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Rick Majerus's Brief MAC Impact

The iconic and perennially-successful basketball coach passed away at 64 years of age, battling health issues in recent years. He is most known for coaching at Utah, but like many coaches, made his mark on the MAC before all that.

Rob Carr

He coached just two seasons in Ball State, from 1987-1989. He inherited a 9-18 team, went .500 in his first year then had the Cardinals tearing through everybody, finishing with a MAC Championship and a 29-3 record. He did it the way many MAC teams even today still quickly build a contender: a mixture of junior college and Division I transfers, including one from his previous stop at Marquette. Along the way they beat three Big Ten teams, attained a 9-seed, rallied to beat Pittsburgh in the first round and fell to Illinois 72-60, finishing with a No. 18 ranking, breaking new ground for the Cardinals: it was the first time they made the AP top 25 or won a game in the NCAAs. It was that success which vaulted him to Utah.

The 1990 team gets more attention, given that they made the Sweet 16 and gave everything they had against eventual champion UNLV, but that was a team Majerus obviously helped build.

The other moment in which he crossed paths with #MACsketball lore was the 1999 tournament, with Utah as a 2-seed, a senseless victim of Wally World. It was the second game in a row Szczerbiak put the RedHawks on his back and willed them to an NCAA tournament upset. But it was so much more. Between Majerus and Charlie Coles, they were the greatest convergence of skilled coaches who enjoy sweaters.

Obviously he did many other great things at Utah, including back-to-back Final Fours leading up to that '99 season, but like many great coaches, it all started in our conference.