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[VIDEO] Dr. Steinbrecher Gives the State of the MAC #MACtion

Mid-American Conference Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher took some time at Media Day to speak on the State of the Conference. It wasn’t widely broadcast and wasn’t part of the ESPN3 coverage. That doesn’t mean it isn’t something you should watch. Once Dr. Jon gets done with the thank yous, the introductions, and the gladhanding (about the 2:30 mark) it’s actually not a bad way to spend 15 minutes or so. It gives some good perspective on where the conference has come from and more importantly, where the conference is headed. Of particular note is the heavy hand that Dr. Jon reigns with in regard to the shifting landscape of pay for play and the college football playoff. He also went all Ginger Hammer on coaches who may get caught cheating, stating they’d be fired and his one word Popovich-esque answer for whether the power five will break away. It’s worth your time.

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A Non-MAC Coach Weighs In on the MAC Media Poll

When the MAC media preseason poll was released today, I was quite vocal about how I thought the media as a whole had put the screws to the Cardinals. Voting Ball State third in the MAC West I wasn’t that fired up about. Voting Central Michigan first in the West twice? That’s where I draw a line. But perhaps I was overreacting. Obviously with my Cardinal colored glasses, sometimes I get a tree lost amidst the forest. Was that really all that bad?

We at the Pylon decided to reach out to a neutral third-party observer to ensure we were not inadequately fired up about these poll shenanigans at the hands of the dastardly MAC media conglomerate.

Coach Gundy, any thoughts on the MAC Media preseason poll released today?

That was sort of my thoughts as well. But let’s get a little more in depth. The most obvious thing that I thought was amiss was the fact that Central Michigan had two first place votes and the team immediately above them had none. That team happens to be Ball State. Any reason as to why a team that limped home to 6 wins, most of which came against the bottom of the barrel would get voted so high?

But are we wrong to get upset about our team again being overlooked and undervalued from those in the know? These are supposed to be the best and the brightest in the media that champion all the good things about college athletics. Right?

So I take it you’re not a fan of the media. Not even your local newspaper? I mean here, take a look at the latest edition of the Muncie Star Press and tell me what you think about that…

Well, not everything can be perfect. There are probably times when everyone makes mistakes. Thoughts on the myriad other ways to stay connected to Ball State athletics besides OverThePylon?

Can’t argue with that. So back to the MAC Media Poll, is there any explanation for the oddities of the poll? And not just the CMU thing. There’s the love for NIU with significant questions, some fliers taken on Akron, and a whole host of other things that just seem to defy explanation. Buffalo in 4th in the East? Come on. Any rationale?

That’s a bold accusation, Coach. Perhaps you could give us your opinion of some of the teams in the conference.

Toledo?

Bowling Green?

NIU?

Buffalo?

I’m noticing a pattern. We’ve been hard at the Pylon on WMU’s PJ Fleck. Between the dancing, the dj, and the boat oars, we’ve taken a fair share of jabs at Coach Fleck. Your thoughts on him?

I’m actually kind of shocked. Anything else to add before we let you go, Coach?

Vomit away.

How You Can Follow All the MACtion from MAC Media Day

MACWednesday marks the unofficial start to football season as MAC Media Day gets underway from Ford Field in Detroit. See, it’s cyclical because the MAC season ends there too. Oh MAC, you are a clever one.

