Welcome to Rounding The Belt, where we take a look back at the week that was in MAC news. Joining us every week to help us recap will be three of the Hustle Belt's finest writers. This week we have: Justin Kruse (@CoilsWell ), Keith Scheessele (@keithscheessele), and Chris Cullum (@chris21cullum). Without further ado, lets get right into it.
Question 1: The MAC had 8 picks in this years NFL Draft. Whose name will you be hearing every Sunday this fall?
Justin: It is likely by season's end, the average NFL fan will become much more familiar with Jimmie Ward, but in this fantasy football obsessed culture, the answer for me is Dri Archer in Pittsburgh. The Steelers needed to get younger, faster and more dynamic this off-season and Archer offers all of those qualities. He should get his hands on the ball in special teams and can provide a nice complement to Le'Veon Bell on 3rd down or in those vintage Steelers' "special packages". Archer will likely prove to be a nice late round fantasy pickup and eventual fantasy play as the season progresses given the lack of depth at RB in the NFL and the their propensity for injury.
Keith: The only answer here is Khalil Mack. Of course there is no right or wrong answer, but any answer that is not Mack is the wrong answer. There's a reason that there was buzz that he may actually be the number one pick. Jimmie Ward, first round pick of the 49ers, is also too easy of an answer. Of the guys outside of Mack and Ward, in my completely biased opinion, it's Ball State's Jonathan Newsome in Indianapolis. People forget this is a Cardinal who came to Muncie via Ohio State. To get drafted by a team that plays just an hour from where you played college ball is never a bad thing, and Newsome joins an Indianapolis squad that was the oldest team on defense a season ago. Add in the Robert Mathis suspension (which was a fair and just suspension, regardless of what you may have heard) and Newsome has a fantastic opportunity to hear his name early and often next year.
Chris: You guys both have some good points, but I agree with Keith here. The answer is Khalil Mack. Archer will definitely be heard from because, as you said, Pittsburgh needed to add some explosiveness to its offense. The issue with him, though, is that I think it's going to take some time for the Steelers to figure out what to do with him. They'll need to be careful with how they deploy him so he doesn't get snapped in half by some of these defensive specimens roaming the field in the AFC North. Mack, however, is ready to play right now. The Raiders signed some pass rushers in the offseason so offenses won't be able to solely focus on Mack, giving him plenty of room to work with.
Question 2: Is there anything worth buying from the PAC-12's suggested reforms, or you selling it all?
Keith: No, its garbage. The major conferences are not interested in any change that benefits smaller conferences like the MAC. They want to keep all the money among those 60 some odd schools and avoid the occasional ass whoopin' we provide. Washington State, Indiana, Virginia, these schools prefer to take their non-conference beatdowns from other bottom feeders in power conferences, not Ball State.
Justin: What I will buy from the PAC-12 "leaked" letter, is the power conferences are moving full speed ahead towards their own exclusive college football entity apart from the NCAA in same manner. The spread from the haves to the have-nots is only getting larger, and the bottom feeders Keith referenced can continue to flourish off the work of their successful "friends." It's a lot like a group of hot girls at the bar getting all the free drinks and attention they can handle: there are always a couple girls in the group that are the proverbial "big fat friend" or "the grenade."
Indiana Hoosiers and Purdue Boilermakers football are the grenades of the Big Ten, the thing is Jim Delany just falls on the grenade every night when the bar closes and happens to cut them a huge check as well. In the end the MAC cannot play football in a world where a player stipend becomes the norm, a lot of these MAC schools and just getting by as it is. Forcing a school like EMU with their attendance issues to give players a stipend is the beginning of the end for MAC football as we know it.
Chris: Not really. I mean hey, that's great, let's give college athletes a stipend and give them better opportunities to obtain a degree and make student-athletes' lives easier. Anyone who reads a generic news article about this is going to leave thinking "hey, that's nice, they want to help out our athletes!" But the key piece of info is that he reached out only to the big boys of college sports. You can't make "sweeping changes" to the NCAA without including all of the NCAA. Look at all of the major changes these last few years, especially with regards to conference realignment. All of them have been to better serve the "BCS" conferences, everyone else be damned. It's a hollow gesture, nothing more.
Question 3: Did anything stand out to you with the release of the APR Scores? And for a bonus point, what class did you fail in college?
Keith: I was surprised to learn the relative competency of SEC schools. I've already said this in a number of forums, but have you met these people? I grew up in Evansville, Indiana, just across the Ohio River from SEC country. Chris Rock hit the nail on the head. Those are some trailer park living, mayonnaise sandwich eating, John Cougar Mellencamp listening SOBs. Yes, I'm aware that Mellencamp is from Indiana, but you'll be unsurprised to learn he's not really claimed outside of Bloomington. I can reach only one logical conclusion and that is that it's a bogus test, and a poor barometer for eligibility.
