles at #10, and I can’t very well rank them lower than a non-EMU blog!
11. Akron. They just got hammered by the Syracuse Orange, in a game that was expected to be reasonably close.
12. Miami. My sense is that their close game had more to due with errors by Florida than Miami’s quality.
13. Ball State. Just because Alan at Over The Pylon gave me a hard time for this call last week, I’m leaving them there.

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