1) Lets start with the new blood. There are several new coaches in the conference, which coach was the best get and why?
Darrell Hazell. If Hazell had stayed around, I think he'd be coaching the Scarlet and Grey, and I think there's a decent chance he will be next year. I like Hazell to effect an immediate improvement in an under performing team.
2) Lets look at the old blood? Which coach is the most likely to be dumped after the season and which is most likely to be plucked away by a big AQ school?
You know....I have a shocking prediction. No MAC coach will be fired after this season. How about that? The only one I can see is Cubit, but the other coaches are all pretty new. Almost every coach in the conference is in their first three years.
Now, as for being plucked away...Beckman, Hazell and Solich. In that order.
3) Which somewhat realistically winnable non conference game would give the MAC the most publicity? What are the odds of the MAC team winning that game
The best opportunity will come on September 16, 2011, when the UT Rockets play the Boise State Broncos. Boise is the darling of everyone's eye, and they have a legit shot at making the BCS game this year. In fact, in a lot of ways, they have an odds-on shot. For this to work, they need to beat Georgia in the opener, and then head to UT. The Rockets are very tough at home, have a solid team, and the place will be rocking. How about the Rockets be the ones to take Boise out of contention?
4) What do you think of the UMass addition and how would you realign the divisions?
I'm for it. I know people object to the football-only nature of their membership. Well, OK. But here in the real world, we have to know this. I cannot imagine that either school wants to move all their sports to the MAC---both for competitive reasons and for travel. Both have strong basketball commitments, and the A-10 is a top flight conference. (UMASS plays in the CAA for football.)
And, by the way, do you think the MAC wants to be sending its baseball teams to Amherst, MA. Didn't think so.
It is still good for the MAC. First, if for no other reason, we are getting to an even number of teams, which means 7 in each division, which is logistically much more manageable. And, UMASS can raise the competitive level of the conference, as Temple has and will. It gives us bigger geography.
Is UMASS just using us as a stepping stone, ala Marshall and UCF. Honest to god, who isn't?. We're all in it for ourselves. Who's using who? Got me...
Finally, we will get some solid basketball dates out of UMASS just as we did with Temple.
5) Who wins the East and what is their key game along that journey
Kent wins the East. Their key win is in Athens on October 1.
6) Who wins the West and what is their key game along that journey
NIU wins the West. Key win....Glass Bowl, November 1.
7) Rank the teams first to last
- Ball State