The festivities are from 12-4 and that includes things like the commissioner’s address and time with every single coach and two players from each MAC squad. There are several ways to loop yourself into the MACtion, and this is what we would do if we were you and what we will do because we are us…

  • Broadcast radio coverage in Muncie is on Fox Sports Radio 102.9 FM or 1340 AM starts at 1 with voice of the Cardinals Joel Godett (the man who apparently needs no sleep as all he does is work) (which is incidentally the original chorus of the DJ Khalid song. Not nearly as catchy). You get 40 minutes of that until Reds coverage starts and then you have to flip over to…
  • BallStateSports.com will have your listen live links for when the radio becomes a Joey Votto lovefest. I would imagine they’ll have all of it, not just the preempted by baseball substance, so I’d check it out at 1.
  • For the Cardinals, Pete Lembo, Quake Edwards, and Ben Ingle will be the guests of record and they’ll be on throughout the program. Godett will also get a chance to sit down with various other players and coaches throughout the day from around the conference, including the MAC commissioner.
  • If you’re the Tweeting type, you should be following (if not already) @JoelGodett, @BallStateSports, and @BallStateFB. There will be opportunities to ask questions through Joel of the various people he talks to.
  • If you want to watch and not listen, and we all know how you like to watch, ESPN’s Michael Reghi and Dustin Fox will be interviewing players and coaches and previewing the upcoming season on ESPN3 today from 2-4 p.m. ET. You can catch all the action from your WatchESPN app, WatchESPN.com, or the ESPN3 hub on MAC-Sports.com.

So, you’ ve got about two and a half hours to accomplish something at the office before you mentally check out for the rest of the day to get yourself prepared for the fall football season. Plan accordingly.

MAC New Media Preseason Poll

MACI remember a time when the MAC New Media group was a small collection of blogs that all varied in degrees of frequency, professionalism, fan-voice, and ad bait. That was back in ’08 when we hung our shingle in the blogosphere, and the group of sites that covers the Mid American Conference has evolved, advanced, and evolved some more. Though some blogs have gone dark, others have sprung up, and Hustle Belt has been pushed to the forefront by the SBNation Death Star, the passion of the group hasn’t waned.

Tomorrow is MAC Media Day in Detroit. You’ll get to see what mainstream media thinks about the coming season of MAC football. But who better to get your information from than the group of people who follow these teams and this conference day in and day out. The great things about getting news and other goings on from blogs is that you’re hearing from someone who doesn’t have a myopic view of just one team, which also happens to be couched in between the local high school goings on, national sports stories, and all the other things that a mainstream journalist has to scramble for. So, the new media of the MAC thought it best to give you what you need, an unvarnished opinion about how the conference is going to shake out in the fall.

Our voters?

For the East…

  1. BG (6) 52 points
  2. Akron (1) 41 points
  3. Buffalo (1) 39 points
  4. Ohio 38 points
  5. Kent State 23 points
  6. Miami 19 points
  7. UMass 10 points

For the West…

  1. NIU (4) 42 points
  2. Toledo (2) 41 points
  3. Ball State (2) 33 points
  4. CMU 25 points
  5. WMU 15 points
  6. EMU 13 points

The group collective picked NIU as the MAC Championship winner, with Terry Bowden claiming Coach of the Year honors and BG QB Matt Johnson taking home Player of the Year.

My reply all response to the above when it hit my email for the group was “You are all high.” and I stand by that. My other thoughts outside of the aforementioned assumption that people are either inebriated, ignorant, or blissfully unaware (or a combination of all of the above):

  • It’s so good to see people expect to see a drop off after good QBs graduate, hence BSU landing in third in the West, 6th overall. What’s that? NIU is still ranked #1 in the west despite losing their All-Galaxy QB Jordan Lynch? Well that doesn’t seem very consistent, now does it?
  • Apparently the slurping of BG can now begin in earnest. Thank God! (That’s sarcasm)
  • This the last year for UMass in the MAC, so next year’s new media poll will have to pick a “zOMG WORST TEAM EVUR!!!!111″ to champion. I nominate Buffalo. Or Western Michigan.
  • My ballot was:
    • East: BG, Akron, Ohio, Kent State, Buffalo, Miami, UMass
    • West: BSU, Toledo, NIU, CMU, EMU, WMU
    • My MAC Champion was BSU, Coach of the Year was Pete Lembo, and Player of the Year was Jahwan Edwards

