It Bull Run's turn to host the round table. Given the nature of a round table it seemed proper to combine two of my most frequently watched items, College Football and political banter shows.
This Weeks Panel, and their full responses can be found at:
- Over The Pylon
- Temple Football Forever
- Falcon Blog
- Hustle Belt
- Eagle Totem
- Let's go Rockets
- Fire up Chips (Better late than never)
MACLaughlin - Issue number one: Will the forest fire of College Football Expansion ever burn a path to the Mid American Conferences doorstep? Throughout the summer the MAC has been mostly left out of expansion/raiding conversations EMU athletic director Derrick Gragg seemed to hint that there are serious thoughts about adding more team(s). Dust off you DeLorean and tell us what the MAC looks like in 2014. Who stays, who goes and who's new? What would you're realistically ideal MAC look like.
Temple Football Forever: I don't think Temple will be around then (I'm thinking it will head to the Big East) so I would replace the Owls if I'm the MAC with Marshall. That's a better fit, geographically, for the MAC than Temple is and I think Marshall could be convinced the MAC is a better fit than CUSA. Problem is I don't know who goes to get the number even.
Over The Pylon: I think that the superconferences that were briefly bantered about are virtually inevitable, and with the exception of maybe Temple, there isn’t a groundswell of support for any of our members to join someone else’s league. Sure, there was talk of Buffalo jumping to the Big East, but I don’t see that being a reality. In truth, the Bulls are not quite "it" enough for a BCS caliber conference, and they are so shoehorned into the MAC that neither scenario makes much sense.
Hustle Belt: Temple as a football-only school is a very movable object. You and a buddy could probably move it yourselves without paying exorbitant fees for a moving company. They could leave the MAC if athletic director Bill Bradshaw can convince coach Al Golden to stay on the grounds that they return to an AQ conference, such as the Big East or maybe the ACC. Oh, but the Big East kicked their keysters out for not being competitive? Think they hold a grudge? When money is involved, the vapors quickly vaporize.
Falcon Blog: If you want my honest opinion, I don't think the MAC will add very much over the next few years. If anything, I think the best case scenario is that the MAC stays intact the way it is now. I think that if C-USA gets raided, they could come in for Toledo, Buffalo, or Akron, each of which is in an urban environment. Would anyone take Temple as a football-only school?
Fire Up Chips: I expect in 2014, as foretold by the movie Back to the Future II, the USA will be revolutionized by the invention of the hover-board. There will also be some great 80's cafes dotting America where former president Ronald Reagen will interact with you while you eat. While I expect most Americans to be either hover boarding or eating in an 80's cafe, if they turn on the television to see the Mid American Conference they will see a conference that has actually contracted, kicking Kent State and Eastern Michigan from the conference.
MACLaughlin: The answer is that when super conferences kick in Villinova moves up the the Big East and Conference USA gets reacquainted with the back of the Big East's woodshed. Temple, Buffalo, and Akron are targeted by Conference USA. The MAC Add's CAA teams looking to move up and ends up a stronger conference.
Issue number two: Gold stars and dunce caps who gets what? Most teams out of conference schedules are now winding down. Who has had the most disappointing and the most surprisingly impressive set out OOC games?
Eagle Totem: There’s been plenty of suckiness to go around, but I love to pick on Ball State, and I won’t hesitate to do so here. I think they’ve had the most disappointing set of non-conference games. Despite scheduling two FCS teams and Big (11) Ten bottom-dweller Purdue, they only managed one win. Against Iowa, not only did the Cardinals fail to score, but they didn’t even have any scoring opportunities; they only managed to cross the 50-yard line once, reaching the Iowa 39-yard line before punting. That’s why Ball State remains my MAC cellar dweller, followed by Akron and then EMU. Hey, the Eagles may be on a 16-game losing streak, but at least all those losses were to FBS teams! NIU has also been a little disappointing, just because I had them picked as the best of the MAC, and they haven’t been looking like it.
Over The Pylon: The most unimpressive results go to the conference as a whole. No signature wins, a couple of FCS losses, and just uninspired play that isn’t helping to bolster anyone’s sense of confidence in the MAC.
Falcon Blog: Temple probably has the best resume, with a win over UConn and a Villanova team that is high quality FCS. Toledo's win over Purdue is impressive, as is the NIU win over Minnesota. Speaking of disappointing, however, NIU was within 6 points of Illinois and lost to a bad Iowa State team--they could easily have three BCS wins.
Let's Go Rockets: While Temple probably had the most impressive run of OOC games so far, hitting Villanova and Connecticut (and knocking off CMU between those two) before dropping the game to Penn State (vs Army still left), Toledo still has two OOC games left after picking off Purdue (vs Wyoming, and @ Boise State) so it’s a tough call on who’s run of OOC was most surprising…. gotta wait a few more weeks for that call.Akron is the easy kill for the most disappointing set of OOC games — dropping to Syracuse, Gardner-Webb, Kentucky and Indiana.
MACLaughlin: Gold Stars for Temple, and a Dunce Cap for Akron
Issue Number Three: Who should be fitted for a pair of Asbestos boxers? Coaches who should be shown the door stick around for years due to school indifference, financial issues, or the excuse that they have not had enough time. In a world where there are no excuses which MAC Coach, new or not, should sit upon the hottest seat in the conference?
Over The Pylon: This is quite the interesting question, if for no other reason than oftentimes the coach that SHOULD be worried doesn’t have to be. Through an interesting mix of circumstances ranging from financial to change, guys like Rob Ianello and Stan Parrish have no reason to worry, but both should. Ron English and EMU started the year well, playing Army and Miami close, but have since sucked it up something fierce against OSU and Central. Perhaps the coach that should worry most is WMU’s Bill Cubit. It isn’t for abysmal results, it’s that the Broncos are just so darned mediocre year in and year out regardless of their talent or skill.
