It's been a hectic few weeks here at Hustle Belt, and amid the Top 68 player countdown, my own whirlwind tour of Midwest "cities", and the passing of the Hustle Belt (see what I did there?) I sort of lost track of this. So, without further adieu, let's hop to it.
Our first question comes from Eagle Nation, and it's about some MAC football!
Well, first let me share a little anecdote of my run in with Mr. English at MAC Media Day this summer. It's the end of the day, we're all heading to the third floor of Ford Field to get our grub on. Mr. English and his entourage head to the elevator, and me and my crew rush to squeeze in behind them. Instantly Mr. English pushes the "close door" button, despite the fact that others are trying to get on behind us. The people get on, but not before Mr. English proceeds to push the button again. This repeats a few times, with the doors starting to clamp close on people as their halfway in the elevator. All the time Mr. English kept mashing the button, as if nothing was happening. Finally people quit trying to squeeze in, and I learned a valuable lesson: When Ron English is hungry, don't hold him up, or risk having elevator doors slam shut on you.
Now that story time is over, I'm going to call an audible and dish this off to our resident EMU expert, Mr. Alex Alvarado:
I am not @BryanMVance, but I can surely answer this question for him since he has other questions in the Hustle Bag to get to. It seems like every poll out there has EMU ranked dead last in the MAC West, and that's something to be weary of. It seems like the team has improved as a unit over the last 365 days, but still not any better than UMass or Akron. Even with all of the experience that players on both sides of the ball will have, getting all of their first game butterflies out of the way last year, it doesn't shake the fact that there are only five home games this season, and none of those games are in back-to-back weeks.
I don't care if you're EMU or 'Bama, a schedule like that can be tough on anybody. Wins on your home field, in front of your classmates and fans, are pivotal to every team's success. Everybody's going to chalk this team up starting 1-2 (beat Howard, loss at Penn State & Rutgers), and the rest of their schedule is just really tough.
Home games against Ball State, Ohio, Western Michigan, and BGSU, it's hard to truly expect wins over three teams that are in huge contention to win the MAC East. However, it's the MAC, which means nobody is safe and every school is just an upset or two away from playing in December.
As far as the Michigan MAC goes, Eastern doesn't have to do too much to keep the trophy in Ypsilanti for a third year in a row. They could go on a clean sweep beating both the Broncos (home: Nov. 9) and Chippewas (away: Nov. 29), but the easier other route they could take is just to make sure they beat the winner of "The Battle of the Cannon" (at WMU: Nov. 16). Which is the worst name you could ever give for a rivalry game, but that's an argument for later.
"So can the Eagles do better than last year?"
"Will they win the Michigan MAC again?"
I don't see why not.
They won it last year, and WMU was their only in-conference victory.
"With all of the changes coach Ron English has made, will they make it to their first bowl game since 1987?"
Thanks, Alex. Personally, I think WMU will win the MAC Michigan title (can we make a trophy for this?).
Next up, with all these fanciful new uniforms being debuted around the MAC (I'm looking at you Miami) some fans are feeling left out.
Time for an admission. I'm kind of a sucker for the whole #UniWatch craze. There's something about crisp new uniforms, and bold new looks that get's me excited, even if I know it's all ridiculous marketing crap. When it comes to the MAC, it seems like our conference has long been supporters of a more classic look. Which is excellent, because it fits the MAC. But with Miami, WMU, and to an extent Buffalo, all debuting new uniforms, the MAC seems to have caught the futuristic uniform bug.
When it comes to NIU, the Huskies have one of the more classic color schemes in college football. Red and black just go great together, especially on the gridiron. While I'll agree that NIU's digs tend to be more on the boring side, nothing is worse than Toledo's jersey's with their GIGANTIC numbers. While NIU's jersey's may be "boring" they're not bad. Sometimes, boring is a good thing.
The short answer is yes. As of right now, the MAC is down to just two tie-in bowl games after this season: The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and the GoDaddy.com Bowl. The B1G decided to swoop in and steal the show, so while the folks behind the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl seem optimistic that they'll find a new host site, I doubt they find it in time for the MAC to renew a deal with the bowl.
Now for some good news though. During the 2013 MAC Media Day commissioner Jon Steinbrecher spent some time addressing the conference's future bowl plans. The commissioner said the conference is currently in negotiations to add two or three more primary bowls to join the two they currently have deals with. Over the past few seasons the MAC has averaged six bowl-eligible teams, so expect to see three more added.
I won't even try to predict which bowls could be possible fits, other than expect one to be a tie-in with Conference USA based off of geography and the ties to the MAC (Marshall...traitors).
Do you have a question about the MAC? Send it to us by tweeting it to us @HustleBelt, or using the hashtag #HustleBag, and we'll answer them in our Hustle Bag feature.