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MAC Blogger Roundtable Results

A few years ago, it became apparent that there were some quality sites out there representing the MAC in terms of their blogging chops, so what better way to bring everyone together than through a roundtable of sorts. A virtual one, for sure, as I’m not quite positive I’d want some of these folks in my home, but a roundtable all the same. Some members have come and gone, the leadership and organizational responsibilities have shifted, but it’s back this year in all its glorious wonder. This week’s question poser was us, so clearly, the Q’s are going to rock. Fortunately for you, the A’s did as well.

Our participants this week:

Eagle Totem: Eastern Michigan (ET)

Falcon Blog: Bowling Green (FB)

Let’s Go Rockets: Toledo (LGR)

Temple Football Forever: Temple (TFF)

The Chip Report: Central Michigan (TCR)

Bull Run: Buffalo (BR)

1.) Now that the nonconference has wrapped up for most everyone and we turn our eyes toward conference play, what did the nonconference season teach you? More importantly, what teams do you see as frontrunners thanks to their nonconference play? Any surprises?
The majority of the MAC blogs voiced some form of the opinion that the MAC isn’t quite ready for primetime since there were no immensely shocking results. On the flip side, there were no devastating FCS losses which hasn’t been the case in recent years.

ET: No one really closed the deal in non-conference play. Ohio had no trouble against lesser teams and played impressively against their rival, Marshall, but couldn’t get it done against Rutgers. Bowling Green couldn’t close the deal against Wyoming and was blown out at West Virginia. Northern Illinois, frankly, looked bad against Kansas, Wisconsin, and Cal Poly. Wisconsin I can understand — look at what the just did to Nebraska — but a team that thinks they’re a MAC contender can’t go giving up 30 points to a team like Cal Poly. Toledo let penalties get in the way of what could have been a huge upset win at Ohio State, and then a blown call by the refs and replay officials cost them the game at Syracuse. Western Michigan came up just short at Illinois. Temple came up just short at Penn State.

FB: I think the nonconference season did reveal a couple of things. First, speaking for the Falcons, we are a little better than I thought we might be and our young team is showing that we are positioned well for the future. I am hopeful for a couple upsets moving forward. Clearly, based on the schedule to date, UT has emerged as the conference favorite. Also, WMU looks very strong. NIU can’t stop anybody. Ball State is on their way back…and Akron is still lousy. The MAC still have a tough time against BCS teams.

LGR: The non conference portion of Toledo’s schedule taught us that playing against good teams can really set up some injuries to key players. Losing some key players in games early on really can affect a season. Though the Rockets lost to 3 non conference opponents, they really should have won the OSU and Syracuse games (see officials being reprimanded and blown XP’s). Going in to Temple last week and dominating the Owls really showed that the Rockets are the frontrunner to win the MAC.

TFF: The surprise to me is Western Michigan. Bill Cubit does a great job there. Losing at Illinois by a field goal and winning at UConn were eye-openers in addition to a 44-14 clocking of Central Michigan. WMU is going to be in the race to the end, as is Toledo. Ohio beat Marshall, 44-7, but was able to only beat Kent State by 17-10 so I think the East is wide open.

TCR: The non-conference season has taught us a few different things about the Chips. The first thing is that they need consistent play from their quarterbacks to be competitive. When the Chips played South Carolina State and Kentucky Ryan Radcliff played pretty well and the Chips were in the games but against Michigan State, he played terrible and the Chips got blown out.

The teams who are the front-runners in the MAC right now are Ohio and Western Michigan. Some teams who might surprise this season in my opinion are Toledo and Eastern Michigan. Eastern Michigan hasn’t had a very tough schedule so the game this weekend against Toledo is a big one for them. Toledo has looked very good against some good competition and had a tough loss against Syracuse.

BR: Nonconference play taught me that you should never count your chickens until they are hatched. After week one many thought this looked like a potential ‘up’ year for the conference. While it’s nice to see no MAC team lost to an FCS school what did we learn, really?

Maryland was overrated, Wisconsin was not?

I suppose I still see Temple as a frontrunner in the East as they had easily the most respectable out of conference showing. In the west we learned that NIU might be the third best team behind Toledo and WMU. Perhaps we should also tip our hat To Lembo who has done some good things with the Cards.