That screams “homer pick” and in theory you could be right given how mine shook out, but you would be wrong in practice, as I also shared my working theory for why I picked the way I picked. I’m of the belief that BSU behind the running prowess of Quake wins the West. That explains why they are tops in that division and why he would be my Player of the Year. I had BG as E1 because of Johnson, and had the Cardinals tossing their second thumping in a month on the Falcons in Detroit. Why Lembo you ask? Because apparently the people “in the know” think BSU is going to have a God awful season with a drop off like no other MAC team. I’d say if CPL can win the conference with those expectations, then he’s a shoe-in for Coach of the Year. The rest of my picks were a mixture of educated guesses and unadulterated hatred. Massholes and boat oars sunk to the bottom of both my divisions and the rest were just a toss-up.

So there you go, boys and girls. If I could walk these down from Mt. Cardinal on two stone tablets, I would, and frankly, given the heat and humidity I wouldn’t mind wearing a flowing robe. And nothing else. HEY O! But yeah, MAC media day is tomorrow, so get yourself ready for some more fun from your friends here at OTP.

BSU & Miami By the Numbers

By the Numbers200On Friday while masses of people slam themselves into each other at retail establishments to try and get a television that’s 5 percent lower on sale than usual, the Cardinals will be tucked safely in bed getting ready for their 1pm showdown against the 0-11 Miami Redhawks. It’s the definition of a trap game, as the Cards are attempting to position themselves for the best possible bowl and the Redhawks are simply trying to avoid the goose egg in the win column. They’ve already fired their coach, their last home game drew under 9,000 fans, and their starting quarterback suffered a knee injury on October 31 ending his season. Suffice to say, times in Oxford aren’t so fun right now.

The Cards come in at 9-2, looking to get to double digits and solidify their rightful place as the second best team in the MAC. That will matter come bowl season and invite time, especially if NIU crashes the BCS again. But bowls and placement within them are not the concern right now. Right now, the thrashing of the hot garbage pile from Oxford is the top priority. Let’s see what the numbers say…

 

BSU vs. Miami:
National Stat Rankings & Statistics
NCAA Stat BSU Miami
Scoring Offense 17th (38.7)
125th (9.4)
Rushing Offense 81st (154.3) 116th (98.3)
Passing Offense 13th (323.1) 120th (122.5)
Total Offense 21st (477.4) 125th (220.8)
Scoring Defense 58th (25.8) 102nd (33.9)
Rushing Defense 99th (199.1) 113th (230.9)
Passing Defense 76th (233.5) 96th (244.2)
Total Defense 97th (433.5) 111th (475.1)
Sacks 73rd (20.0) 112th (13.0)
Sacks Allowed 26th (14.0) 124th (45.0)
Turnover Margin 11th (+10) 63rd (+/- 0)
3rd Down Conv. % 40th (44.4%) 125th (23.0%)
Opp. 3rd Down Conv. % 73rd (40.2%) 120th (48.7%)
Red Zone Conv. % 18th (89.1%) 125th (61.1%)
Opp. Red Zone Conv. % 27th (76.5%) 29th (77.1%)
Punting 63rd (41.0) 7th (45.5)
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 7th (32.6) 15th (36.4)

So, that’s a beat down. Dead last (125th) in several categories, and only trumping the Cardinals in average yards per punt. And Lord knows Miami has had enough practice with their anemic offense this season. Games aren’t played on paper, but this is the most lopsided statistical advantage BSU has enjoyed all season long. It’s the season finale, Senior Day, and a blackout for the fans who show up. On paper, this shouldn’t be close and let’s all hope that transitions to on the field.

Updated MAC Championship Scenarios

MACThe games this week in the MAC for our midweek slate had significant impact to the Conference Championship race. In the East, Ohio is now out of contention following their loss to Bowling Green. Buffalo’s loss to Toledo made the Bulls’ road a bit tougher than it was, and has led to a play-in game for the MAC East title on Black Friday. That Rocket win also kept Toledo’s hopes for a MAC West title on life support, but the Rockets do have a feasible way in to Detroit, albeit a small one. The same could be said for BSU who will need help, and a considerable amount of it.

