The first post on this topic created much controversy and stirred a lot of discussion and some related side-issues. Almost everyone that commented on here or on twitter has experienced this invasion of other schools into the MAC whether it was seeing jerseys on the campus or at the games. I had only heard of this happening at the Ohio schools prior to my post, but commenters from the Michigan schools, Northern Illinois, Ball State, and Buffalo all chimed in with their experience.
A lot of people took the post as some short of shot at the MAC, but that is not the case at all. Yes, I am aware of the arrogance and disrespect the Big Ten fans and the media have given the MAC over the years and it angers me just as much as the rest of us. Anyone born with taste buds knows a Toledo - Kent State match up is going to be a better game than Northwestern - Illinois.
Let's dissect some of the issues that arose from the last post:
Can you have two favorite teams?
This was the general theme and question of the first post and caused some dissension from both the Hustle Belt writers and our commenters. Many people have the thought process that you should root for your school and only your school while others believe you can have multiple favorite teams. I was in the latter group and while I cringe at every Twitter bio that says "#HEAT #LAKERS", I believe the college teams can exist in separate universes the majority of the time. I live with the arrogance of the Big Ten fans and spend most of my time defending the MAC to the B1G snobs. I hate Kirk Herbstreit more as a MAC fan than I enjoy him as a Buckeye fan. Yet, I still haven't given up on the Buckeyes and only hate one less Big Ten team than the rest of you. The MAC has grown a lot in the past six years and we continue to love our conference more and more with each accomplishment and each game.
Can you root against your school?
We're not really in the business of telling you how to be a fan or who to root for and I don't really think you can tell yourself who to root for. As the game goes on, you'll find yourself pulling for one team or the other when the ball is up in the air whether it's your alumni or the team you grew up with. I admitted that I wanted the Buckeyes to win when they met the Zips in 2007, but it's not exactly my recommendation.
At the time of the Ohio State-Akron match up from the first post, I was a freshman, 6-pound 8-ounce baby Jesus, barely exposed to the #MACtion world. Jeremy Guy had a lot to say on the topic, and I agree with everything he said as far as going to as many games as possible and showing your passion for the MAC. The more time you spend rooting for your team and going to different sporting events, the more your investment and pride with the MAC will grow.
Can you wear another school's jersey on your campus?
This issue was met with unanimous disapproval from Hustle Belt writers, commenters, and twitter followers, but is so common and brought up so much anger across the MAC that it was included. I'm not telling you to throw out your Michigan and Ohio State hoodies and I'm all for supporting your team, but you'll come off as more of a troll than a fan if you're wearing an opposing jersey on your campus. It'll bring down the morale of the campus and the fans, which ruins the fun for everyone. If you're going to root for another team, don't be the turd in the punch bowl or you'll feel the wrath of Jeremy Guy.
At the end of the day, you can cheer for who you want, but you'll probably find more enjoyment attending the games and feeling like you're a part of something throughout your college career. It might not happen from day one and despite the lack of success in football the last six years, I'll never forget the countless Zips' football games at the old Rubber Bowl and the new Infocision Stadium. And on the more successful side, winning the 2010 National Championships in soccer and winning the MAC championship in 2009 and 2011 in basketball were some of the best college memories I've had. These are the events that will lead to you writing for a MAC blog or watching your team win the MAC championship on your phone from an Amsterdam hostel at 4 AM even after you graduate.