2.) It’s obviously early to be thinking about bowls, but what teams do you see going bowling? More importantly, will there be a MAC team that will surprise folks come bowl season? Where do you hope your team ends up bowling?
Ohio and Western Michigan were near consensus picks, with a smattering of Temple, Toledo, and BG thrown in for good measure here and there. Most answers had an undertone of “these teams are good and some teams could be good if things go right” which really has been the story of the MAC the last few seasons. Truthfully, and consider me biased, whoever wins the Temple-BSU showdown tomorrow is the frontrunner for a bowl bid from the MAC West and makes the winner’s contest with WMU a defacto MAC West Championship most likely.

ET: Right now, I’m expecting it to be Ohio, Bowling Green, Western Michigan, and Toledo. Possibly Temple, Northern Illinois, or Ball State as a fifth team. The biggest surprise on that list would be Ball State, who I figured would improve, but not quite so much. Western Michigan, Bowling Green, and Temple, I had originally figured to barely miss the bowl cut.

Where do I hope EMU ends up bowling? I don’t expect them to make a bowl game, or even to be bowl-eligible (which will require a 7-5 finish, since only one FCS win counts)

FB: Well, for the Falcons, I would be happy for any bowl assignment at all after 2-10 last season. At the beginning of the year I thought 6-6 would be an accomplishment and I still think that. I don’t think that MAC bowl teams will be too big surprise…think UT, OU, WMU, NIU and Temple.

LGR: The MAC teams that should go bowling are Ohio, Western Michigan, Toledo, and Temple. We don’t care where the Rockets play (probably Little Caesars Pizza bowl) as long as they win.

TFF: Western Michigan, Toledo and Temple. I hope my team goes bowling in a place not named Detroit or Boise

TCR: Western Michigan, Toledo and Ohio will definitely be bowling this season. If a few other MAC teams do a lot of winning within in the conference they could be bowling as well. Western Michigan could surprise some teams in the bowl season, they have already beaten a power conference team in UCONN, and have had other close calls at Michigan and at Illinois. The Chips could end up in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl with some key MAC wins but I don’t think they are good enough to compete for the MAC championship this season but if they get to this bowl game and win it I feel like the season will be considered a success.

BR: In the east you have to give a nod to Ohio at 4-1. They might be playing the little sisters of the poor but four wins gets them two thirds of the way towards eligibility and the still have Buffalo, Akron, and Miami to play. Temple with three wins, a close loss to PSU, and some cupcakes left on the schedule should have little issue getting to seven or more wins.

WMU gets a sweet cross division draw with Akron and Miami. They also still have EMU so a minimum of six wins for them. NIU, Ball State, and Toledo are the only contenders in the west (aside from WMU). Whoever does the most clobbering among that group will join WMU as the fourth bowl team.

Buffalo needs a miracle, neigh a series of miracles to make seven wins.

3.) Again, it’s early, but are there any coaches on the hotseat that should be working their resume? Any MAC coaches you see moving on to greener pastures come season’s end?
The dominant theme, which I happen to agree with is that most all of the MAC head coaching roster is too new to fire regardless of results, but an unsuccessful year for Ron English, Jeff Quinn, or Rob Ianello could put them square in the crosshairs to begin next season when the “newness” will be less of an excuse. As for the flip side of that coin, Cubit and Beckman were the choices, but most were lukewarm at best at that actually happening for very different reasons. There seems to be a groundswell of institutional support in Toledo to build a winner and they may be willing to pony up the dough to keep him.

ET: I don’t think any MAC coaches are truly on the hot seat this year. There was the potential for things to get ugly for Ron English if EMU lost to one or both of the FCS teams, or failed to win any FBS games, but both those hurdles are out of the way. Rob Ianello and Jeff Quinn could end the season on the hot seat for 2012. As for coaches getting hired away, Tim Beckman seems like he should be the top target, but I get the feeling Toledo really wants to build a successful football program, and they may be willing to pay to keep Beckman in town for a while. Bill Cubit could also be a target, especially if Western Michigan continues to play this well.

