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MAC Roundtable Results

MacRoundTableAdmittedly, the MAC blogosphere has been an evolving little gem over the last several years. I guess as the MACtion on the field hit fever pitch, the MACtion on the web stepped up their game as well. What has also evolved is the MAC Roundtable. It’s not like King Arthur’s with turkey legs and wenches running around in corsets, because let’s be honest: turkey legs are a gigantic pain in the ass to eat and the service region for the MAC doesn’t lend itself well to females capable of squeezing into anything other than a giant rubbermaid trash can (Exception: the state of Indiana and BSU specifically). Have you seen some of the slumpbusters from Michigan and Ohio? Gooo. I’d rather spend an evening with a lit piece of sandpaper. But I digress.

This week’s host of the roundtable is one of the sexiest blogs on the internet and one of the patriarchs of MAC coverage. The founders of this site I think really set the bar for blogging and are the example that all bloggers should strive to meet. This week’s host is OverThePylon, and man, those guys are good. Hey.., that’s us! HIGH FIVE BRO!

The questions we posed to the group as a whole were:

1.) As we begin to actually move to conference play, what have you learned about your team through their non-conference schedule? More importantly, in what ways would you like to see your non-conference schedule improve or change in future years?

2.) Let’s chat for a minute about conference rivals. Allegedly we all have them, and we all hate them. What have you learned about your rivals and do they worry you for your team’s success this year and beyond?

3.) In terms of coaching, the only consistent thing for the MAC is the instability in the coaching ranks. Who do you feel is most likely to move up to greener pastures after this season? More importantly which coach has their office locks changed and their personal effects mailed home at the end of the season.

4.) Rank ’em. Worst to first.

Participants this week include Falcon Blog for Bowling Green, Bull Run for Buffalo, Let’s Go Rockets for Toledo, and Hustle Belt with a WMU slant. Click on through to enjoy the amazing responses to our magnificent questions from us, as well as the others’ answers too.

1.) As we begin to actually move to conference play, what have you learned about your team through their non-conference schedule? More importantly, in what ways would you like to see your non-conference schedule improve or change in future years?

FB: I think the biggest thing we have learned abut BG is that the team can score points. The development of Matt Johnson at QB, along with Travis Greene at WR has very much solidified some key question marks. With a strong defense and even an above average offense, BG becomes much harder to beat. As for the out-of-conference schedule, I am relatively happy. The current format is 1 FCS, two AQ and one non-AQ on a home and home. I like playing a non-AQ team like Tulsa…they are a good and interesting opponent who will play us home and home. If it were up to me, we’d replace one AQ game with a non-AQ game, but given the funding issues I don’t think that is in the cards.

BR: Buffalo continues to be a team with top level talent at the certain positions but lacks in depth and breath that a school needs to be frequently successful in the MAC. It doesn’t help that at times our coaches seem determined to put a square peg in a round hole the players Buffalo could use to win are sometimes not used in the way they could be most effective.

So We’ll continue to see UB run at the center of the line for a yard or two, when they are far better running off the left side of the line. We will see one mediocre bubble screen after another because the staff thinks at some point it will work.Then for fun we will only rush three and play our corners way off the line.

OTP: I’ve learned many things. Successes. Failures. What love is. How to write an effective haiku. Oh… you were wondering about the football season? Fine, then. No reason to be a jerk about it. I’ve learned that BSU’s offense is really good, the defense is somewhat of a question mark, and the special teams successes we’ve enjoyed over the last few years aren’t shaping up to be the same in 2013. Missed extra points make me want to feed kittens to an ATM American Psycho-style, so for the kittens of central Kentucky’s sake, I hope that doesn’t keep happening.

As for the out of conference scheduling, I like the model that is being attempted in Muncie where you have an FCS home game, an FBS road game, a service academy, and a major road game. It’s taking some time to actually have that thanks to contracts in place before the current administration got there, but I have nothing but faith in the new folks.

LGR: Toledo faced one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the MAC this year with back to back games against SEC opponents to start the season. Even Toledo’s home opener featured one of the most talented FCS teams in perennial powerhouse Eastern Washington. UT has long been known as a team that will play any team in the country and this year’s non-conference schedule was no exception. As for the future, we’d like to see our non-conference schedule continue to feature strong teams at the top tier of college football who can bring exciting games to Rocket fans and storied programs to the Glass Bowl.

