Who would have thought that on a weekend the where Ball State gets a bowl bid the bigger story would be our bronze stalk rival Northern Illinois.Yes, your Ball State Cardinals are less than three weeks away from winning, cough, I mean playing in a bowl game against Central Florida. For those who were able to stomach the disinteresting Conference USA championship, you saw how UCF is not exactly strong. If the Cards can heal up they should take this one.
Plenty of other news overshadowed the bowl bid. Specifically, the Northern Illinois Huskies flipping the bird at the BCS. Kent State would have done the same had it had been on the other side of an epic MAC Championship Friday.
Northern jumped from 21 to 15 in the BCS standings thanks to teams like Texas, Nebraska, and UCLA losing.
During the week leading up to the MAC Championship game, ESPN did everything to promote the game talking how the winner could bust the BCS. Once that fantasy became a reality the worldwide leader in talking heads took a different tune.
Next thing I knew people I have been watching on College Gameday my whole life began ripping the Huskies a new one. Instead of talking about how monumental this was for a small schools everywhere it was all NIU does not belong and never will belong.
Does NIU belong in the BCS? If Louisville and Wisconsin belong then they absolutely do. Heck, we were close Saturday night to a 6-6 Georgia Tech Tech team knocking off Florida State in the ACC championship. Had the Yellow Jackets won would Jesse Palmer tell them to go away too?
Instead all ESPN could talk about was how Kansas was the only good win NIU had all year and how it lost to Iowa. The Iowa game was at the start of the year when the Huskies were breaking in a new quarterback. Why did no one on ESPN mention that?
As Jordan Lynch adjusted, NIU became even better than they were a year ago.
No one could admit that the MAC is simply better than the Big East and has gotten to the point where winning in conference matters. Northern beat Ball State, Kent State, and Toledo. All are good teams who would have finished high in the Big East conference this year. Kent State won at Rutgers. Toledo beat Cincinnati, Western Michigan beat Connecticut, and Ball State beat South Florida involving what might have been the most memorable touchdown grab in Muncie.
Don’t forget Ohio’s win over Penn State. Penn State actually finished 8-4 which inflated the MAC’s rankings with the computers. Even Central Michigan got in on the act topping Iowa on the road. And of course, Ball State beat the school from Bloomington with the ugly logo.
Bottom line, the MAC killed it in non conference action this year and had a whopping seven bowl eligible teams this year. The best part all seven got in.
That is a good conference. More worthy than the geography challenged Big East of having an automatic bid.
You might not like it ESPN, but as Dr. Phil would say in a dumb car commercial, “Tough tinsel.”
As for the game Ball State and the MAC has a lot on the line with this year’s Orange Bowl. If Northern is blown out then we have some credibility issues going forward. From observing the Big Ten the last few years, having a lack of credibility from bad bowl defeats can cripple a conference for future postseasons.
On the other side if Northern does well then I would not be surprised if another conference makes a play for the Huskies. As desperate as the Big East and Conference USA have been the last few weeks, an invitation is probably already in the mail. Tulane and East Carolina? Really Big East?
Maybe ESPN was intentionally bashing NIU Sunday night in their bowl selection show to drum up interest for the game. Think about it. If Oklahoma was playing Florida State it would just be another BCS bowl with no implications on the national championship. Instead the Orange bowl is now highly intriguing. It is similar to the Fiesta bowl with Boise State and Oklahoma a few years ago. How many other Fiesta Bowl games can you recall? That game and ….
In short, it’s a big game. Especially with the money being pumped in. Maybe Ball State can stop charging student fees? HAHA!
The other big news for Ball State this weekend was the passing of a former coaching great. When Rick Majerus coached Ball State to the sweet sixteen I was in diapers. Instead I only know him as a rotund man coaching Utah against my Kentucky Wildcats in big games.
Whenever Majerus would come in conversations I had with Muncie natives their eyes would light up. That pretty much says it all. Majerus did for the basketball program what Brady Hoke did for the football program. If anyone has any Majerus stories please share them in the comments.
Well Central Florida I guess we are no longer friends for the next few weeks. May the best team win. Oh wait, that’s us.