1.) As we begin to actually move to conference play, what have you learned about your team through their non-conference schedule? More importantly, in what ways would you like to see your non-conference schedule improve or change in future years?
(As a WMU fan) - This was a very hard non-conference season. 3 Big Ten road games weren't easy to watch (including that shelling by Iowa of all teams last weekend). But add the insult to injury in the home loss to FCS weakling Nicholls, and you have a disastrous September. The Broncos can't stop the run, P.J. Fleck it seems is struggling to keep his players motivated at times, and the offense is just plain (what the Spanish call) "el terrible".
Obviously, the mark against Nicholls still stands, but Bronco fans everywhere have been calling for a easier non-conference schedule for the past couple seasons. Last year saw the Broncos play EIU (that same team that gave NIU fits), 2 Big Ten teams (weaker teams, but still), and UConn. This year got worse. Payday games are seemingly hurting the fanbase by adding losses before the MAC games even start and hurting morale.
An idea schedule in my mind would be something along the lines of 1 "payday game", 1 "mid-major" game, 1 FCS team, and an alternating wild-card of a payday game and a mid-major game. Then you have 3 pay-days every other year and get 2 should-be wins, and 3 good match-ups. Obviously though, it takes money to run these programs, and WMU is struggling for some. We won't see this schedule any time soon.
2.) Let's chat for a minute about conference rivals. Allegedly we all have them, and we all hate them. What have you learned about your rivals and do they worry you for your team's success this year and beyond?
OK, so I shouldn't be laughing because WMU is 0-4, but EMU and CMU are both 1-3 with close wins (but wins nonetheless) against FCS foes. Obviously, this is perfect for WMU fans because despite a down year, the two rivals are also having down seasons (or just normal for EMU) and the Broncos still should match-up well against the two. Cooper Rush has looked decent at QB, but the loss of Zurlon Tipton makes the Chips much less scary. EMU is still EMU and doesn't look to change going forward.
Obviously next year will be interesting with a decent amount of turnover on the Bronco offense and defense, but a returning line and a stacked WR corps should help whoever is at QB succeed and lead "the turnaround". CMU and WMU will get better. EMU? I'm not so sure.
3.) In terms of coaching, the only consistent thing for the MAC is the instability in the coaching ranks. Who do you feel is most likely to move up to greener pastures after this season? More importantly which coach has their office locks changed and their personal effects mailed home at the end of the season?
The obvious choice for "promotion" is Pete Lembo. The turnaround he's done at Ball State is incredible, and he's running a great offense there. Barring a stumble down the MAC stretch, he should be movin' on up. I also like Matt Campbell as a possible jumper with a dark-horse in Dave Clawson. Clawson was decent at the FCS level, and has BGSU playing solid in the shadows of the MAC West and Toledo.
As for coaches losing their jobs, you immediately look at Ron English. Things aren't looking good for EMU and he's been there far too long to not have success. He's already toast barring a huge mid-season run. Charley Molnar and Dan Enos (yes, even with that extension) also are feeling the heat, but should stay. Terry Bowden can be lumped in there too, but needs to show improvement against teams not named Michigan.
4.) Rank 'em. Worst to first.
8. Kent State
4. Ball State