It’s strange times in the Mid-American Conference, and there are no stranger participants than the Miami-Ohio Redhawks and the Bowling Green Falcons. Both programs and fanbases are struggling through 2017 and have more than their fair share of questions and wonders about the long-term viability of the current program’s affairs. It’s as if Saturday’s contest in Oxford gives hope to one of the fanbases when currently hope seems so difficult to find.
Before this season began, Miami was the trendy pick to contend for the MAC East. Perhaps it was a belief in Chuck Martin. Maybe it was focusing on the six straight wins to close 2016 instead of the six straight losses to open it. At 2-3 so far in 2017, the RedHawks have yet to land a significant win as victories over a dreadful Austin Peay team and a reeling Central Michigan Chippewas squad hardly inspire confidence. Crushing losses to the Marshall Thundering Herd and the Cincinnati Bearcats along with a blowout at the hands of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and it’s been anything but a Cinderella year for Miami.
For BG, though, it’s been new levels of frustration and failure at the hands of Mike Jinks. Winless through five games with only one of the losses by single digits, and you have to ask yourself if a win is going to come this year as you open conference play. It’s a valid and easy question. But the answer is far more complicated.
If you’re a Falcons loyalist, do you even hope they win? Is the short-term gain of getting the first win of the season worth it? Some we’ve talked to believe a change in direction at the head of the program is needed. A win on Saturday doesn’t bolster that argument. Throw in the potential financial difficulty of cobbling together a buyout and a new coach and the change in direction may not even be possible. A loss and 0-6 and suddenly a hiring process seems more needed than not and often times you have to take the long view as a fan.
Whatever happens on Saturday in Oxford, one fanbase is going to reach epic heights of frustration and the other likely won’t even be happy with the win. A RedHawks win likely brings relief after beating a winless, hapless, helpless BG team but relief is far from celebratory exuberance. For BG a win means this nightmare isn’t over yet and the frustration and failure is likely to get worse before it gets better. Strange times indeed for MACtion.