Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE
If anybody in the MAC knows how to draw quality opponents, it's Toledo, who's done it 12 times since the inception of the BCS. On Saturday they host undefeated Cincinnati.
The Blade had a neat story today, looking at how well Toledo and athletic director Mike O'Brien has been able to schedule so many scheduled BCS AQ conference home opponents. It's a legacy term but still means something because the BCS funnels money to the six power conferences, who pass it onto mid-majors in exchange for home wins, but UT still gets to bring in quality Glass Bowl opponents.
Ryan Autullo lists the total by number of seasons, noting they had 10 years with a BCS home opponent. I'll go by total number of games since 1997, when the term was invented, and go down the entire MAC:
|Toledo||12||Cincinnati, Arizona, Colorado, Purdue (2), Iowa State
Kansas, Temple (2), Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Syracuse
|Miami (OH)||8||Cincinnati (4), Vanderbilt, Syracuse, Northwestern, Iowa|
|Buffalo||7||Connecticut, Pittsburgh (2), Baylor, Rutgers (2), Syracuse|
|Northern Illinois||5||Kansas, Maryland, Wake Forest, Kansas State, Iowa State
|Ball State||4||South Florida, Indiana, Boston College, Missouri|
|Western Michigan||4||Connecticut, Indiana, Virginia, Virginia Tech|
|Ohio||4||Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Iowa State|
|Bowling Green||4||Minnesota, Missouri, Temple, Pittsburgh|
|Akron||4||Syracuse, Indiana, Cincinnati, Temple|
|Central Michigan||3||Michigan State, Boston College, Indiana|
|Kent State||2||Iowa State, Minnesota|
Note: Temple is included when they were in the Big East, if that really counts.
I'm not counting "home games at neutral sites," such as Cleveland Browns Stadium, because why would you? This also omits quality opponents like Boise State because they're sadly in the same boat, grasping with finding teams who want to play them.
Obviously Miami's numbers are inflated because of their annual Cincy game. It helped that Buffalo is geographically more distant from the Big Ten, notorious for getting the schedule their way, and ex-athletic director Warde Manuel being buddy-buddy with the Big East. Beyond that, four home games against BCS AQ teams in a 15-year span is about one per graduating class.
Eastern Michigan ... well, they're going to get Michigan State in a few years, so there's hope.
The whole art of putting together an NCAA schedule — jeez, basketball has to be harder since there's more games — is probably something incredibly fascinating and involves a degree of used car salesmanship, but we've seen up front how the big teams try to get three or four "easy wins" out of MAC, Sun Belt and FCS opponents. As we approach a new era of a playoff system, teams like Ohio State have made it known they're going to schedule fewer MAC opponents, but perhaps playing at a Glass Bowl or Peden Stadium might be more of a reward for these teams, because winning in Toledo is perhaps more impressive than, say, beating Northwestern at home.
Whatever O'Brien is doing, hey, maybe he oughta to share his secret with the conference. Maybe there's a secret Masonic word that needs to be uttered during negotiations.