MAC Commissioner: We Don’t Support Paying Student-Athletes

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The media day festivities officially began around noon Wednesday as Mid-American Conference commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher opened with his ‘State of the MAC” address. Here were some of the most interesting takeaways from the address:

-As college football moves into the playoff era, Steinbrecher touched on what the BCS did for the MAC, stating it brought relevance and scrutiny to the conference, as well as an increase in bowl participation.

-The MAC has five primary bowl tie-ins for the upcoming season, which he said is solid for the conference. As of now, the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the MAC will alternate in the bowl for the next four years. The picking order for the other four tie-ins – the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, and the new Bahamas Bowl and Boca Raton Bowl – hasn’t been decided yet.

-He supports the new NCAA governance model, which includes re-defining the "grant-in-aid," as it would include the full cost of attendance. Also wants to the new governance to “focus on issues such as the number of hours students devote to their sports. I’m not sure we do a very good job of enforcing the existing 20-hour rule.”

The 20-hour rule states that athletes are not allowed to devote more than 20 hours per week towards their sport.

-Because of the new governance, Steinbrecher said the MAC does not support the notion of paying student athletes, “as it is inconsistent with the collegiate model."

-Steinbrecher did not want to comment on the MAC’s ongoing negotiations with ESPN on an updated TV contract.

“I don’t have an update at this time, and when we do we’ll let you know.”

-He would not support a split of the "Power 5" conferences and the "Group Of 5." In that model, a champion would be chosen for each of the groups.

“We like the challenges in front of us, and we love the bowl system,” Steinbrecher said.

New Era For Bricks Battle

Ohio and Miami (OH) have played each other since 1908 in one of college football's longest-tenured rivalries.

New Miami head coach Chuck Martin has only been atop the RedHawks program for a few months, but he already knows the importance of the game for both teams.

“It’s huge to the fans,” Martin said. “I’ve been a part of many rivalry games before, and they’re always the most fun games of the year. They go all 365 days because you get the bragging rights. There are so many families that are tied to both places that it only intensifies the rivalry. It’s your typical, awesome college football rivalry.”

Overall, Miami still has the upper hand in the rivalry, with a 52-36-2 record against Ohio, although the ‘Cats have dominated lately, winning seven of the last eight, including six in a row from 2006-2011.

Miami ended the streak in Oxford in 2012, when the RedHawks ended Ohio’s hopes of an undefeated season with a 23-20 victory. Miami junior linebacker Kent Kern is one of several players that Martin will depend on to take back the bragging rights.

“That was my freshman year when we finally beat OU,” Kern said. “It was definitely the highlight of my freshman season and maybe my career so far. Coming back home to Yager Stadium this year for the last game of the season, it’s definitely a big one for us.” 

The ‘Cats and RedHawks will meet for the 91st time on November 25. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.

Early Signing Period?

A hot topic around college football recently has been whether or not to develop an early signing period for some student-athletes. It is an especially popular idea in the MAC, as many coaches could benefit from losing athletes to bigger schools as the period goes on.

One coach in particular who is in favor of it is Kent State’s Paul Haynes.

“Most guys who are already committed at that point have already been on campus four or five times with unofficial visits and camps, so they know what they want,” Haynes said. “You won’t have schools signing 20 guys in this early period, it would most likely be four or five on average.”

Steinbrecher is also in favor of an early signing period, but did point out a few issues that would have to be worked out, including the firmness of the commitments.

“Most commitments at this time haven’t had official visits yet,” he said. “These are commitments made on unofficial visits and such. So would this mean we have to move the recruiting calendar back into their junior year when we’ve tried to take it out of there completely?”

Steinbrecher finished by saying he and some other conference officials will be working throughout the fall to put an early signing plan together to present at the American Football Coaches Association convention in January. They would then present a recommendation in the spring.