MAC East

    • Bowling Green:
      • Current Record: 7-3 (5-1)
      • Remaining Games: @EMU, @BUFF
      • MACC Bound If:
        • W @Buffalo
    • Buffalo:
      • Current Record: 7-3 (5-1)
      • Remaining Games: @MIA, BG
      • MACC Bound If:
        • W vs BG
    • Ohio:
      • Current Record: 6-4 (3-3)
      • Remaining Games: KENT, UMASS
      • MACC Bound If:
        • Not possible. Mathematically eliminated
    • Akron:
      • Current Record: 3-7 (2-4)
      • Remaining Games: @UMASS, TOL
      • MACC Bound If:
        • Not possible. Mathematically eliminated.
    • UMass:
      • Current Record: 1-8 (1-4)
      • Remaining Games: AKR, @CMU, @OHIO
      • MACC Bound If:
        • Not possible. Mathematically eliminated.
    • Kent State:
      • Current Record: 3-8 (2-5)
      • Remaining Games: @OHIO
      • MACC Bound If:
        • Not possible. Mathematically eliminated.
    • Miami:
      • Current Record: 0-10 (0-6)
      • Remaining Games: BUFF, @BSU
      • MACC Bound If:
        • Not possible. Mathematically eliminated.

MAC West

    • Northern Illinois:
      • Current Record: 10-0 (6-0)
      • Remaining Games: @TOL, WMU
      • MACC Bound If:
        • W @ Toledo -OR-
        • Tol L @ AKR and BSU L v MIA
        • L @ Toledo and W vs WMU and BSU W vs MIA: Tiebreaker ensues where cross over opponent record determines divisional champion
    • Ball State:
      • Current Record: 9-2 (6-1)
      • Remaining Games: MIA
      • MACC Bound If:
        • W vs MIA and NIU L @ TOL and NIU loss vs WMU
        • W vs MIA and NIU loss @TOL and TOL W @AKR: Tiebreaker ensues where cross over opponent record determines divisional champion
    • Toledo:
      • Current Record: 7-3 (5-1)
      • Remaining Games: NIU, @AKR
      • MACC Bound If:
        • W vs NIU and W @AKR and BSU loss vs MIA
        • W vs NIU and NIU W vs WMU and BSU W vs MIA: Tiebreaker ensues where cross over opponent record determines divisional champion
    • Central Michigan:
      • Current Record: 3-6 (2-3)
      • Remaining Games: @WMU, MASS, EMU
      • MACC Bound If:
        • Mathematically Eliminated
    • Eastern Michigan:
      • Current Record: 2-8 (1-5)
      • Remaining Games: BG, @CMU
      • MACC Bound If:
        • Mathematically Eliminated
    • Western Michigan:
      • Current Record: 1-9 (1-5)
      • Remaining Games: CMU, @NIU
      • MACC Bound If:
        • Mathematically Eliminated

So as you can see, the road to Detroit for the Cardinals is a tough one. With the current projections, Toledo would win the tiebreaker if NIU, BSU, and Toledo all finish with one loss. If BSU and one other opponent finishes with one loss, the tiebreaker is head to head record, and BSU wins out over only Toledo. So for the Cards to make it to Detroit they’ll need NIU to lose to both Toledo and Western Michigan. Toledo may give them problems but Western sucks something awful. What a strange twist of fate that I may have to actually root for PJ Fleck and the Broncos to close the season. Of course, all the speculating is a moot point if the Cards don’t come out and take care of business against Miami on the 29th. That’s 15 days away and there’s still a ton to play for like a potential division title and bowl placement.

