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2011 MAC Blogger Roundtable, week 12

November 17, 2011

This week’s MAC Blogger Roundtable is hosted by Mike Trumbell of The Chip Report, who stepped in and stepped up to fill the void left with the end of Fire Up Chips. (If you’re keeping count, yes, I skipped last week’s roundtable; that’s what sometimes happens when two major sport seasons overlap.)

1) CMU’s head coach, Dan Enos, complained about his team’s schedule and playing 3 conference games in 12 days. Give your opinions on why lopsided MAC scheduling continues to happen.

I wouldn’t like having 3 in 12, but it’s not completely unreasonable; I think 3 in 13 (Saturday, Saturday, Thursday) happens fairly regularly in college football.

2) Do these basketball scores Toledo and NIU have been putting up reflect positively or negatively on the MAC?

For my part, I like to see a good defensive game, so I don’t care for these 120+ point monstrosities. However, I do recognize that fans in general, and perhaps especially casual fans, like to see a high-scoring game. If the goal is to try to build the audience for the MAC, those games certainly get plenty of national attention, and after several weeks of that, have probably started drawing in some casual fans.

3) What are your thoughts on the weekday ESPN MAC schedule? Does TV exposure outweigh attendance?

Grumble grumble. College football should only be played on Saturday afternoon. These teams have more costume changes than a Lady Gaga concert. The new uniforms are ugly. The forward pass is an abomination; bring back the flying wedge. Grumble grumble.

I’m not completely sold on the early-week (Tuesday and Wednesday) games, but I’m all for Thursday night games. One of the issues EMU has — probably other MAC schools as well — is that it’s largely a commuter campus, with most students living off-campus (sometimes far off campus) and/or going home on weekends. Seriously, campus is dead on weekends. Playing a few weeknight games can help counter the commuter campus issue and also create a different atmosphere at the game. That said, I don’t think any team should play more than one or two such games. Northern Illinois, I’m looking at you.

One item that’s come up on an EMU discussion board is that, since the cameras are in the press box and fans tend to sit on that side, the cameras often point to the emptier side of the stadium. I think it would make some sense to at least put one camera on the far side to actually show the side that fans sit on instead of a sea of empty seats.

4) What play has made the biggest difference (positive or negative) in your respective team’s season?

In the end, what matters is wins and losses, so the play that makes the biggest difference is the play that changed the outcome of a game — preferably a key game.

EMU has had five games that were decided by seven points or less each: Alabama State, Akron, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, and Ball State. The play that made the biggest negative difference is the play that could have turned a loss into a win; since only one of those games was a loss, we have to look at the Ball State game for that. After the game I detailed 10 missed opportunities, but the biggest was probably #9:

First down inside the one-yard-line...EMU settled for a field goal.

Missed opportunity #9: Taking over with 6:52 left in the game, EMU zipped down the field, gaining 56 yards on four carries by Gillett and two by Sherrer, bringing the Eagles to a first down on the Ball State 12. After three more carries, EMU had a first-and-goal inside the one-yard line. Altogether, five shots from inside the 10-yard-line failed to get EMU in the end zone and the Eagles were forced to settle for a field goal with 1:18 remaining. I don’t fault Ron English for taking the field goal on fourth down; if they had gone for it and failed to score the game would have been over there, while the field goal gave them a chance to win, if the EMU defense could hold, but I’m a bit befuddled as to how a team averaging 4.8 yards per carry for the game and 4.91 for the season could fail to gain a single yard on three tries. This reminded me of EMU’s failed goal-line conversions at Michigan also. I’m not sure whether to blame the play-calling or if it has to do with the way the players are being coached, but it is clear that EMU is doing something wrong in these situations.

As for plays that made a positive difference, the biggest are probably Alex Gillett’s touchdown run at Central Michigan and the defense’s goal-line stand against Western Michigan.

5) Rank ’em

1. Toledo
2. Northern Illinois
3. Ohio
4. Temple
5. EMU
6. Western Michigan
7. Ball State
8. Kent State
9. Miami
10. Bowling Green
11. Buffalo
12. Central Michigan
13. Akron

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mark H. permalink
    November 20, 2011 5:06 am

    I’m intrigued by your observation that Thursday night games might attract commuter students. Other than a wish and a hope, is there anything at all to base this on? I mean, is there any indication that hundreds of commuter students would like to attend games but don’t because the games are on Saturday? Or that one Thursday home game a season would be compelling to commuters? Thanks!

    • November 21, 2011 6:04 am

      Mark, that’s a fair question. My idea was partly to suggest (and I don’t think I was clear on this) that a weeknight game might attact different people who don’t normally go to a weekend game. Some of those people might have fun and come back. It’s not necessarily that it’s a bigger audience, but that it could be a different audience.

      The second aspect of it is that I don’t think EMU has tried it (I’ll have to check records, which will take a while) and certainly hasn’t tried it recently. So there’s an element of throwing a bunch of stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. Maybe it won’t work (though I doubt attendance would be significantly lower than this year’s weekend games), but maybe it will. We don’t know until/unless EMU tries.

      The third aspect is that, based on personal observation, there are people on campus during the week and not on weekends. So a weeknight game would really target (and again, I don’t think I worded this well), not the daily commuters, but the students who leave town every weekend, of which I think (no data) there are many.

  2. November 21, 2011 8:48 am

    I don’t know if they’ve played a Weeknight game at Rynearson, I know they’ve played them when they visit other teams. If I remember correctly, one of the Torpedo Toledo games from my day was a on Thursday night. They made kind of a big deal about it too because it was going to be on ESPN. So they put together a trip to go to Toledo. I didn’t do that one but I did do a couple of the other trips while I was a student.

    they could go back to giving away cars and stuff…:)

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