The 2011 season was good year for the MAC, but 2012 has been incredible.
Friday night, two MAC teams will battle it out ranked in the top 21 of the BCS standings. Ironically, they are the two MAC schools that squeaked by Ball State this season.
For the conference it is a huge moment. If Kent State wins there is a chance the Flashes could move up high enough in the rankings to score a BCS bid.
Just think how both Kent State and Northern Illinois should be undefeated.
All NIU had to do was take down Iowa on a neutral field. The same Iowa team that lost at home to the 4th best MAC West team in Central Michigan. The Huskies could not get it done.
All Kent State had to do was beat a 2-10 Kentucky team. Granted, Kentucky was healthy in that game before the injury mafia moved in on every good player they had including their quarterback. Yeah I’m not bitter about that or anything.
For Ball State fans it is humbling that the year where the Cards go 9-3, (6-2 MAC) a conference championship is out of reach. I don’t think of it that way. Instead I see how good the conference has become and finishing third carries weight now.
Remember when the MAC only had three teams in the bowls? Many fans of the BSC conferences felt three was too much.
Now the MAC is going for SIX bowl teams in 2012. Double what people use to think was outrageous.
Kent State even beat Rutgers in New Jersey. Rutgers is currently slated as the Big East champion that will play in the BCS. And Kent State is clearly better than them.
News came down this month that the Big East will lose their automatic BCS berth in the 2014 season. Instead the MAC, Sun Belt, Big East, Mountain West, and Conference USA will battle it out for a spot.
That may not sound like big news but I think this opens the door a crack wider for a MAC team to get into the country club of whatever the BCS turns into. Currently, it is a four-team playoff with four additional bowls adding up to 12 teams with a piece of the postseason pie.
The four-team playoff is out of reach but the other bowls may be closer than ever.
In 2008, Ball State was undefeated and did not have much of a chance at getting into a BCS game. Would that change in the new system? Perhaps, but there are some key differences.
- 1. The Big East loses it’s edge in recruiting. For Ball State this means the Louisville Cardinals, and Cincinnati Bearcats no longer have an advantage in gobbling up local talent. Since I hate those two teams I can’t think of anything better than to say EAT IT!
- 2. With Boise State in another conference it may be tougher for the Broncos to go undefeated. Who other than the Broncos scare you in those five conferences we previously mentioned? East Carolina? Troy State? Louisiana Tech? Any random school with a question mark?
- 3. The MAC is the most stable out of the five conferences. The Big East and Conference USA is why geography teachers think no one pays attention in their classes. The Mountain West is going through a lot of changes and the Sun Belt is still the Sun Belt. The MAC has plenty of rivalries developed and the league is great fit for all the schools with the exception of UMass. Why are the Minutemen here again?
- 4. Television matters. I think I was able to find every Ball State game on the internet this year or on some obscure cable channel. The argument that small schools can’t get exposure does not work anymore. The MAC may not be making much in terms of TV revenue, but the bigger goal is to get their name out. The MAC is succeeding in that. Hell even Eastern Michigan is on TV so we can laugh at their fan base. Before I only had rumors of EMU fans. Thanks to the ESPN 3, I know that at least 20 of them exist.
A MAC team may still not be able to compete for a national championship but they may closer to relevancy among the football world than ever before. Especially if a school emerges as a team that can take that automatic bid. Perhaps Ball State in say 2014.
So kick back Friday night and enjoy the MAC championship. Don’t be bitter that Ball State is not there are a lot of positives in play. Then watch a Big East game for laughs. Those guys are hilarious. Sounds like a good weekend.