From our non-conference schedule we’ve learned that the Rockets defense has vastly improved over the past few seasons. Having only given up 24 points to Florida and hanging tight until the end against Missouri, the Rockets have proven that they are not going to be blown out in any game this season. Holding record setting QB Adams from Eastern Washington to 21 points was a telling sign that this defense will help keep the Rockets in each game.

HB: (As a WMU fan) – This was a very hard non-conference season.  3 Big Ten road games weren’t easy to watch (including that shelling by Iowa of all teams last weekend).  But add the insult to injury in the home loss to FCS weakling Nicholls, and you have a disastrous September.  The Broncos can’t stop the run, P.J. Fleck it seems is struggling to keep his players motivated at times, and the offense is just plain (what the Spanish call) “el terrible”.

Obviously, the mark against Nicholls still stands, but Bronco fans everywhere have been calling for a easier non-conference schedule for the past couple seasons.  Last year saw the Broncos play EIU (that same team that gave NIU fits), 2 Big Ten teams (weaker teams, but still), and UConn.  This year got worse.  Payday games are seemingly hurting the fanbase by adding losses before the MAC games even start and hurting morale.

An idea schedule in my mind would be something along the lines of 1 “payday game”, 1 “mid-major” game, 1 FCS team, and an alternating wild-card of a payday game and a mid-major game.  Then you have 3 pay-days every other year and get 2 should-be wins, and 3 good match-ups.  Obviously though, it takes money to run these programs, and WMU is struggling for some.  We won’t see this schedule any time soon.

2.) Let’s chat for a minute about conference rivals. Allegedly we all have them, and we all hate them. What have you learned about your rivals and do they worry you for your team’s success this year and beyond?

FB: First of all, the Rockets are always worth worrying about. Even at their weakest, they represent a virulent strain that can strike at the worst possible moment, like a latent virus deep in your stomach tract. They are only defeated when all vital signs have been extinguished. Only then can you rest. What we learned about them is that they are a quality football program…Matt Campbell is a good coach, etc. The mark of a strong program is that the team is good every year, even after losing a lot of players and UT seems to be in that mode. They played well against Missouri and although the Eastern Washington game was competitive, that’s the #3 FCS team in the country. I watched some of the CMU game and I thought it was a very solid performance.

BR: We have no rival and I am close to giving up on finding one in the MAC’s current configuration. UB is really the odd man out in the conference for several reasons.

The first is that everyone, even EMU, has near total success over UB Football (Eagles lead the Ontario Sandwich Trophy count 2-0). It’s hard to be a rival when you have not had success going both ways in a series. Maybe our 2008 win over Ball State and their ownership of UB post Turner Gill could materialize something but we don’t play the Cards often enough.

The second and third reasons are geography and tradition. The nearest schools to UB are Akron, Kent, and EMU. All of those schools have long held rivalries with in state foes. Is Akron ever going to have someone as much as they hate Kent? I don’t think so, but if they ever do it will likely be another Ohio School.

If UB had not been a dumpster fire over the past four seasons maybe we could have developed something with Ohio but as it stands most MAC games are no more considered rivalry games than the affair we have coming up against UConn this weekend.

I like that Ball State and NIU have started to really engage in a trophy game. It’s a purely manufactured affair but both squads are good enough teams that the quest for the bronze stalk has started to take root, at least thats what some NIU fans have told me..

I’d like UB to pick up the powder horn against UMass but we invested in hating Temple and look what that got us.

OTP: I would assume our rival is NIU as we have this neat little trophy called The Bronze Stalk. It sucks. I hate it. It’s a manufactured thing that makes no sense. I would rather our rival be Miami, as they are closer, they are snooty, and I enjoy whipping their little bottoms, but alas, that’s not meant to be. What I’ve learned about OUR MOST HATED RIVAL NIU is that they are good but they are not unbeatable. Their defense is far from stout and their games against an FCS opponent and arguably the worst team in FBS were both games they easily could have dropped. So in summation, your honor, I have learned that NIU is awful and they won’t sustain success and they probably smell funny and their parents don’t really love them and their coach likes Justin Bieber and their trainers don’t just rip the band aid off. God, they are the absolute worst.

LGR: At 3-1, BG has shown that they have solved some of the issues they had last season and are definitely fielding a stronger team this season. With the exception of the Indiana game, it’s evident that their team is clicking and both the passing and rushing games appear to be in sync and readily capable of sustaining drives and putting points on the scoreboard. This year’s matchup between BG and TOL will feature much less disparity between the two teams than what we’ve seen in the past and that leads to an exciting, close football game that the fans should really enjoy. Success in this rivalry has swung back and forth between the teams often and we expect nothing less in the future as well.

