Published Thu, Nov 10, 2011 4:32 pm Dateline
10. Keep an Eye on the Other Side
It’s pretty much time to give up watching the MAC East. Its waywardness far exceeds the effort it would take to consider the possible scenarios to dethrone Ohio from atop that half of the league. Essentially, Ohio can afford to drop a game to either Central Michigan or Bowling Green but losing both would be dangerous. This would possibly set up a winner-take-all game between Ohio and Miami for the MAC East title (and pretty much a bowl bid).
Instead of monitoring every Miami, BGSU, and Temple game from here on out, go ahead and assume Ohio will win the MAC East. Watch the highflying MAC West and size up our potential opponent (Toledo, Western Michigan or Northern Illinois). Disclaimer: Don’t expect to see any tackling, and you’ll just eat it up.
I’ll take my MAC musings a step further. I hereby theorize that there is no such thing as an upset within the MAC this year. All records, all stats, and most players are wildly irrelevant—especially in the MAC East. And to the dissenting voice that screams, “What if Akron beats, well, anyone in the MAC?” I kindly ask you to repeat that to yourself in the form of a theoretically factual statement. Then, tell me you didn’t laugh. The only dispute now is whether the biggest oxymoron of the paragraph was the phrase “theoretically factual” or the usage of the action verb “beats” with the subject Akron.
9. Bowl Possibilities
Here’s the thing about being in the MAC. The bowl bids aren’t going to be sexy. If last years empty and relatively bead-less Superdome was any indication to Bobcat fans, the MAC doesn’t exactly get the prime pick bowl game wise. This won’t be Prince William and Kate Middleton getting married at Westminster Abbey. It would be more like Chelsea Clinton and that investment banker getting divorced in a Westchester alley.
There are three conceivable possibilities for the Bobcats:
1. The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl- This game used to be known as the Humanitarian Bowl before kindness and human rights ethics were apparently replaced by corporate sponsorships and locally grown vegetables in the Bowl world. Boise State used to appear in this bowl on their home turf every once in a while. Thank God they won’t be this year. Prepare to be generally confused by two things if the Cats land in this one—Bobcat green running around on blue turf and, as usual, the intuition behind and overall execution of the pistol offense.
2. The Little Caesars Bowl- The elephant in the room here is that the game is sponsored by everyone’s favorite $5 ready-made pizza chain. That should say enough. There are pros and cons to this. One plus is that it is at state-of-the-art Ford Field. A con would be that state-of-the-art Ford Field is in Detroit. Another positive is that Ohio would square off against a Big Ten team giving them a chance to pull out a landmark program win. The backside to that is that any bowl win would be landmark for this program, so it would be easier to do it in bowl game number three…..
3. Godaddy.com Bowl- Alas, another crack at the Sun Belt’s finest could be in store. For those of you who laugh when you hear that Ohio could square off against a Sun Belt team, put yourself in the shoes of a student at a Sun Belt school. I’m sure the MAC sounds just as comical. One plus (or minus) in this one is that we will likely be exposed to several commercials featuring hit-or-miss Godaddy.com sponsored Danica Patrick.
8. Division of Student Affairs
Yes, our beloved Division of Student Affairs is holding a watch party for tonight’s Central Michigan game. Around a hundred students get free food, soda, and the opportunity to mingle with SA staff. The event will be held at Broney’s, effectively limiting the Thursday night bar options for several students. It seems to be the perfect event to hold at the lounge-to-be on the first floor of Baker Center. However, Broney’s may lose business over this one. Something tells me the average student wouldn’t be terribly comfortable throwing back a few brews in the presence of Vice President of Student Affairs Kent J. Smith.
7. Don’t Forget About Our Guest!
With big conference realignment shaking up the college football world don’t lose sight of the fact that the MAC is a willful participant in the hoopla. In 2012 we welcome UMass to the MAC for football only. The minutemen are 5-4 in FCS play this year including a crushing loss in the “Colonial Clash” against New Hampshire. If I were MAC commissioner, I would roll out the welcome mat by giving them a week one matchup with Akron next year. An upset to start the year would be an exhilarating way to show off the new and improved MAC. That is if Akron can pull it off of course. Speaking of…….
6. The Cruelest Rivalry in College Athletics
Kent State versus Akron has to be the cruelest rivalry at the division one level….on the fans. For the longest time this year it looked like this weeks battle was going to be the most mediocre competitive event since the Iraqi parliamentary election. However, the Golden Flashes have ripped through two straight MAC opponents and have all but assured whatever self-deprecating football fans watch this (i.e. me) that the primary reason this will be the most revolting football game of 2011 is because Akron is playing in it.
