MAC Commissioner Sets Eyes On Future At Media Day

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The future was the topic of choice Tuesday at Ford Field in Detroit as the Mid-American Conference hosted its annual MAC Media Day event. While the teams were there to talk about their upcoming seasons, the conference’s message took on a much more significant tone, often focusing on issues in regards to the future of the conference and college football as a whole.

Addressing many of the current top problems plaguing college football, MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher laid out his plans for the conference’s future in his ‘State of the MAC’ address.

Despite the recent growth of teams at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level, and the recent trend of conference realignment, Steinbrecher made it clear that expansion is not in the cards for his conference right now.

“I like our 13,” Steinbrecher said. “You grow your conference for two reasons: You do it to survive, or you do it to get better. We have the luxury of being able to be deliberate.”

But while adding members isn’t in the MAC’s current plans for the future, he said that adding more bowl games is.

Currently the conference is down to just two primary bowls for the 2013 football season—the Bowl and the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl—and Steinbrecher said that the goal is to add two or three more primary bowl tie-ins by the 2014 season.

Player safety was also a key component of the conference’s plans for the future, with the commissioner focusing on working on changing the culture of hitting in his conference; but the biggest topic of the day was the issue of compensating student-athletes.

 “I think we’ve recognized there’s an issue here. We’ve got to stop kicking the can down the road,” Steinbrecher said. “We’ve got to sit down and figure out a solution that is viable.”

But Steinbrecher couldn’t offer specifics on a plan (besides his personal preference for a need-based system), or give any sort of time table for when fans should expect a solution.

Ohio head coach Frank Solich also weighed in on the topic, acknowledging the complex nature of the issue.

“I’m not sure where I stand,” Solich said. “I think more information needs to come out on it.”

“There’s a lot of people that will jump on a bandwagon about getting something done, but bringing it all together and seeing what the positives are, and what the consequences are, obviously you need to dig into that,” Solich added.

Though the topic of possible player compensation is not an issue that just the MAC faces, Steinbrecher says it is further complicated by the tighter financial restraints on the MAC and its members, compared to larger conferences.