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Surviving and Thriving in the MAC

It's about that point in the season.  Everywhere I look it's talk about the BCS.  Somehow, seven teams have found their way to unblemished records without crossing eachother's paths.  This year, it's not just about teams from the BCS conferences.  The Big 6.  This is a rogue time, where we're talking about TCU and Boise State potentially becoming at least one part of the National Championship picture.  Sure, there are still games to play, but just the conversation is what makes college football so special.

It's a form of guerrilla warfare, where the little guy makes his best attempt at crashing the party.  His goal is absolute chaos, anarchy if you will.  It's Brad Pitt's character in Fight Club sabotaging the food of the bigwigs in the fancy-shmancy hotel banquet.

If you look hard enough throughout the college football landscape, you'll find the Mid-American Conference creeping in the corner.

It's defintiely not a 'glamor' conference.  There are no teams in the Top-25, as Central Michigan just stumbled their opportunity getting throttled by Boston College 10-31.  It certainly brought the Chippewas back from the stratosphere, proving that Dan "Mid-Major Tebow" LeFevour is a mere mortal.

They were supposed to be our Boise, our TCU.  The team that would put the MAC on the national radar.  It didn't start out well with a loss to Arizona, a team that has improved all the way to a national ranking.  In one fell swoop, there went any of the far-and-away dreams of potentially becoming a BCS buster.  Perfection was the only way.  It takes special teams, not conference parity to make waves in the national scene.  No MAC team has finished the season ranked since Ben Roethlisberger's Miami & Bowling Green back in 2003.

The MAC is nowhere close to becoming, as a whole, something to match up to one of the 'Big 6'.  But neither is the MWC or the WAC.  At the bottom, you've got stinkers.  Teams that just don't belong in a BCS conference.  At the bottom of the MAC you've got three new coaches with 1-8, 1-8 & 0-8 records.  In a battle of the winless, Ball State creeped by EMU to grab their only win of the season.  An underrated Miami OH team beat Toledo this past weekend as the Rockets had to put their 1st, 2nd and 3rd string QBs in the game.

Right there in the mix is a coach that's about to get fired with a 1-7 record.  That one win was over an FCS team.  Akron, I'm looking at you.

Depth becomes an issue, as most teams trudge through the season missing main components of their team.  This Thursday, Northern Illinois takes on an Eastern Michigan team that lost their starter Andy Schmitt to an ACL injury before the Eagles ever made it to a conference game.  The way to win this conference is simply stay healthy and win each week.  It doesn't matter how you win, just win.  Win ugly, win in blowouts.  It's that W that counts.  You're not trying to impress any computers or pollsters, which is the way college football should be at its core.

Thus we move to the weekday games.  The MAC sold their soul to ESPN for exposure and is now paying for it.  Buffalo-Bowling Green on a Tuesday seems ludicrous to me, throwing off school schedules and fans schedules alike.  At least they get the ESPN2 treatment.

Northern Illinois-Eastern Michigan is set to be broadcast on ESPNU on Thursday, one of the sisters that the basic cable ESPN has cast off.  Thursday is a much more reasonable day, almost part of the weekend.  In fact, when I went to college I didn't have class on Fridays my last couple years so technically it was the start of my weekend.  Attendance will surely be affected, as Thursday night Tae-Kwon-Do classes used to be a favorite of mine and if I missed one of those I feared I might get karate-chopped in half.  And do I really want to miss that mixer with the Sigma Sigma Sigmas on Thursday night?

On regular ol' ESPN, there is the big ugly Virginia Tech monster staring right back at me.  What are you doing Hokies?  There's no double dipping in this Thursday tub of ice cream.  You got your shot last week, now go ahead and play on Saturday so the mid-majors can have some fun.  ESPN2 has some creature called the MLS Playoffs the same night.

As is the life of a team in the MAC, where teams like Ohio and Kent State can carve away at the weak and become bowl-eligible.  The injury-rattled takes on the rebuilding who then takes on a team that hasn't been bowling since before I was born (Temple).  Scrapping for some exposure and recognition.  Playing on all days of the week in front of whoever can possibly make the game.  Whenever, wherever.  Dreams of a Conference Championship.  A bowl game anywhere: Mobile, Detroit or even Canada.

Survive and Thriving in Mid-America, its college football at it's purest.