My prediction: Buffalo 35, Akron 17 (Yea, that’s right. I predicted that Akron will lose next weeks game this Saturday. That’s how bad they have been.)
5. Akron is not Entirely Worthless
Wednesday night Akron’s basketball team (who won the MAC in 2010-2011) beat SEC opponent Mississippi State on the road. Early on Akron looks like the class of the MAC. By no means should they be going crazy in the “330,” though, because if you thought MAC football was unruly and unpredictable, just wait for basketball.
4. You Are Watching the Best Ever Right Now
In all seriousness we should be appreciating this Ohio football team for the remainder of the season—no matter how many games there will be. The bottom line is that we may be watching the best kicker, wide receiver, and quarterback in Ohio football history. And an argument making Noah Keller one of the best linebackers is not far-fetched at all.
There is no need to tell me that Southeast Ohio doesn’t grow quarterbacks alongside paw-paws (not impressed with those and the local argument isn’t enough). Tyler Tettleton is on pace for an extraordinary season statistically, and with two bright years ahead of him in this program, the best is probably yet to come.
Matt Weller has already kicked his way into Bobcat lore. If we have a close contest in Detroit’s kicker-friendly dome later this year, I like our chances with Weller on our sideline. And it should go without saying that Lavon Brazill has been a monstar (not an error; he has literally looked like the super humans from Space Jam at times this year). Brazill has already surpassed the seemingly immortal Taylor Price in career receptions, and quite frankly he is making it apparent that the fate of this team at the end of the year will depend on his performance.
3. Exhibition for Fans and Reporters
Ohio recently won an exhibition basketball game against Division-2 Mercyhurst by 19 points. With around six minutes left in the game Ohio was only up three, and reporters/fans were aghast on Twitter about the possibility of Mercyhurst competing with their beloved Bobcats.
This wasn’t a Kardashian divorce. It wasn’t a dictator getting dethroned. It wasn’t even a Jersey Shore fistfight. It was a basketball game. And it wasn’t a good one. Find me one player, coach, or team at any level of college basketball that is 100 percent satisfied with how they are playing right now at the beginning of the season. Until then, let’s just ease up on the freakout tweets.
2. Central Michigan the Next Buffalo?
Don’t they have Buffalo written all over them? They are 2-4 in the MAC and 3-7 overall. The trip is long, and the game lacks meaning on surface level. This frightened me about Buffalo, and that matchup resulted in a loss. The sad reality is that this would be a classic Solich era loss. For Solich to really come into his own and cement his legacy in Athens he needs to win these seemingly inconsequential games consistently. Well, a bowl win would be nice too. But seriously….
1. We Should be Eternally Grateful to Have Frank Solich in Athens
Listen, this guy had no conceivable reason to drop everything (including any ego he may have had) and come to Athens to build a program at Ohio. Think about these things from his past at Nebraska and compare them to his situation in Athens.
1. In Nebraska he was the head coach of the only notable football team in the state. He was kingpin, a disciple of the legendary Tom Osborne. The coach of Nebraska football makes the governor of Nebraska look like an indentured servant in the public eye—especially when he is successful.
In Athens, Solich competes with several dominant football interests. Of course, Ohio State has a rabid fan base across the state. Solich came in at the height of Jim Tressel’s reign. Cincinnati has even grown into a stalwart with its recent BCS trips. Not to mention the fact that Ohio has two professional teams, a handful of MAC teams, and one of the best Division-3 programs ever (Mount Union).
2. At Nebraska, Solich coached and won the Fiesta Bowl. The biggest Fiesta Solich sees in Athens is called Halloween.
3. Solich coached a Heisman winner at Nebraska (Eric Crouch). I hate to go all Outkast on you guys, but "I’m sorry Boo Jackson, Crouch was for real." Recruiting has to be infinitely more difficult for Solich here than in the Big 12.
4. Solich coached in the national championship game at the Rose Bowl. Unless they come up with a blockbuster parade before the Potato or Little Caesars bowl, he will never see anything close to that scene again.
This never happens in MAC football. It is always the other way around. A bright coach comes up in the conference and leaves for bigger and better things. Solich was that bigger and better thing, and for him to drop it all (he could have easily been an assistant at a big program) and come to Ohio is something for which we should be thankful.