Let's face it. Internet quizzes are ridiculously fun. Who doesn't want to be matched up to a famous cartoon character, or be told they would be a lumberjack in a different life, or best yet, have a 90's pop song describe their life? (Mine was Backstreet Boys' "As Long As You Love Me," if you were wondering.) That got us thinking over here at Hustle Belt: looking at MAC football teams as they are currently, what musical artist would best describe their team's performance? Here's the list we came up with:
Akron Zips: "Weird Al" Yankovic
"Weird Al" has been around for about forever and a day, and has made a career out of being a laughingstock. His latest album, Mandatory Fun, went number one on the Billboard Charts upon its release, the first time "Weird Al" hit the top of the charts, finally validating thirty years of work.
Similarly, Akron looks to no longer be the laughingstock of the MAC, and is looking to play spoiler to heavily-favored BGSU in the East. Terry Bowden has done a remarkable job turning around the program, and seeks to finally bring victories to InfoCision Stadium. There is cautious optimism that they could even qualify for a bowl, which would be just as cool to Akron fans as Weird Al potentially performing at the Super Bowl.
Bowling Green Falcons: Sam Smith
It seems you just can't get away from Sam Smith these days. Whether it's as a guest vocalist on Disclosure's "Latch", as the main vocalist on Naughty Boy's "La La La", or as a soloist in "Stay With Me", Mr. Smith has taken the world of contemporary hits radio by storm, out of what seems to be relatively nowhere.
It's the same deal as the Bowling Green State Falcons. After busting the BCS busters of Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship game, Bowling Green is now the runaway-favorite to win the MAC. It helps that the Falcons have Art Briles protege Dino Babers taking over for Dave Clawson. However, like Mr. Smith, only time will tell whether or not this is a sustained success or a one hit wonder.
Buffalo Bulls: Jay-Z
We all know where Jay-Z came from. Mr. Shawn Carter is a Brooklyn guy, through and through. He is a true believer in Brooklyn, and is never caught dead with any other hat besides a Nets or Yankees logo. (Yes, the Nets were from New Jersey, but he bought part of the team, built an arena and moved them. Remember?) He puts on for his city and state, bearing the title of New York's best rapper proudly.
In the same way, Jeff Quinn is a true believer in his Bulls football team, even if they aren't from Brooklyn. Quinn often equivocates about how Buffalo, and not bigger school Syracuse, is the true figurehead of New York collegiate athletics. As a result, he has high expectations. 2013's season was no exception. After a lackluster 0-2 start, the Bulls won seven straight games to finish 8-4 (6-2) on the season, losing to San Diego State University in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
Kent State Golden Flashes: Chumbawamba
"'Tubthumping' was their only hit, as 2012 was Kent State's only hit in the last few decades." (Andy Jardy, Hustle Belt contributor for Kent State)
2012 was a good year for the Golden Flashes, just like "Tubthumping" somehow became the hit single of 1997. 2013's season, unfortunately for Flashes fans, was as bad as 1998's "Macarena." They spent most of the year without Dri Archer, their All-American utility player, and it showed. Kent State finished 4-8 (3-5,) with a bad loss to South Alabama and a bad victory against Liberty. That being said, there were a few bright spots, with sophomore Colin Reardon getting much needed playing time at quarterback and halfback Trayion Durham proving more than capable of holding up the offense. The only thing potentially marring Kent State from being knocked down and climbing back up again is their defense, which gave up 409.9 yards per game.
Massachusetts Minutemen: Dropkick Murphys
"Dropkick Murphys, mostly because the hilarity of the song 'Shipping Up to Boston' matches the fact that the team has to travel an hour and a half to play their home games (well, thankfully only 3 of them this season.)" (Jesse Allen, UMass Hustle Belt team manager)
That right there says enough about the issues UMass faces after a rough first year in the FBS. Well also, holding six quarterbacks doesn't help. (Go ahead, count them.)
Miami RedHawks: Plies
"Miami is Plies because, well, he played for us." (The Chuck, Miami Hustle Belt contributor)
(Warning: this video is NSFW.)
Wait, what do you mean-- oh. Maybe Nod Washington is the reason Miami can't keep up with the rest of the MAC. When you lose "The Definition Of Real" that probably affects you a little bit, right? In all seriousness, Miami is looking to rebound from a "terribawful" season last year. Chuck Martin is expected to lead the rebuilding effort, but that doesn't mean that they will fare any better short term. At least they have (probably) Plies-approved uniforms.
Ohio Bobcats (Frank Solich:) Mannie Fresh
"Solich is like Birdman's former fellow Big Tymer, Mannie Fresh. Humble beginnings, briefly sat atop the rap world. Still going strong. Vastly underrated. And He Still Fly." (Bryan M. Vance, Ohio alumni)
I had to listen to some Mannie Fresh in order to figure out what to write for this one. As soon as I pulled up "Real Big," it made total sense. Frank Solich hails from Cleveland, played fullback for the University of Nebraska, and eventually rose up the ranks to become head coach of the Cornhuskers, where he was Big 12 Coach of the Year in 1999 and 2001, playing in the Rose Bowl for the National Championship in 2001.