I failed Psychology 101, and now I work in the mental health field. I did not attend a class for the first three weeks, rationalizing to my buddies who were in the class that the 2000 Baltimore Ravens lost three in a row during the regular season and still won the Super Bowl. The Ravens did not however drink whisky and coke when they finally did show up. I finished 0-16.
Justin: I cannot believe these numbers are accurate, and where the heck is Steve Kroft from 60 Minutes to barge into some Athletic Director's office and prove they are all bogus (I love when Steve goes combing around the offices of congress in regards to campaign funding or the issue de jour; the receptionist and congress person practically poop their pants when he rolls in cameras in tow). In this era of mass player transfers, one and dones, and coaching changes that lead to a cleaning of the house approach, I will never buy that the schools in the power conferences are performing at such high levels. Coaches and administrators don't want to have to sit out a postseason like Toledo Rockets or Connecticut Huskies in Men's Basketball.
There is too much at stake financially for the athletic department and job security wise for the coaches. It's far easier just to manipulate the numbers in some fashion, make sure a kid transfers in "good standing," or just steer them towards "athlete friendly" academic programs than to face the consequences. Let's get Steve Kroft kicking down the door of Jeremy Foley's office in Gainesville, that's good television.
I never failed a class, took a W in a calculus class my first semester freshman year and picked up the transfer credits with a solid C over the summer at another MAC institute. I also recall an advanced accounting class that was way over my head where the teacher told me if I came every day he would give me a D+. I was on time every day, read the newspaper in class (this is well before your iPhones and iPads kids) got my D+ and graduated the next semester.
Chris: I think it's really encouraging to see that, as our article said, very few teams in the MAC are in danger of a postseason ban in the near future. Looking ahead, that's a really good sign for the future of MAC sports. If a kid has a choice of going to a bigger school and riding the pine or coming to a MAC school with a chance to play and get a good education, that puts our schools in a good position, right? No, that isn't going to sway kids from going to an Alabama or an Ohio State, but more mid-tier prospects could look at the MAC as a way to get on the field quicker and end up better prepared for a life after sports.
Did I ever fail a class? C'mon man, this place is like Shawshank. This is Hustle Belt. Haven't you heard? Everyone in here is a straight A student.
Question 4: MAC Baseball finishes their conference tournament this weekend. Who's winning and who's arms are falling off?
Keith: It's the Ball State Cardinals and it's the Ball State Cardinals...and it's the Ball State Cardinals. And if you thought I would answer otherwise, I'm shocked. Regarding the pitch count, throwing 150-200 pitches is asinine, but I do think, in a lot of circumstances, pitch counts are weighed with too much importance. I'm a season ticket holder for the Angels, and everyone in Section 427 can tell you when Scioscia is going to a make a change. He's a slave to pitch counts, and if you know of the Angel bullpen, you'll know that's often not met with success. If you're at 100 pitches, 150 may kill you. 105 won't.
Chris: Oh boy, you're really testing me with this one. I'm going to say the Miami Redhawks because I'm a graduate, thus an unabashed homer and I feel obligated to put my faith into the institution that put so much faith in me (and took all of my money). Love and Honor!
Justin: Can I pass on a question? The last MAC baseball I watched was when the Kent State Golden Flashes made a run to the Conference World Series. I've driven by the stadium in Avon, OH, which will host the tournament, so I got that going for me, which is nice!
Question 5: Final question to end this "MAC and Forth" conversation. If you could use any MAC-related pun, what would it be? Lights, Camera, MACtion:
Keith: "sMACk My Bitch Up". Is our audience old enough to remember Prodigy's 1997 love ballad? It's applicable with baseball's conference tournament as well. "Change my pitch up, sMACk my bitch up."
Justin: Since I remember with great fondness the mid-90's era of MAC Basketball, which, for the record, was TOTALLY radical and filled with NBA players: I would like to refer to that period as "MAC to the Future."
Chris: The first thing that popped into my head was "Return of the MAC," so I ventured over to Wikipedia to see where the reference came from. That led me to read about the East Coast/West Coast rap feud of the 1990's. This has been a fruitless yet enlightening endeavor.
Thanks to all of this week's guests on Round the Belt. Join us next week where we discuss the MAC's decision to be the first conference to legalize hunting humans for sport, and all the rest of the week in MAC.