FB: Well, so many coaches in the MAC are new that it is hard to imagine anyone getting the boot. I always wonder about Cubit, but he seems to have put things together. This could be a year when everyone is back. I’d say that Enos is the most on the hot seat, and even him I can’t see them firing. As for moving up, that could be anyone. Mike Haywood was selected to move up after one season. I’m sure people are talking Beckman, who will have opportunities.

LGR: With the recent coaching changes across the league, we don’t feel that anyone is in the hot seat this year nor will anyone move on to greener pastures. At some point, someone is going to start calling Tim Beckman at Toledo, just not this year.

TFF: I would think an Akron coach is wishing he was back as a BCS assistant. I don’t see why Cubit never got a chance at a BCS program.

TCR: There isn’t a that should be worried about the hot seat right now, but if Eastern Michigan doesn’t have a good conference season than Ron English might find himself on the hot seat. It would be his third season in which he hasn’t done well within the conference and it might show that it is time for a change in Ypsilanti.

BR: I would love to say Jeff Quinn but UB can’t afford to fire him. Ron English might be if the Eagles are restricted to beating FCS teams and Akron.

But aside from that who do you go after? Clawson and Beckman are doing well. Solich will be at OU for the rest of his career and everyone else is too new to fire.

4.) With all the talk of conference expansion and the assumption that WVU or Missou is the next to switch conferences, what do you see happening to the MAC? Any teams leaving? Where to? If teams vacate, how should the MAC respond?
The majority of blogs believe that the MAC won’t be losing anyone with the recent assumed crumbling of the Big East and the potential for Temple to not really have anywhere to go. If a team was to leave, most think it would be Temple, especially since they’re football only. As for additions, should a team leave, some thought we would stay at 12 teams and finally be balanced, others thought we’d reach out to FCS or lower level FBS teams. My favorite answer comes from Eagle Totem who mentions Louisville as a possible MAC addition, which would make me infinitely tingly in my Kentucky fan gigglebits.

ET: I don’t think any MAC teams will get picked off by other conferences. The only real possibilities are the football-only schools, Temple and Massachusetts. UMass is unlikely since they’re just entering FBS play, while Temple first needs to make their case on the field. As for teams joining the MAC, I can imagine that if the Big XII collapses, Iowa State might wind up in the MAC. Louisville has been mentioned some, but they’re just a few years past having a top-ten football team, and some conference will take them on the strength of their basketball program. Other than Iowa State, I think any MAC additions are likely to come from FCS or Division II.

FB: Well, it is my feeling that Temple will go back to the Big East. They will get the invite and go. I also believe that this will put UMASS in doubt, though I imagine they would be a little ways from picking up the kind of steam it would take for a major bid. I don’t see any other MAC teams coming up. In general, these moves are designed to create a final set of major conferences, cut the smaller schools out of the money and then we get a playoff. Others have talked about merging the MAC with C-USA or the Sun belt. I don’t see what C-USA gets out of a merger like that, and I don’t see what the MAC gets merging with the Sun Belt.

LGR: Right now, no one is going to leave the MAC. The next great thing now are the formations of the super conferences. No one in the MAC can compete with those teams week in and week out. If the MAC loses someone, it’ll be to C-USA who would be trying to replace a team that left their conference. Marshall could always come back to the MAC. We enjoy watching them lose.

TFF: I think the MAC should lock up the teams within its footprint, like Memphis and Marshall. UMass is just not going to work out, playing games in a pro stadium 100 miles away from the main campus. Temple plays in a pro stadium, but only four miles away from the main campus.

TCR: I don’t think much is going to happen with the MAC in terms of conference expansion. If I could see one MAC team leaving it would be Temple to go play in the Big East. This is a logical move in my opinion because Temple already doesn’t play in the MAC for basketball and this would allow them to move all their sports to one conference. This also makes sense geographically they are a lot farther east than any other MAC school. I also think this move could happen because the Big East is losing a lot of teams and Temple has good football and basketball programs. If a team was to leave I don’t think that the MAC would be looking to add another school. They have uneven amount of teams in each division right now and if one-team leaves they would have even divisions.

BR: When TCU jilted the Big East it created a real chance that the football entity known as the Big East will not longer exist. There is almost no way that the holdovers can mathematically retain the conferences AQ status and the Big 12 is still looking to grow a bit more.

