Friday, September 12, 2014

MAC Blogger Roundtable, Compiled...

It is MAC Blogger Roundtable time this week.  I'm jumping in to guest host this week.  I posed 3 questions to the collected wisdom of the MAC bloggers...below are answers from Let's Go Rockets, Hustle Belt, Bull Run and Eagle Totem.

1. So the MAC picked up two wins over the Big Ten but lost an FCS game, as well as a game to South Alabama and Army. On balance, good week or bad week for the MAC?

Let's Go Rockets:

It’s difficult to use the Big Ten as a barometer for MAC success anymore because they are not as good as they have been in years past — seeing the top teams in their conference lose last week (one loss to an unranked ACC opponent). It’s always positive for the MAC to play well against OOC opponents especially when they are in a top tier conference, but defeating the Purdues of the world isn’t as glamorous or infrequent as it used to be for MAC teams. It doesn’t appear that Northwestern is going to do much this season either so we put less emphasis on that win than we would have in years past. We feel that the past week was basically a wash for the MAC with a couple good wins and a couple tough loses that shouldn’t have happened.

Hustle Belt:

I'd have to go with bad. Ball State holding their own in Iowa was a pleasant surprise. NIU and CMU's wins were more expected than anything, leaving us with a Miami loss to Eastern Kentucky, Toledo getting blown apart, and Bowling Green losing Matt Johnson for the year. Add in the Kent State and Buffalo losses, and you have a rather down week. The truth hurts.

Bull Run:

On balance a decent week but the last minute loss by Ball State and the flat performance by Buffalo kind of keep it from being "an awesome" week.

People, and I'm taking clueless people, will look at this week and say "Wow The MAC beat two Big10 teams". As someone who started following the MAC in 2006 or so even I can look at the week and say "meh".

The MAC has done it before and we will do it again. Now once in awhile we will have Ohio down Penn State or Toledo beat Michigan. When we see a week where all the "good" MAC teams win and one or two of the cellar dwellers pull off a nice upset we can uncork the campaign.

Eagle Totem:

Any week the MAC wins two against the Big Ten is a good week. The positive publicity gained far outweighs the negative of a bad loss or two. Northern Illinois continues their superior play, and the Huskies knocking off a Big Ten team is old news by now. Central Michigan made a statement, albeit against a woeful Purdue team, that the Chips will be a tough out this year within the conference.

2. Once again, it seems like the West is much stronger than the East. If this continues, do you think the MAC should re-align the divisions to even things out?

Let's Go Rockets:

We don’t see any need to realign the divisions because the West is stronger than the East. If you take a look around the country, you’ll see many conferences where there is disparity between the divisions but there are no plans to change the alignments — in the SEC, for example, the West is much stronger than the East but there are no plans to realign.

Hustle Belt:

No. I like the geographical alignment. Also, keeping rivalries would be tough. The three directionals have to stay together, and you'd like NIU to keep their rivalries with Toledo and Ball State. Toledo would want to keep a rivalry with Bowling Green, so then you'd have 4 power schools right now all together, and then you'd fill it with what? UMass and Miami?

Hell, even if you broke Toledo away from NIU, then you start to get long travel times to divisional teams. Propose you keep CMU, WMU, EMU, Toledo, and BG together because, hey, they pretty much form a pennant flag on the highways. Who is your 6th team? Do you pluck Buffalo for the Ontario Sandwich? You can't separate Miami and Ohio or Akron and Kent State, so those 4 are together. Then you have to put Ball State and NIU with those 6 and Buffalo is left over (forget UMass, because they're gone anyways).

So this new proposal would be:

Great Lakes: Bowling Green, Buffalo, CMU, EMU, Toledo, WMU
Trivals (TRY-vals, like tri-rivals), or Corn Belt: Akron, Ball State, Kent State, Miami, NIU, Ohio

Actually, this isn't bad. Screw it, MAKE IT HAP'N CAP'N!

