No, the Mid-American Conference will never be the Big Ten. Maybe one day it'll happen, in 75 years, when alien craft descend, enslave the earth and deem under-recruited yet capable student-athletes to be in charge of the NCAA.
Until then, it's always going to be a midwest second-fiddle. But what a damn likable fiddle it is. It's the type of fiddle that will hang with the larger stringed instruments for as long as possible, perhaps topping them acoustically on occasion, but ultimately lose out because of their inferior (and shorter) strings. But in the end, it's college athletics at a high level, and at a much cheaper price than the premium conferences.
While not the most feared and revered, the MAC is the largest football conference in Division I by volume (13 schools, thanks to Temple, hence the half-star). Some non-revenue sports feature another 13th partial member, but all others have 12 schools across two divisions. Three schools also play Division I hockey in the CCHA.
And so enters the Hustle Belt to celebrate it all. Forget the Rust Belt. With the decline of the automotive industry, this region's crop export is pure, unadulterated teenagers who try hard and mean well. Harvest it. Bottle it. Sell it to families. Re-plant in the spring.
My Qualifications To Blog About The Mid-American Conference
1. I've never played sports well.
2. I understand the difference between Miami University and the University of Miami -- namely, which one came first and therefore shouldn't be subject to the (OH) state clarification.
3. I've lived in three MAC cities: (born in) Toledo, (went to) Bowling Green, (reside in) Ypsilanti.
4. I saw Eastern Michigan alumnus Earl Boykins play basketball when he was just a little ... that is to say, when he was younger.
5. I know that Chuck Ealey (35-0 as a starting quarterback) belongs in the College Football Hall of Fame.
6. I've been to Muncie, Indiana and seen its world famous Jar Museum.
7. This isn't a reason as much as it is a picture of Dan Majerle before he became permanently tan:
8. I slap strangers on the street who say "MAC Conference."
9. Same with those who think Bowling Green State University is in Kentucky.
10. Same with UCF fans. Seriously, what the hell were you thinking when you joined this conference for two years? Did you consult a map? Or consider the cost of airfare?
11. I come from a long line of extremely poignant and societally relevant humor:
12. Ever since entering the real world of 401(k)s and webinars, from the Futon Report to the Toledo Free Press and Blogcritics -- plus anytime I could sneak in mentions on Deadspin -- I've blogged about MAC sports. It's always been a scattershot attempt on my part to cover the conference, but in the spirit of the hustle-based Great Lakes region economy, we'll churn out some of the finest homemade MAC blogging known to hominids.
We'll feature the upsets, the losing streaks, and the standouts that continue playing in the pros. We'll laugh. We'll cry. We'll occasionally bathe. It'll be fun, even if you're not privy to any of the 12.5 teams. This is what we'll do. You're welcome too. And thank you.