MAC Championship Game Scenarios

MACIt certainly isn’t too soon to start wondering about the MAC Championship game and how certain teams can make it there. At the given time, six teams are still alive for their division, but after the next 48 hours, we’ll have a much cleaner picture about how the divisions shake out and who is still alive. Here’s where we stand now, before the Tuesday night Maction of Ohio @ Bowling Green and Buffalo @ Toledo and Wednesday night’s Game of the Year with NIU/Ball State:

MAC East

  • Buffalo:
    • Current Record: 7-2 (5-0)
    • Remaining Games: @TOL, @MIA, BG
    • MACC Bound If:
      • W vs BG -OR-
      • L vs BG, W @ Toledo, W @ Miami and BG loss to either Ohio or @EMU
      • L vs BG, W @ Toledo, L @ Miami and BG loss vs Ohio and BG win @ EMU and Ohio W vs Kent and Ohio W vs Umass – a tiebreaker ensues where the team whose crossover opponents had the higher win percentage goes to the MACC
      • L vs BG, L @ Toledo, W @ Miami and BG loss vs Ohio and BG win @ EMU and Ohio W vs Kent and Ohio W vs Umass – a tiebreaker ensues where the team whose crossover opponents had the higher win percentage goes to the MACC
  • Bowling Green:
    • Current Record: 6-3 (4-1)
    • Remaining Games: OHIO, @EMU, @BUFF
    • MACC Bound If:
      • W vs Buffalo, W vs Ohio, W @ EMU
      • W vs Buffalo, W vs Ohio or @ EMU and Buffalo loss to either @Toledo or @Miami
      • W vs Buffalo, L vs Ohio, W @ EMU and Ohio W vs Kent and Ohio W vs Umass and Buffalo loss to either @ Toledo or @ Miami – a tiebreaker ensues where the team whose crossover opponents had the higher win percentage goes to the MACC
  • Ohio:
    • Current Record: 6-3 (4-2)
    • Remaining Games: @BG, KENT, UMASS
    • MACC Bound If:
      • W @ BG, W vs Kent, W vs UMass and Buffalo loss @ Toledo and Buffalo loss @ Miami and Buffalo loss vs BG
      • W vs BG, W vs Kent, W vs. UMass and BG W vs Buffalo and BG W @ EMU and Buffalo loss to either @Toledo or @Miami – a tiebreaker ensues where the team whose crossover opponents had the higher win percentage goes to the MACC
  • Akron:
    • Current Record: 3-7 (2-4)
    • Remaining Games: @UMASS, TOL
    • MACC Bound If:
      • Not possible. Mathematically eliminated.
  • UMass:
    • Current Record: 1-8 (1-4)
    • Remaining Games: AKR, @CMU, @OHIO
    • MACC Bound If:
      • Not possible. Mathematically eliminated.
  • Kent State:
    • Current Record: 2-8 (1-5)
    • Remaining Games: MIA, @OHIO
    • MACC Bound If:
      • Not possible. Mathematically eliminated.
  • Miami:
    • Current Record: 0-9 (0-5)
    • Remaining Games: @KSU, BUFF, @BSU
    • MACC Bound If:
      • Not possible. Mathematically eliminated.