Temple Football Forever: Stan Parrish
Falcon Blog: I think it is Doug Martin. Kent has continued to languish and was set up for a decent start. They are 1-2 and it is hard to see what they have, but I think they need some wins for Martin to keep his job.
Hustle Belt: It's stillat Kent State. I'm going to be watching this team like Crispin Glover sitting in the tree in Back to the Future. October 16 at Toledo is their hardest game left on the schedule. But Jumpin' Jack Flash, look at their schedule: Temple and OHIO at home. No CMU. No NIU. These boys can finish the season with eight more wins — maybe nine. But if they finish the conference at .500 or worse, I have to think he's out. That would be a disappointing whimper of a finish.
Eagle Totem: Stan Parrish probably has the most to worry about. After going 12-0 in the 2008 regular season and being ranked as high as #12, the team has gone 3-14 since Parrish took over, including two losses to FCS teams (New Hampshire, Liberty). The Cardinals do have the benefit of getting the two other worst MAC teams (EMU and Akron) in Muncie.
MACLaughlin: Ron English's "I'll have my day, if not here somewhere else" comment and his 0-16 record catapult to the dubious position to the coach who should be on MAC's most incendiary seat but in the real world it's Doug Martin who's job is in the most danger.
Issue number four: So how would you rank the MAC right now?
Issue Number Five: Who's sand bagging and who's spent all their powder? Of your bottom five teams which one(s) do you think have the best chance of making some noise in conference this season? And of the top 4 who is most likely to fall apart?
Over The Pylon: For me, and perhaps this is homerism, Ball State has the potential out of those 5 teams to make the most noise. With a freshman QB in Keith Wenning that continues to get better and a running game that continues to be one of the best in the conference, the Cardinals will surprise people. Mark it down.
At the top, Miami and Toledo are not the Temples and CMUs of the MAC, and they will get brought back to reality soon enough.
Eagle Totem: After losing at Iowa State and at Illinois, Northern Illinois’ win over Minnesota still doesn’t have me totally convinced that they can live up to the pre-season hype, and while I don’t think they’ll drop to the bottom of the conference, I wouldn’t be too surprised if they wind up somewhere in the middle of the pack.As for the worst teams, Akron, Ball State, and EMU are unlikely to manage more than one or two conference wins each this year, and those wins will most likely come when they play each other. Bowling Green and Western Michigan both have a chance to shake things up, but I think Western Michigan has a much more favorable schedule; the Falcons will have games at Temple, at Toledo, at Ohio, and at Central Michigan, while the Broncos won’t have to face Temple or Ohio this year. Western Michigan’s toughest remaining MAC games are probably at Central Michigan and home against Northern Illinois. But it’s not inconceivable that when these two teams meet in Bowling Green on the day after Thanksgiving, a bowl trip might be on the line.
Let's Go Rockets: Buffalo or Miami have the best shot at creating some kind of stir before season’s end. With Miami, Ball State, EMU and Akron still on UB’s schedule — they’ll likely score wins in most of those games.
On the flipside, it seems to us that the schedule with the most heat left and the most sporadic play, right now is coming from CMU (from the top 4) and might cause them to fall the fastest of any of the other teams. With Virginia Tech and Navy still on their schedule, plus several of the other upper MAC teams, it seems like it could be an uphill battle for CMU.
Temple Football Forever: Bottom team likely to make some noise: Kent State. Top team likely to fall apart: Unfortunately, Temple, if Al Golden doesn't make a quarterback change soon. Good news is he has two potential great quarterbacks waiting in the wings. Bad news: He's stubborn and loyal to Chester Stewart to a fault
Falcon Blog: You know, I feel like I should go to Western Michigan anonymous.
I always think this is their year, and it always isn't. Thus is it always so. Is it too needy, too predictable, too enabling for me to say WMU? They are last in the MAC in turnovers...if they turn that around, it could happen, right? OK. WMU. Buffalo is second.
As for falling apart, I think it has to be Toledo. Don't get me wrong, I don't think any of them are going to fall apart, but the Rockets showed last year they are susceptible to injuries, and if they don't stay healthy, I could see them struggling. But, I think that those four teams are very solid for the title run (and the bowl run) in the MAC.
Hustle Belt: First with the good team that could go bad: I have DEFCON 3 concerns about Temple's offense. It thrives and survives on the legs of Bernard Pierce, and if he has to miss any substantial time, the defense will keep them in most games but a strict meal of field goals have never won a conference title.
Now for the icky team who could be trickly: Look at BGSU last year. They began 1-4 including dropping their MAC home opener to OHIO, then finished the regular season on a 6-1 tear. Three of those losses were winnable, winnable, and impossible. Much like this year! The home win at Marshall was such a grand evening. The other three, though ... well, Troy and Tulsa are probably games a good MAC team should win. Then Michigan. They could sniff a facsimile of last year's success, provided the offense starts getting comfy as the season ripens.However, look at those four road games: OHIO, Temple, CMU, Toledo. Gak. That's a quagmire of a schedule.
Y'know what? I'm just going to say Miami surprises everybody. I don't care if they're out of my bottom five. I'll change my previous answer.
MACLaughlin: Buffalo, with games against Ball State, Miami, Akron, and EMU is the bottom feeder with the best chance at six conference wins. Temple, if Bernard Pierce spends any real time hurt, may fall to the middle of the pack.