The one team most likely to leave, Temple, may get the call up *if* the basketball schools decide to preserve an FBS football presence. Otherwise I don’t see the MAC losing anyone.

5.) While football is a team game, sometimes it’s about individual efforts. Who has had the most impact individually for your squad? Sort of the same line of thinking, but contingent on your own needs and roster, what other MAC player would you like to switch out for one of your own?
Chandler Harnish and Bernard Pierce were on most everyone’s wish list, along with some random single wishes thrown in for other guys. And some blogs decided not to pick anyone because they don’t want to downgrade anyone on their roster. Classy, those MAC blogs!

ET: It’s hard to pinpoint an individual standout for EMU. The strength of this team so far has been the offensive line: all seven players who have started. Bridger Buche is probably the best on that squad right now, or at least he was prior to his injury, but the entire squad deserves a lot of credit for their great run-blocking for all the ball carriers. As Ron English remarked, “You would love to run behind that line.”

As for switching out for a different MAC player, I’d take either Alex Carder or Chandler Harnish. Having a quarterback with the ability to consistently deliver the ball accurately in a way that allows receivers to make a play after the catch would be huge. I’m fine with EMU’s run-first offense, but from time to time they do need to throw the ball, and it would be nice to have a passer on the field who could reliably get that job done.

FB: There have been a number. True freshman Anthon Samuel has had 3 100 yard games and a game changer in Oxford. Eugene Cooper is having a big year and Matt Schilz is much improved. On defense, Dwayne Woods is as good as any MLB in the conference.

As for a player I switch out, I never want to denigrate one of our guys. Certainly, it would be great to have Matt Weller and know you could kick a freaking FG…and maybe a D-back like Kent’s Norman Wolfe would have fit in.

LGR: Though he needs someone to throw him the ball, Eric Page has had the biggest impact for the Rockets. He’s caught TD passes, thrown TD passes, converted 2 point conversions… he’s done everything shy of kicking FG’s (and he did that in high school). He’s a complete all around offensive player. Just being on the field as a threat helps spread this offense. He should set the all time Toledo receptions record this week against EMU (and he’s only a Junior).

Toledo has had several key injuries this season, especially on the defense. Losing Molls and Singer were big blows early on, but we have been pleasantly surprised with other guys stepping in and playing very well. Starting RB Adonis Thomas broke his arm against Syracuse, but Toledo just rolled out 2 additional backs in Fluellen and Williams and the Rockets offense has not slowed one bit.

TFF: I’ll take the Miami quarterback, Zac Dysert, for a player to be named later.

TCR: The player that has the greatest impact on the Chips is quarterback Ryan Radcliff. When Radcliff is playing well the Chips look good and are competitive with most teams, but when he plays bad the Chips usually get rolled.

The player I’d most like to poach is Temple running back, Bernard Pierce. The Chips have not fared well in the running game this season and the Zurlon Tipton injury doesn’t help. When the Chips have a running game going, they are a totally different team as they showed this weekend against Northern Illinois when they had 176 yards rushing in a victory. The addition of Pierce to the Chips would greatly improve the offense by bringing it more balance and taking some of the pressure off Radcliff.

BR: Right now I would say Lee Skinner has done the most to improve our defense. He came in as a preferred walk on and had to take over the starting spot because of an injury. He has been a steady force in the middle and while I don’t think he is the best player on our defense he is certainly the one who has went above and beyond more so than any other this season

What player would I take? It’s a toss up between Bernard Pierce and Chandler Harnish. Why? Well its no because Anderson is awful or because Branden Oliver is not doing his part but those guys are about the best in the conference at owning a game all by .

6.) Power poll time, baby. First to worst… rank ’em
The official power poll totals:
1.) Toledo (4)
2.) WMU (1)
3.) Ohio (1)
4.) Temple
5.) Bowling Green
6.) NIU
7.) Central Michigan
8.) Ball State
9.) Eastern Michigan
10.) Buffalo
11.) Miami
12.) Kent
13.)  Akron

Want to see how everyone voted? Of course you do.

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One Response

  1. […] Blogger Roundtable this week, and they did an excellent job of providing quality MAC coverage.  Read it if you care about the MAC.  In fact, they did such an excellent job, that I imported their chart for this week’s Power […]

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