MAC West

  • Ball State:
    • Current Record: 9-1 (6-0)
    • Remaining Games: @NIU, MIA
    • MACC Bound If:
      • W @ NIU  -OR-
      • L @ NIU, W vs MIA and NIU losses against both @Toledo and WMU and Toledo loss against Buffalo or @Akron -OR-
      • L @ NIU, W vs. MIA and NIU loses against both @Toledo and WMU and Toledo wins against both Buffalo and @Akron – a tiebreaker ensues where the team whose crossover opponents had the higher win percentage goes to the MACC
  • Northern Illinois:
    • Current Record: 9-0 (5-0)
    • Remaining Games: BSU, @TOL, WMU
    • MACC Bound If:
      • W vs BSU, W @Toledo -OR-
      • L vs BSU, W @ Toledo, W vs WMU and BSU L vs MIA -OR-
      • W vs BSU, L @Toledo, W vs. WMU and BSU W vs. MIA and TOL W against both Buffalo and @Akron – a tiebreaker ensues where the team whose crossover opponents had the higher win percentage goes to the MACC
  • Toledo:
    • Current Record: 6-3 (4-1)
    • Remaining Games: BUFF, NIU, @AKR
    • MACC Bound If:
      • W vs BUFF, W vs NIU, W @AKR and NIU W vs BSU and BSU L vs MIA
      • W vs. BUFF, W vs NIU, W @AKR and NIU W vs BSU and BSU W vs MIA – a tiebreaker ensues where the team whose crossover opponents had the higher win percentage goes to the MACC
  • Central Michigan:
    • Current Record: 3-6 (2-3)
    • Remaining Games: @WMU, MASS, EMU
    • MACC Bound If:
      • Not possible. Mathematically eliminated
  • Eastern Michigan:
    • Current Record: 2-8 (1-5)
    • Remaining Games: BG, @CMU
    • MACC Bound If:
      • Not possible. Mathematically eliminated
  • Western Michigan:
    • Current Record: 1-9 (1-5)
    • Remaining Games: CMU, @NIU
    • MACC Bound If:
      • Not possible. Mathematically eliminated

As you can see, the “control your own destiny” group of NIU, Ball State, Buffalo, and BG are sitting in the driver’s seat at the moment. After Wednesday, either BSU or NIU will need some help to make it to Detroit. For Ohio and Toledo, they need help already and much of it relies on the outcome of tonight’s and tomorrow’s contests. Leave it to the MAC to make it interesting this late in the season.

BSU & NIU By the Numbers

By the Numbers200On Wednesday, the Cards travel to Dekalb for what amounts to a one-game playoff for the MAC West. A victory means the Cards are heading to Detroit for the MAC Championship and a loss means the Cards will need help from Toledo the following week to even make it to a tiebreak situation. Suffice to say, it’s big. Most fans of both programs had this game circled since the summer when the schedules were released as their ” Must Win” of the 2013 season. Now, it’s here.

Each team has had remarkable success this season, with NIU being undefeated at 9-0 and ranked 15th in the latest BCS standings. The Huskies are realistic BCS busters (as they were last season) but of course that all goes away with a loss on Wednesday. The similarities between the programs are numerous, but let’s see how the teams stack up on paper in this 2013 edition of the Battle for the Bronze Stalk!

BSU vs. NIU:
National Stat Rankings & Statistics
NCAA Stat BSU NIU
Scoring Offense 14th (39.9)
7th (44.2)
Rushing Offense 81st (152.7) 4th (312.7)
Passing Offense 16th (323.0) 66th (232.8)
Total Offense 24th (475.7) 5th (545.4)
Scoring Defense 48th (23.6) 53rd (25.0)
Rushing Defense 98th (197.5) 42nd (147.1)
Passing Defense 46th (222.4) 109th (271.6)
Total Defense 85th (419.9) 84th (418.7)
Sacks 54th (19.0) 16th (26.0)
Sacks Allowed 33rd (13.0) 2nd (5.0)
Turnover Margin 8th (+10) 10th (+9)
3rd Down Conv. % 44th (43.8%) 54th (41.8%)
Opp. 3rd Down Conv. % 65th (39.5%) 32nd (35.3%)
Red Zone Conv. % 27th (88.2%) 38th (86.8%)
Opp. Red Zone Conv. % 17th (72.4%) 115th (91.7%)
Punting 62nd (41.3) 69th (41.0)
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 6th (31.4) 99th (61.0)

