Welcome to the college football coaching carousel, and your coach could be next.
The script is familiar for MAC fans. A power five school grows tired of one of their state's highest paid employees and decides to pluck from the ranks of the group of five a shiny, new football coach. With more than enough jobs tavailable, it's likely someones favorite headset wearing leader is being offered a fat contract as I type.
Matt Campbell left for amber waves of grain, and maybe a few of his counter parts find new jobs as well. While most of the coaches in the MAC will be sticking around (provided they aren't fired), it's fun to pretend, which is why I've grouped all MAC programs into tiers based on how devastating it would be to see their coach leave. After all, not all departures are created equal.
Tier One: Tis but a flesh wound
Kent State- Paul Haynes (9-26)
I don't think anyone's to the point where they're advising Haynes to look out for a swinging door should he leave Kent, but that moment could be fast approaching. Since Haynes took over in 2012, the Flashes have won just nine games overall which includes only six total conference wins. Maybe the program that scored just 73 points this season despite playing in the East division has more to worry about than a head coach.
Northern Illinois- Rod Carey (31-10)
Poor NIU. How can they possibly deal with the suffering of losing a head coach to another school and having equivalent if not greater subsequent success? How can an entire fan base endure yet another underpaid boss leading a team to Detroit with a backup quarterback? Doesn't all the winning get exhausting?
Toledo- Matt Campbell (35-15)
This isn't hypothetical. Campbell is actually gone, but the real question isn't whether or not Toledo's program can recover on the field, it's whether they can recover on Twitter:
With a parting shot a Bowling Green, too? Hasn't missed a beat. Toledo Twitter has some big shoes to fill, but if history is any indicator, the Rockets will be just fine on the football field at least. Jon Heacock is a good name to remember. The last Toledo interim head coach just took a pay day in Ames.
Tier Two: Definitely not ideal
Ohio- Frank Solich (80-60)
Unless the entire season is played in November, the Bobcats are not likely to crumble in a Solich departure. But be careful what you wish for. The Bobcats are 20 wins over .500 since Solich's first year in 2005, and have played in as many bowl games in that span (six) as Western Michigan has ever.
Miami- Chuck Martin (5-19)
Martin's team has shown a ton of improvement in two seasons, but there's precious little left in the optimism tank for another losing season. A hypothetical fresh start wouldn't be the worst thing to happen in Oxford, but it would affirm their place in the East cellar for the short term.
Ball State- Pete Lembo (33-29)
Ball State under Pete Lembo has been sort of all over the place. It's tough to say whether or not they'd be better off should he make a"Lembo Leap" to another program, but the staff has come under fire recently for its inability to get things done. If Lembo leaves Muncie behind, there could be a negative effect on the development of young quarterback Riley Neal. I hear he's the real deal.
Bowling Green- Dino Babers (17-9)
It's been two seasons and already it looks like Dino Babers is on the move. While many were wrong about his move to UCF recently, there's zero chance the Knights were the only ones inquiring about Babers' services. "Falcon Fast" has been good to Bowling Green, and the idea of it heading somewhere else should scare any Falcon fan, but the athletic department at BGSU is good at avoiding bumps in the road. After all, it did hire Babers.
Tier Three: I'm not crying. I just have something in my eye
Western Michigan- PJ Fleck (16-21)
For two years now all we've talked about is when (not if) P.J. Fleck will leave WMU. As the Broncos continue improving the rumors grow louder. This time, it's "Fleck to Rutgers." This should scare any Bronco fan. The recent success has been wonderful, but the program as a whole is still a hormonal teenager in need of careful guidance into adulthood. One false step, like removing Fleck from the picture, and WMU becomes Jesse Pinkman.
Please don't go.
Central Michigan- John Bonamego (7-5)
This move is as hypothetical as they come, but a Bonomego move would throw the Chippewa fan base into an absolute frenzy. Dan Enos leaves and is replaced by an alumnus that flat out gets the community and can coach football? Talk about an emotional roller coaster. Nothing good would come of this.
Buffalo- Lance Leipold (5-7)
Leipold is a catch for the Bulls, who just missed bowl eligibility with a puzzling loss to UMass. However, that trend of puzzling losses should come to a screeching halt real soon. Leipold may have lost over twice as many games this season as he did while at Whitewater, but that's just because he only lost three games in seven years. Hang on to Leipold, Buffalo. He may be gone before you know it.
Eastern Michigan- Chris Creighton (3-21)
Okay, the Eagles go 0-8 in the MAC and should be devastated if Creighton leaves? Absolutely. Creighton is selling hope, and a process that just might work. The Eagles are a big more talented than recent years and are visibly improved. Improved! Eastern! Eagles fans have plenty to be excited about with Creighton, and losing him, albeit unlikely as all hell, would doom EMU forever (and a day).
Tier Four: TOTAL MELTDOWN
Akron- Terry Bowden (18-31)
At 7-5 the Zips have their first winning season in a decade. Meaning I finished middle school, went to high school, graduated, got accepted to college, received a diploma and found my first real job before Akron made it back to a bowl game. That's a long stretch of futility only EMU can possibly relate to. But it all changes this year. The Zips are going bowling and can publicly admit to having a football team without shame. And what a shame it would be to have this all come crashing down. Bowden isn't realistically going anywhere, but could you imagine the destruction that would befall the athletic department at Ohio's polytechnic university?
Akron is not an attractive landing spot for new hires. It has a history of limited success and a less than stellar track record on the recruiting trail. Right now Terry Bowden is doing the impossible and could be a few offensive weapons away from being a real threat to Bowling Green's dominion over the MAC East. The Zips have few places to turn if Bowden no longer leads the way.