As part of an ongoing way to network with each other, the MAC Blogger Roundtable is open for session. All matters MAC will be discussed, as long as they're interesting. The questions this week are from FalconBlog.
1. There was an excellent article in Grantland about "paycheck" games. The author, Michael Weinreb, makes a couple interesting points that I'd like the group's reaction to. First:
"There used to be little difference between a season opener against Toledo and a season opener against Eastern Kentucky, but that's not true anymore. The gulf between the Mid-American Conference and the Big Ten has narrowed to the point that I'm starting to think the entire Leaders division should be relegated to the MAC West."
Great question, and the answer is no, no, no, no, no. Eastern Michigan lost to Purdue by 38 points. Purdue doesn't beat people by 38 points. It's a bit of hyperbole by Weinreb to say that either of our divisions caught up with a power-conference one. Now, can the MAC's three best teams beat the Big Ten's worst four? Give me OHIO, NIU and Toledo against Indiana, Minnesota, and Penn State. I would watch those games, they would be competitive, and the MAC would win more.
2. Secondly, his point is that the advent of a playoff will make paycheck games a thing of the past. Do you agree and how will the advent of a playoff impact the MAC?
I think these games still serve as value to AQ conference teams more than they realize. Ohio State can play a B-minus game and still beat the Miami RedHawks by a huge margin. They can work out the kinks and prepare themselves for larger-scale tests. They may not play two or three of these games — maybe just one — but one might be enough.
3. Is MAC football stronger than it was three years ago? Is it as strong as it was in the Marshall/Rothlisberger era?
Top-to-bottom I would say this hasn't changed much over the years. The noticeable difference is number of good teams at the top, and three years ago there weren't many outside Central Michigan. And I don't think you're going to see a class of great times like we did in 2003 for some time. Miami, Marshall, BGSU, NIU, Toledo and even Akron all had the ability to beat top-25-talent teams. What we are better at, however, is opportunity to play teams slightly better, and the recent bowl record is reflecting that.
In terms of better teams, no the MAC is not better than they were 10 year ago. But especially factoring in realignmentpocalypse, they are in better shape.