I thought for sure BSU would trail this week’s by the numbers, but they in fact do not, with a 9-8 lead in the stat categories above. That’s as close as you can get though. The big things to note is this week is a battle of strength versus weakness in that NIU’s fantastic rushing offense is going against a not so great rush defense for the Cardinals. Same could be said for BSU’s passing attack versus NIU’s passing defense. NIU does have a marked advantage in sacks, so the offensive line for BSU and protecting Keith Wenning will be the difference maker. Both teams generate a tremendous amount of turnovers, and the game could very well hinge on one of those. The two most interesting stats for me are BSU advantages in the areas of opponent red zone scoring percentages and penalties. It is intangibles like those that make the difference for two evenly matched teams. If NIU is held to field goals rather than touchdowns in the red zone and who commits their usual 60 yards of penalties, it becomes much more likely for a BSU upset. Vegas sees NIU as a 6 point favorite, with a 69 point over/under, and it’s hard for me to take issue with either of those numbers.

The Reaper Cometh for Ron English, Lesson for Coaches

The fall from hot up and comer to unemployed was lightning fast for Ron English (Angela J. Cesere | AnnArbor.com)

The fall from hot up and comer to unemployed was lightning fast for Ron English (Angela J. Cesere | AnnArbor.com)

I was lying in bed last night trying to come up with possible BCS AQ schools that were going to have an opening at the end of this season in part to sort of get a jump on potential destinations for hot young coaches who may be making the leap at the end of this season. No reason for that. Just, you know, thinking about what ifs. Just in case.

There were a rash of mid-season firings (Lane Kiffin, Paul Pasqualoni, and Don Treadwell) but the grim reaper of coaches has been fairly sated over the last few weeks. Logically, it would make sense at this point to just wait, rather than throw a team into disarray with only a few weeks left of a season. I’d like to think the players and staff of a team, though the inevitable decision looms, would like to finish the year with those around them no matter the circumstances. Eastern Michigan apparently thinks differently, and announced today that Ron English has been relieved of his coaching duties effective immediately.

Ron English had such promise when he was announced as the new top dog at the football wasteland that is Ypsilanti, despite the lack of facilities, a pitiful fan following, and a fairly bare cupboard after Jeff Genyk. But the demise of EMU wasn’t just a Genyk issue. The Eagles had a long history of painful underperformance, having not gone to a bowl game since the 1987 California Bowl and not finishing better than 3rd in the division over that same time period. That bowl trip was when they were the EMU Hurons.

Maybe it was the name change to Eagles that made the last 25 years or so that bad. Maybe it was the large shadow cast by neighbors Michigan, Michigan State, and to some degree, Grand Valley State. I’m sure the ebb and flow of the successful MAC programs like Toledo, BG, Ball State, NIU, Ohio, etc. certainly didn’t help matters. But when Ron English took the reigns in December of 2008, I (like a lot of other people) thought it was only a matter of time until the Eagles did their rotation as a good MAC program like everyone else. Boy, were we all fooled.

On paper, English seemed like just the kind of coach the Eagles would need to be successful. His pedigree was a strong one, he was the mythical “Michigan Man”, strong jaw and gravel voice, the kind of coach you felt like players would run through a brick wall for and ask for seconds because his toughness, grit, and resolve would naturally trickle down to them. And to some degree, that was the case.

EMU was never an easy win. His players always seemed to play hard. The smashmouth style that English seemed to employ was a throwback to yesteryear and a tried and true formula for decades of success in the Big Ten’s hallowed halls. The first two years were a disaster, 2-22 overall and 2-14 in the MAC. But fans, MAC lovers, and football aficionados wrote it off as the remnants of decades of failure. Once English got his players in place, his system established, his recruiting humming, it was only a matter of time. And in 2011, that seemed to be coming true.

Picked to finish last in the preseason poll, because… Eastern Michigan, English led the Eagles to a .500 record overall and a .500 record in conference. They were respectable in all their losses, including in Ann Arbor. They also beat in-state Western and Central. They played conference champion NIU within a touchdown at Dekalb on national television to close the season, their 4th appearance of the year on tv. Things were looking up for EMU, but it was fool’s gold. An opportunity lost for English and a return to irrelevance for a program that has had to endure more than their fair share of it. They were 6-4 in need of one more win to lock them into a bowl. Then they lost 20 of 23.