HB: /giggles

OK, so I shouldn’t be laughing because WMU is 0-4, but EMU and CMU are both 1-3 with close wins (but wins nonetheless) against FCS foes.  Obviously, this is perfect for WMU fans because despite a down year, the two rivals are also having down seasons (or just normal for EMU) and the Broncos still should match-up well against the two.  Cooper Rush has looked decent at QB, but the loss of Zurlon Tipton makes the Chips much less scary.  EMU is still EMU and doesn’t look to change going forward.

Obviously next year will be interesting with a decent amount of turnover on the Bronco offense and defense, but a returning line and a stacked WR corps should help whoever is at QB succeed and lead “the turnaround”.  CMU and WMU will get better.  EMU?  I’m not so sure.

3.) In terms of coaching, the only consistent thing for the MAC is the instability in the coaching ranks. Who do you feel is most likely to move up to greener pastures after this season? More importantly which coach has their office locks changed and their personal effects mailed home at the end of the season.

FB: I see a year of big change. If I had to guess, I’d say Campbell, Clawson, Carey and Lembo all move up. I believe Ron English is toast, as is Dan Enos. It would not surprise me if Treadwell or Quinn was sent packing, though that is less likely.

BR: I think we can all agree Ron English is due to be locked out of his Ypsi suit but ironically he is 2-0 against Jeff Quinn and the Buffalo coach just got a sweet contract extension until 2018. Other coaches who should be polishing their resumes would be Don Treadwell and Dan Enos. Miami and CMU fans may have had enough of their current regimes.

So who is poached from the MAC this year? Lembo has to be on somebody’s list. He stopped an all out free fall started by Stan Parrish seemingly moments after setting foot on campus. There was no “rebuilding” under Lembo, BSU went from a door mat to a respectable 500 record in year one, and then won nine games in year two. He is young and has not had a losing season since his first at Elon in 2006.

Maybe a very outside shot Matt Campbell goes as well but other than that I would be surprised to see any MAC coach get picked off this year. The other good looking coaches are either too new at their post (NIU), too old to start over (Ohio), or have had mixed results (Bowling Green).

OTP: Given the season will end the way I think it will, with BSU winning the MAC, Pete Lembo is a goner. Where he goes is anybody’s guess, but there’s going to be several key openings at massive premier jobs that will have a ripple effect throughout college football. For example, let’s say Florida fires Will Muschamp (which I think they will) and they end up with Charlie Strong from Louisville. I’d think Tom Jurich gives Pete a call. I don’t think there’s anyone else that will get the call up. Because everyone else is not Pete Lembo, who is awesome, and all of you should kneel before your new football God, peasants. As for who gets the boot, it’s gotta be Ron English. He’s not the worst (as that spot is reserved for OUR MOST HATED RIVAL NIU) but he’s awfully close. Now, PJ Fleck should be fired for being a hackish putz who runs around with boat oars and DJ turntables. He won’t be, but he should be. Oars?! Oars, y’all.

LGR: We don’t see any MAC coaches being ready to make the move on to a top-tier program. In our opinion, prolonged consistency is the best indicator of a coaches’ prowess and being able to adapt the game plan to the group of athletes presented at any given time is evidence of your abilities as a coach. Doesn’t seem to us like any of the MAC coaches fit that bill right now.

HB: The obvious choice for “promotion” is Pete Lembo.  The turnaround he’s done at Ball State is incredible, and he’s running a great offense there.  Barring a stumble down the MAC stretch, he should be movin’ on up.  I also like Matt Campbell as a possible jumper with a dark-horse in Dave Clawson.  Clawson was decent at the FCS level, and has BGSU playing solid in the shadows of the MAC West and Toledo.

As for coaches losing their jobs, you immediately look at Ron English.  Things aren’t looking good for EMU and he’s been there far too long to not have success.  He’s already toast barring a huge mid-season run.  Charley Molnar and Dan Enos (yes, even with that extension) also are feeling the heat, but should stay.  Terry Bowden can be lumped in there too, but needs to show improvement against teams not named Michigan.

4.) Rank ’em. Worst to first.

The cumulative rankings from all the respondents resulted in:

13. UMass
12. Western Michigan
11. Eastern Michigan
10. Miami
9. Akron
8. Central Michigan
7. Kent
6. Buffalo
5. Toledo
4. Bowling Green
2. Ohio
2. Ball State
1. NIU (5)

Go forth, now more educated.

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