Hustle Belt: The MAC and the B1G, being geographically tied into one another, often play several games each fall in the non-conference portion of the season. As B1G fans, how do you all feel about that?
Jesse Collins: Personally speaking, I think the B1G-MAC thing is actually really healthy for both conferences. Not only are there really good ties to the Midwest that each conference share, but there are also a lot of kids from the MAC who have something to prove to some of the schools they thought snubbed them. That's great, and it very often proves to be great on the field. Additionally, the MAC provides a good check on teams before the regular conference season starts.
Sure, there is an argument to be had that many of these games are still bodybag games for the largest universities, but at this point, it would be fairly silly to label all the matchups as such. On that note, I think the best part is that it forces different looks on both offense and defense, and that is definitely fun for me. I'd rather watch B1G-MAC games than B1G-CUSA or even a lot of the B1G-AAC matchups.
HB: The B1G is moving to a 9 game conference schedule in 2016; a ban on FCS games is coming that same year. When that all happens, do you see the MAC-B1G crossover games going the way of the Dinosaurs as more emphasis is put on playing Power 5 schools?
JC: I actually think the MAC crossovers will continue pretty heavily. There is definitely a push to see Power 5 do its own thing, but until that happens, a team would be crazy to only schedule teams from those conferences. Additionally, I think that the location/cultural thing is really hard to overlook. As long as there is still a NCAA FBS style division, you're probably going to see matchups between these two conferences, especially because of the FCS ban, which will totally make MAC opponents - sadly, especially the bottom-tier ones - get phone calls for early season warmups. The MACrifice thing will be a money maker for some schools, and huge for ensuring home games for the B1G's biggest schools.
HB: As a B1G fan, seeing Indiana head into a MAC stadium this fall, what's your reaction to that?
JC: At its core, I'm totally fine with it, you know? Indiana isn't exactly the premier institution in the B1G, and if you're going to go ahead and expect the MAC to bend over backwards for the largest schools - who pay the most - you've also got to expect some return games as you say. I think as things expand, the two-for-one type deals might become a little more of a thing, especially for lower tiered schools.
Will you see the largest schools with the biggest budgets doing that? Probably not, but maybe neutral site games in Chicago or what not might satiate some people. I dont' know. At the end of the day, a school has to do what's best for itself, and that includes the MAC teams. That being said, that travel schedule is pretty brutal for the MAC this year.
HB: What is the honest, shooting-it-straight B1G fans' view of the MAC? I live in B1G country (Columbus) and the things said about the MAC and my school can be downright disrespectful, but I'd like to think that this isn't representative of the group at large?
JC: It's hard for me to speak about the MAC representing the entire B1G because I am a Nebraska fan, and I don't really even represent all of Nebraska all that well. That being said, I think most fans appreciate the MAC, especially because a lot of us grew up around those schools. There will always be some disdain as it being a lower-tier than the Big Ten, and at some level that's probably a fair reducer.
However, there's a reason MACtion is a thing, you know? The Big Ten will always have more money and control over the larger national narrative, but there's a reason so many assistant coaches go there to get their HC time in. It's a competitive league that people have to respect. Also, I mean, Columbus. Don't Ohio State fans think everyone are kind of below them? That's sort of their thing. (yeah yeah, Nebraska fan talking... let's just move on)
HB: This fall, which MAC-B1G matchups are you most looking forward too? Which ones do you expect the league having the most difficult time with?
JC: I am worried for Indiana. BGSU isn't a team to be trifled with, and you better believe they want to avenge the massacre in Bloomington from the year before. Both teams will score points, at least I assume so because Indiana's defense is not-so-good despite holding the Falcons (they're the Falcons, right?) to ten last year. I am also really fascinated by Purdue-Western Michigan. By all accounts, Purdue should win that game, but it's hard to say that they will. I realize WMU isn't exactly a world-beater, but neither is Purdue.
Honestly, the rest of the slate looks pretty clean for the B1G. There's the idea that Iowa will get a run for their money, but that probably means they are slowly in control the whole game, but don't put away Ball State because heaven forbid they keep pressure on a lesser opponent, which results in a close score late. I like the whole slate, though. I want MAC teams to scare B1G teams. I mean, I don't love when the conference catches hell for it, but if it means lots of schadenfreude, then I can't complain too much.
A B1G thank you to Jesse for taking time out to chat about MACrifice with us. Be sure to check out his team's work over at Off Tackle Empire. Just click already, dammit.