Thursday, August 22, 2013

Buy, Pass, Sell: MAC Edition

The MAC may be one of the most stable conferences in the country, having only had three changes in the last decade involving two programs (added and then lost Temple, added UMass). There has been slow and steady development capped by a major appearance by Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl last season, a spot that Kent State nearly grabbed. Kent State was one of the worst programs in the country for decades. Almost half of the programs in the MAC can be looked at as quality programs now, with a couple more who could be with some effort, and that was never the case before.


Ohio: With Mickey Tettleton back at QB along with RB Beau Blankenship to lead an offense that returns 7 starters overall, Ohio will be better than people are giving them credit for. Frank Solich has done a fine job in Athens, and the Bobcat program is running on a high. The defense is in a state of flux in the front 7, but when your offense scores 31.7 points per game like they did last fall, that may not be so much of an issue.

Northern Illinois: Do I really need to say anything other than mention QB Jordan Lynch? I do? Ok...Rod Carey was promoted to replace the departed Dave Doeren at head coach, and he has a loaded platter heading into 2013. There are stars on defense in DT Ken Bishop and DE Joe Windsor as well. Mark my words, as the Huskies could have two wins over Big 10 teams by the end of September (Iowa and Purdue, both on the road).
Toledo: If Toledo didn't have Northern Illinois with them in the MAC West, they would be cleaning up titles. Terrence Owens will be the sole QB this season, and he is a good one. David Fluellen is one of the more underrated RBs in the MAC. The defense has to replace 8 starters, but this program has really bounced back in the last few years, and Matt Campbell is a rising star of a head coach.


Bowling Green: Many feel like the Falcons could win the East this season, but I am not entirely onboard with that assessment. Matt Schilz is solid at QB, but doesn't always make the best decisions, with a low completion ratio. I could be buying at the end of September, but I don't see more than 6 wins total right now. I think the Falcons could be in for a let down.

Kent State: The surprise of 2012, the Golden Flashes may be due to slip a little this season as they have to replace both QB Spencer Keith and Head Coach Darrell Hazell, who left for Purdue. Paul Haynes takes over as coach, and he is a Kent State man to his core, and understands what it took to get the program where it is now. He has the respect and the passion for the school that will be necessary to keep Kent State headed in the right direction towards a conference title that they have not won since 1972. Dri Archer will be the most entertaining player to watch in this conference next to Jordan Lynch at NIU.

Ball State: Pete Lembo has done a solid job for the Cardinals. The Keith Wenning to Willie Snead pass catch combo should be fun to watch, and the Cardinals have a solid RB in Jahwan Edwards. The line has 4 starters coming back. The problem is a defense that gave up big plays and got pushed around fairly regularly. If the defense can shore up, I could definitely see myself buying in after the first month.


Buffalo: Turner Gill took the Bulls to a bowl game once, and the Bulls have never returned under Jeff Quinn. I don't see that changing this season, and I am not a believer in Quinn.

Miami (Ohio): The Red Hawks (still want to call them the Redskins) have fallen on some hard tomes as of late, and Don Treadwell has won only 8 games heading into his 3rd season as head coach. With just our MAC home games and a defense that runs in circles most days, Miami will likely play with clipped wings in 2013.

UMass: It is year two of the ill-advised move to FBS football for the Minutemen, who play home games 90 minutes from campus at cavernous Gillette Stadium. Charlie Molnar is trying to win at a place that was passable to average as an FCS football program before joining the upper division. It's not going to get much better this fall.

Akron: Terry Bowden may be the coach, but I don't care if it were Bobby Bowden. This program is a mess, and progress comes in small countable ways. Look for another dark season in LeBron's back yard.
Central Michigan: Dan Enos has not been able to get the Chippewas anywhere near where prior coaches had taken them. It's not heading there in 2013 either. With just 13 wins heading into the 4th season of Enos' tenure, there is a huge amount of pressure to win now. That pressure will be met with a resounding thud.

Western Michigan: The Bronco administration gave Bill Cubit two years too many, and the program has suffered due to that decision. Cubit should have been let go two years ago, and all of that loyalty failed to pay off with keeping the Broncos relevant in the MAC. PJ Fleck arrives as the new head coach, and has never been a head coach before. He certainly has his work cut out.

Eastern Michigan: In 2011, Ron English looked like he was turning this program around. In 2012 it was back to the same old crap. English has to please a brand new AD, and we know how that usually works out. This is an easy sell.

Coming up next: Buy, Pass, Sell Mountain West Edition

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