The epitaph of the Ron English story is one all coaches, especially ones at mid-majors with struggling budgets, tepid fan support, and institutional barriers to success would do well to familiarize themselves with. At the conclusion of 2011, English was linked to several higher profile jobs like Illinois, Arizona State, and Washington State. He had gone .500 at EMU of all places and his stock was high. Unlike Brady Hoke, English didn’t jump when an opportunity presented itself. He even turned down an extension at EMU, presumably waiting for that perfect opportunity. And now, two years later, he’s unemployed.

In perhaps the greatest irony, or the most tragic one depending on how you look at it, is that English’s replacement at EMU to close out the 2013 season is former Ball State head coach Stan Parrish, one of the forefathers of the evolution of the MAC to a spread, uptempo, point scoring bonanza that coined MACtion and rendered the old school style boring at best, unsuccessful and uncompetitive at worst.

Ron English will be fine. His experience and non-EMU results will land him a coordinator job and opportunity to hit the reset button on a career that may very well be successful going forward under the right circumstances. But as is often the case when coaches are removed, the real losers aren’t the coaches, the fans screaming for it, or even the program itself. It’s the student-athletes, assistant coaches, and support staff that have already endured more in this season with the murder of one of their own than anyone should have to.

It’s a shame all around, but it underscores the moral of the story for coaches. Strike while the iron is hot, gentlemen, because the fall from the top to the bottom can often times be clocked with an egg timer.

Initial Thoughts on CMU

logo200That was a beat down. A healthy, exciting, crowd satisfying beat down. The Cards put a thrashing on the Central Michigan Chips to the tune of 44-24, thanks largely to Keith Wenning playing like a grown assed man. He failed to hit 300 yards for the second consecutive week, but he came as close as possible, going for 299 on 20-29 passing with 4 TDs. Snead had 118 yards and 2 TDs in what has become a ho-hum stat line and Horactio Banks added 143 yards on 11 carries with a score. OTP favorite Jordan Williams only had one catch but it was an 8-yard TD so that’s pretty slick.

It really was never close. With 13 minutes to go in the 2nd quarter it was 21-0 and the slow starting Cardinals seemed to have said enough is enough for the slowness. The final score isn’t quite indicative of the difference between the two squads, as by the end of the third it was 41-10, and it became clear that CMU was still trying to scrap for scores while BSU had lost a bit of their intensity. The good news is it didn’t matter, and when you can drop a 20-point win on a conference opponent, that’s a good night.

The bad for tonight was the injury to Quake Edwards and as of this writing, I have no other news about that. Hopefully by tomorrow I’ll have something to pass on. The attendance was abysmal, but frankly, with a windy cold night in Muncie, I can’t blame anyone for staying home. Make up for it by coming out to Miami on Black Friday.

What is there to take away from this? Not much. It was a blowout win against an inferior opponent that needed to happen. After a hiccup against Kent, I was curious if this team was capable of putting their foot on the gas and not letting up and this showed that they are. And oh by the way, no matter what happens the next two games the Cardinals have 9 wins this season and are virtually locked into a bowl I would think. All good things from a big win.

On a brief little site note, a big thanks to everyone who tweeted, emailed, and texted to let us know we got a namedrop on the ESPN2 broadcast. It was a backhanded compliment for the program, but any publicity is good publicity. All of us associated with this site don’t do it for that kind of stuff, and really only do it for a love of Cardinal athletics, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little cool. So thanks to all of you for sharing it with us. We’ll have the Final Word up tomorrow, but for now, it’s savoring this win, the 9th of the season, and readying ourselves for an EPIC contest against OUR MOST HATED RIVAL  NIU one week from tonight.

Go Cards and goodnight!

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