Bull Run:

As "bad" as the disparity is in football is not nearly as bad as it has been in Basketball. Hell in hoopsland the MAC has looked like Al Frankin taking Candy from a baby for nearly a decade.

We did not realign for hoops over the MAC West 7 year drought of futility why football?

The MAC East has quite a few football championships over the past ten years. Miami, Akron, Buffalo, and Bowling Green all have a trophy where as in the West the only trophies go to NIU and CMU.

Don't get me wrong I would like to see a MAC North and South where UB is paired with the Michigan Schools, NIU, Bowling Green, and Toledo but I don't see a huge benefit to outside of scratching a "realignment itch".

Eagle Totem:

tend to think that realignment is an overreaction, the solution is for the programs in the East to get better. I do dislike the fact the Bowling Green and Toledo are in different divisions, I’m not sure what the best solution is to get them together, but if realignment were to take place then at least that problem can be fixed.

Current trends in conference alignment and set up completely disregard geography, so maybe you could shift Toledo to the East and have Buffalo join the West. Then EMU and Buffalo could have a yearly battle for the Ontario Sandwich. (Editor's Note: Should totally be the poutine bowl).

3. Brady Hoke, Tim Beckman and Darrel Hazell are all former MAC coaches who are struggling in the Big 10. What are the odds all 3 are gone by the end of the year and do you think any of them will coach in the MAC again?

Let's Go Rockets:

These three coaches are in three distinct situations:

  • Brady Hoke’s Michigan team was shut out for the first time since the 1980’s. Losing the last scheduled rivalry game with Notre Dame and having to play Ohio State and Michigan State on the road, is all pointing to the departure of Hoke after this season.
  • Tim Beckman just hasn’t been able to recruit at Illinois like the program has needed to in order to be competitive. We suspect he will be gone after this season.
  • Darrel Hazell will get some breathing room at Purdue before he sees his tenure come to an end… but how much time is not clear. Winning or, at least, being competitive in all their games will buy Hazell some time to recruit.

Hustle Belt

Hoke? Still depends on the season, but anything less than 9 wins and his job is likely open. Beckman is gone. I'm surprised he's still at Illinois after where he's taken that team. Hazell will get another year, but his seat is getting really toasty quick. If Purdue isn't at .500 next season, he's gone as well.

As far as coming back? I think Beckman and Hazell might get jobs as a coordinator and head coach respectively. Hoke will never come back, probably because his ego thinks he's too high for it now. But who knows, if Terry Bowden and Frank Solich can come to the MAC, anything's possible. (Editor's Note: If Bowden and Solich can coach in the can either of those 3 guys).

Bull Run

I'd say Hoke is the only one in serious trouble. I think after three seasons where Michigan has struggled despite some talent he is in trouble. Then add getting set upon by the and he may already be a dead man walking. He needs to make some serious noise in the B10.

Look at the bright side, I suspect that Pete Lembo will be hired away from Ball state after the season and that creates a very nice fall back job for Hoke in Muncie. He can go after that MAC championship he never won.

Hazell and Beckman have more time. Neither Illinois nor Purdue has a recent culture of winning and those two coaches have had just one and two seasons respectively to turn those programs around.

Eagle Totem

Right now it looks like a 100% chance that all three will be gone, but if I had to pick one who could possibly survive it would be Beckman. Hoke has lost the fan base, and unless Michigan combines an eight or nine win season with an upset of either MSU or Ohio State he is finished. I don’t see that happening. Hazell took on a tough job, but that program is going nowhere. Hazell did a fine job at Kent State, but appears to be in over his head at Purdue.

As for whether they will coach in the MAC again, I doubt it, unless Hazell were to return to Kent State. Once MAC coaches “move up” to a bigger program, they rarely come back if the attempt fails. Once you get the stank of losing on you, ADs prefer to stay away, and go with the hot coordinator or loyal assistant.

No comments :