But he fell from the spotlight after losing the job in 2003. He remerged in Athens, where he has turned the Bobcats (longtime gutter team of the MAC) into a strong program and shown he's just as good as ever, even if not currently in the national spotlight.
Ball State Cardinals: Katy Perry
Ball State's motto is "Education, Redefined." Katy Perry is known to be one of the innovators of pop music, with her blend of power pop, catchy lyricism, and eye-catching performances. Her discography is constantly evolving, showing her versatility. She is, in essence, the perfect female pop artist of the generation. (Sorry, Beyonce.) She popped up in a time where pop music was virtually gone from pop radio; it was mostly punk and dirty south rap and R&B. (Remember when Three Days Grace, Nickelback, and Nelly ruled the pop charts? Not a great time for music.) Contemporary hits radio was never the same after that.
After a miserable 2009 season, Pete Lembo took over the program in 2010, and has taken the Cardinals from pretty awful to perennial contender. Led by Keith Wenning and Willie Snead, the Cardinals finished 2013 10-3 (7-1) losing to Arkansas State by a measly field goal. Lembo looks to continue the revival of Ball State football much like how One of the Boys revitalized pop in 2008.
Central Michigan Chippewas: Panic! At The Disco
P!ATD is best known for their whiny single "I Write Sins, Not Tragedies" from the seminal emo album A Fever You Can't Sweat Out. Ask anyone for another song by them, and they'll look at you really funny. The former Blink-182 cover band quickly found their own success after being picked up by Fueled By Ramen, and on the momentum of Fever, released a psychedelic album named Pretty. Odd. This really killed any momentum that P!ATD had going for them in terms of mainstream success. Their third and fourth albums. Vices and Virtues, and Too Weird To LIve... Too Rare To Die! showed a return to prominence for Brendon Urie and Spencer Smith, the only remaining original members.
P!ATD's discography perfectly describes Central's performance the last five years. After Dan Enos took over the program post-Dan LeFevour era (Fever) Central found their Pretty. Odd. era, in the form of two straight 3-9 seasons, before finally figuring things out with 7-6 and 6-6 seasons, kind of like how Vices and Virtues redirected P!ATD's sound back to its roots.
Also, let's quickly point out that between Dan Enos and Brendon Urie, the room would explode of too much great hair in one room.
Eastern Michigan Eagles (Craig Creighton:) Chamillionaire
"It's either Grits or Chamillionaire for [Coach] Creighton. Neither of them swears in their raps." (Alex Alvarado, Eastern Michigan Contributor and assistant editor of Hustle Belt)
(Warning: video is NSFW:)
Sorry, Alex. "Frontin'" places Chamillionaire on the high road. It's that sort of honesty that endears him to his fans.
Eastern has adopted a work tough, play tough attitude under Chris Creighton, and that might just be the thing that they need to finally get a fire under them this season. They have been basement dwellers for about as far back as anyone can remember, and with the introduction of "The Factory," and new blood in the form of a new coach and recruits, Creighton has accepted the challenge of trying to rebuild the program, so go ahead. Tell him they suck. He'll tell you otherwise.
Northern Illinois Huskies: Hollywood Undead
Dark. Brooding. Intense. Kind of an outlier in their community. But they find a way to rock to their own beat. Hollywood Undead is a rap ensemble in a time where rap ensembles aren't a thing. They're unapologetic, they wear scary masks, and they rock the hell out of a live performance.
Northern Illinois embodies the outlier label perfectly. They relied on a running offense last year in an era where passing offenses are the new rage. They're not well known in the national spotlight, but have been doing their thing for years, honing their craft and becoming that team MAC fans love to hate. Despite not being picked to win their division or the MAC this year, NIU should still be taken serious as a threat to win the MAC. The Hard Way.
Toledo Rockets: 5 Seconds of Summer
(song starts at :45)
5 Seconds of Summer perfectly describes Toledo's expectations for the coming season. 5 Seconds of Summer is an Australian boy band that inexplicably became popular this summer, after doing nothing really prior to their first U.S. single. However, their fan base is extremely loyal, and they just keep cranking out the tunes, which means that they will be in the discussion for a long time in terms of best boy band/pop artists of the year.
Toledo is expected to win the West thanks to their depth in many positions, including quarterback, defensive tackle, and defensive back. They were chosen to win the West over perennial favorite NIU, who have the potential to fail thanks to Jordan Lynch's departure.
Western Michigan Broncos: The Lonely Island
(Warning: video is NSFW.)
Enough said here, really.