This season the roundtable includes
Over The Pylon - Ball State
This year the round table has two "teams" of bloggers that alternate weeks. I'm not scheduled for this week but our host, "The Chip Report", had some really good questions so I am just going to throw in my lot this week.
He may or may not use these in his digest post later this week but either way some of the other answers I'm seeing out there are pretty interesting.
Question 1:Over the last 5 years, the MAC has seen an influx in recruiting talent. Is this consistent with the national landscape or is the MAC slowly gaining ground on other conferences?
I honestly don't think the MAC has had an influx of talent. Where are the Big Ben's in this league? As a conference were not putting that many more players into the NFL now than we were ten years ago.
Instead we are seeing the rise of recruiting services and the social networks influence on recruiting. It used to be that players were scouted in secret. Sure there has always been a market for the blue chippers but who really cared if a marginal "three star" athlete in Maryland was deciding between Buffalo and UMass?
So why has that changed? It's not like rivals, and scout, and the other care about the MAC. I would bet our little motley crew of sites does a better job covering mid major recruiting than any of those sites. Maroon Musket is pretty much what I would call the gold standard for team recruiting coverage.
Today there are simply more sites devoted to UMass, Buffalo, and Eastern Michigan than exited 5 years ago. Fan oriented sites and professional prospect sites like "Scouting Ohio" or "Scouting PA" make use of every thing from youtube highlight videos, twitter updates, facebook pages, to google carrier pigeons.
The wealth of information causes grade inflation. A guy who would have been tagged as a one star because Rivals was not going to bother with them is now a tree star highly tracked prospect.
Question 2: Which currently successful MAC team is built for long term success and which, if any, has all their eggs in the 2012 basket?
It's hard, at this point, to argue against Ohio. NIU and Toledo also seem to have buit up fundamentally strong programs. But the Bobcats have had just one really bad season since 2006. They have been to four bowls since 2007, and it will be five after this season.
Unlike most MAC athletic departments the school has the advantage of being "The Only game in town" and they have nurtured that top build up a program atmosphere that should keep talent which is far better than average coming in to Athens.
Now what happens when Solich moves on? hard to say.
Administratively NIU and Toledo have each done a great job defining themselves and then hiring for that model. The transition from Kill to Dorian went wonderfully and the change from the Harnish to Lynch eras seems to be going off without a hitch.
Consistent Coaching is hard to find in the MAC. The model Toledo and NIU have used is "We want to play this type of football, who out there can do that for us". And that model works. They have an identity that their fans like and they will try to keep that when they have to replace their current coaches or when they are looking for players out there.
Kent seems to have also been moving that way. And look at the results.
Buffalo went the other way. Quinn was 180 degrees from Gill in both his demeanor and in his style of play. UB has paid dearly for that move.
Of the "good" teams that might be blowing their wad this season? WMU comes to mind. Any time you lose a starting QB there is concern, when you lose one that the entire offense is built around well, that could be huge trouble in 2013.
Question 3: What statistic has been most crucial to your team's success or failure?
Well the defense is not taking the ball away. You can play "bend but eventually break" defense or "Tepper ball" as I am going to start calling it but you can only win that way if you have a knack for generating turnovers.
Buffalo's Defensive secondary gives a ridiculous amount of space to receivers. Some of that is to compensate for a lack of coverage strength and again that might work if UB was taking the ball away.
Instead teams are dinking down the field at 6 yards a pass on us. No big strips or picks this year. Buffalo has just two interceptions and one fumble recovery. Those are putrid numbers!