The Mid-American Conference has the technology. They have the videostreams. They charge $50 a year for you to view it all. But when it comes to finding the highlights ... whoa, hey big dreamer.
Two weeks ago, it was Trevor Cook getting flipped on a trick play he wasn't supposed to participate in, followed by Zac Dysert's game-winning touchdown aided by poor coverage. Later in the day, OHIO's Paul Hershey ceremoniously vaulted over a defender on a trick special teams play. And then last week, it was Jerry Gates who scored on a I'm-not-really-down touchdown. There was also Travonte Boles who had the 1-yard interception return for touchdown for WMU against Akron. Miami's Nick Harwell had the 81-yard reception which he accidentally dropped into the endzone for a touchback. And MiQuale Lewis apparently had a similar play in the final minutes of last week's Ball State-Toledo where he mysteriously dropped the ball before going into the end zone. So, a mix of wonderful, blunderful, and memorable plays.
All great, water-cooler-grade plays. But the problem is ... sweet heavens, nobody is seeing any of this.
Well, briefly they are. Gates' and Boles' plays were on SportsCenter last Saturday. But ESPN's always been good about owning huge amounts of game film, and doling them out to the peasants at will.
I can point my laptop camera to my TV all day until the nosy peeping neighbors start calling the insane asylum. But that can only glean so much, Plus, the quality won't be up to par, believe me. (you saw the Miami polecat play video, right? They weren't literally on a diagonal slope.)
Perhaps it's just in my first year of watching the 13 teams closer than I ever havein my life, but there've been some extremely quirky and game-changing plays in the MAC this year. I've just listed a season's worth of kooky highlights in two weeks. College football fans would love to see this, because it doesn't matter if it's Alabama or Eastern Michigan. A good catch is a good catch.
But your standard highlight reel of dazzling plays usually comes from the power conferences. We all know there are some insane catches, runs, throws, hits, and miscellany in the hustle belt. But they (air quotes referring to the national media/fans) don't know it. Out of sight, out of mind.
I have noticed that some of the school's athletic websites will put together some hard-to-watch-and-impossible-to-embed highlight videos of the most recent game. But it's only the great plays made by that school. When Akron got manhandled by WMU, it was all of Akron positive highlights. Yikes. A couple field goals, some tackles for loss, and that fumble-return-for-touchdown. That's all, Zips!
These are just unsolicited ideas from a conference struggling to maintain its identity in the national scope:
1. A YouTube channel. Well, that's pretty easy to set up. It takes about 30 seconds to fill out the form, and maybe another 5 minutes to upload some graphics. Highlights! Highlights! Highlights!
2. A short highlight show. It'd take a little more elbow grease to put this together, but thanks to the technological advances on this crazy floating space rock, a television station is not needed — although, hey, that'd help. Just stream the show live. Solicit requests from fans on what highlights to show, and show 'em. Hire some analysts to discuss the conference the way the Big Ten Conference gets all-inclusive about their own 11-soon-to-be-12.
And it doesn't have to be just football, either. If they were to talk about women's basketball, soccer, volleyball, and show the highlights ... I'd watch. There's enough cameras out there now. This stuff is all on tape. Hell, they sell an All-MACcess volleyball package. (!!!) Don't just throw the media out there and hope people watch it. Hype it up with a show that discusses it.
3. Profit. NO QUESTION MARKS NEEDED. Exposure is the key, and getting stuff out there on the Internet is a cheap alternative. The more people (including those schools' students and alumni) that see these highlights, the more interested they'll be in their team. It might even keep the attention of fans who live far away from their alma mater which is currently 2-6.