MAC Roundtable, week 4
The MAC Blogger Roundtable this week is hosted by Toledo blog Let’s Go Rockets.
1) What would you say is the biggest story line in the MAC so far this season? Surprises, injuries, etc?
We all knew that it would be a down year for the MAC, but I certainly didn’t expect it to be this bad. When you subtract out wins over FCS teams (and losses to FCS teams — yikes!), the MAC only has three non-conference wins, and those three teams are collectively 1-8 on the season. So I think it’s fair to say that the conference doesn’t really have any quality wins yet this year, and has registered several embarassing losses.
2) Which other team in college football most closely mirrors your respective MAC school (whether it be personnel / talent, coaching, reputation, injuries, etc.)?
I don’t think there’s any school that quite matches the historical futility that is EMU football. Other recent FBS bottom-dwellers include Florida International and Western Kentucky, but they both moved up from FCS within the past five years (2005 for FIU, which only first fielded a football team in 1999; 2007 for WKU, which won a Division I-AA championship in 2002), while EMU has struggled to field a competitive football team for decades. Key points in EMU’s legacy of losing include the latter half of Fred Trosko‘s tenure in the late 1950s and mid 1960s (a 29-game winless streak culminating not in Trosko’s firing but his quitting over the administration’s refusal to offer athletic scholarships), the Fountain Plan early 1980s capping athletic funding while fielding teams in more sports than any other MAC school, and the 1991 mascot change. There are plenty more, both old and recent, but let’s just say that I don’t think any other school has struggled as hard and as long with such poor results. The theme for the 2009 EMU football team was “Embrace the process”, and it’s clear to me that where EMU is today is a function of not just one or two bad years, but of a decades-long process.
3) If you had to select one player from any other MAC team to add to your roster — which player would you choose and why?
It would probably take a player like Terrelle Pryor or Denard Robinson to really make an impact, and I don’t know that there are any players like that in the MAC right now. That said, EMU has decent running backs (and more coming), a decent secondary (and more coming), a decent quarterback (if only Ron English would let him play), and capable receivers. Where the team is really short is in the defensive line and linebackers who are solid against the run. I don’t know who the MAC’s best players at those positions are, but that’s what the Eagles need.
4) What have the first three games of this season showed you about your team?
The team has definitely improved from 2009, but not nearly as much as I had hoped. Last year’s 13-point loss to Army was replaced with a 4-point loss; last year’s 48-point loss to Central Michigan was replaced with a 38-point loss. So clearly the Eagles are getting closer. But I thought the Eagles would have won a game by now, and I had hoped they would have won a couple. Obviously my expectations were not totally unrealistic, since two of the three games have gone down to the final minute.
The problem is that EMU is running out of winnable games. Games at Ohio State, at Virginia, and at Western Michigan are probably out of reach. The best chances remaining for a win are probably at Vanderbilt, at Ball State, and possibly Northern Illinois on the day after Thanksgiving.
5) Rank the MAC Teams: 1 to 13.
4. Central Michigan
6. Western Michigan
7. Northern Illinois
9. Bowling Green
10. Kent State
12. Ball State