Realignment Seems to be settling on WKU and one other for the MAC, if the MAC expands. I still think the other should be MTSU, for a lot of reasons.
First, if you’re adding WKU then another school that’s within 100 miles of WKU makes a lot of sense. Both for the existing MAC members who’s non-revenue sports will have a pair of schools that can serve as a single road trip which means the addition will do as little damage to our travel budgets as is possible.
Second, they already hate each other... A lot.. Their annual football game is literally called “100 miles of hate”. How can you NOT love a pair of school who are that set as rivals. They’ve met on the gridiron 70 times, and it’s not getting old.
The MAC is built, largely, on rivaly. It’s one of the things I think Buffalo kind of misses out on.
- Akron / Kent
- Directional Michigan
- Bowling Green / Toledo
- Miami / Ohio
- Western Kentucky / Middle Tenessee
- Ball State / NIU
Now Buffalo’s done it’s best elbowing in a seat at the table with Ohio in football and Akron in hoops. Adding WKU and MTSU does nothing for the Bulls, in terms of rivals, but it would be nice to have them in the conference.
Third, they are just plain the best overall athletic departments that were in CUSA. Better than Marshall, better than ODU, better than anyone.
Since 2015 they are numbers 1 & 2 in total conference titles across all sports.
Fourth, The move would bulge the MAC, slightly, in a good direction for recruiting. Kentucky and Tennessee are not amazing recruiting states, but they are decent. But they do put your conference at the border of very solid southern recruiting grounds.
One thing that also might get lost here is that this stretch also does not put the MAC in an “overlap” with any other G5 conference. MTSU and Memphis are close-ish, sharing a state, but really while the Sun-Belt, American Conference, and Conference USA (if it survives) all fight for the same turf, the MAC would be the sole G5 conference in what’s basically a triangle that goes from Buffalo to Chicago, to Nashville.
So what about Football:
I’m going to try to look at football and hoops this week, to see how they would lift the MAC. First Football.
It’s hard to do a straight-up comparison but we can look at what the teams have accomplished. I put together a composite ranking of various achievements since 2010
- Wins per seasons
- Division Titles
- Conference Titles
- Bowl Invitations
- Bowl Wins
- Finish the season AP ranked
- Getting the G5 CFP game slot
As you can see, WKU is very strong, they have had a decade that’s close to rivaling Northern Illinois who is easily the class of the MAC from 2010-2020. They’ve been ranked, they’ve been to seven bowl games and won a majority of them. Finally, they have won their division, and their conference twice.
MTSU’s not been as amazing, but they have certainly held their own. They are averaging six wins per year, they’ve been to a half dozen bowls, but have struggled to win them. Overall a “middle of the pack” member of the conference.
What about divisions:
My initial thoughts in this were to pull Toledo over to the East, and put the new guys in the MAC West. But through conversations, I’ve had with others the optimal solution would seem to be sliding Bowling Green to the MAC West, and bringing the new guys into the East.
Either arrangement would do a lot to balance out MAC football. But the Bowling Green to the West does so a little bit more.
With the “Falcons to the West” model you have
MAC East - WKU (2), Ohio (3), Buffalo (6), MTSU (7), Akron (13), Kent(12), Miami(11)
MAC West - NIU (1), Toledo (4), WMU (5), CMU (8), BSU (9), Bowling Green (10), EMU (14)
The MAC East would still be a bit softer on the bottom, but at the top you have pretty decent parity among the top four football programs.