First and foremost, Ohio State University, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Penn State are some of the most respected football programs in the Midwest. Of course, the Big Ten is one of the top six conferences in the country. This is pretty much a given. Just as I believe that the GLIAC is getting stronger, I also believe the Mid American Conference is getting stronger and stronger.
I remember chatting with then Bowling Green head coach Gary Blackney years ago. He told me that he was tired of the phrase "MAC player." He said that he was tired of the Ohio high school football coaches giving out the MAC list of players. More recently, former Toledo head coach Tim Beckman would tell me the same.
Although some games are better today, MAC schools often play the top BCS schools to get a big paycheck. Former Ohio State coach Jim Tressell thought it was important to bring Ohio MAC football teams to the Shoe. Some exposure for those schools, but, moreso, a big paycheck. Kent State went to Alabama last year for a good deal of money. One of the biggest problems with this is that the money is spread throughout the entire MidAm school's sports department. Those other sports teams do not attend many home games or show alot of support for the football team , but benefit from sharing the wealth.
Ball State has beaten Indiana two years in a row. Indiana is in the Big Ten and has had some close games with other Big Ten schools. Louisville just sneaked by Ball State by two points. Ohio University beat Penn State the opening game of the season. I am well aware of the state of Penn State football, but it is still Penn State and Happy Valley. Toledo, most recently, beat Cincinnati. Western Michigan beat UConn. Finally, Northern Illinois beat a bad Kansas team.
There were some blowouts, for sure, but there were some close games, too. Florida beat Bowling Green at Florida 27-14. Arizona beat Toledo at Arizona, 24-17. For some reason, every MAC school seems to beat Army.
Last Saturday. Kent State hammered Rutgers 35-23. Turnovers big time for Rutgers. But The Golden Flashes made good on many of those Rutgers' mistakes. Rutgers was rated 18th in the country for whatever value that is. BCS and rated - not bad for the 7-1 Golden Flashes.
Players often tell me that they want to play at the "highest level" possible. I applaude that thinking, but so often a prospect will end up being a practice player and maybe never see the field until his senior year. Now, not trying to negative, but it happens. BCS schools outswide of Ohio feel that it is important to take a player or two out of Ohio. Taking the player, even though he is a stretch, gives them an Ohio connection, in case they go after more Ohio guys.
Why go to a "Purdue or a Vanderbilt," when you can stay in Ohio and play winning football in the MAC. "Boucebacks" happen all of the time. Of course, I understand the "egos" of parents and the dreams of players. Honestly, tough decision. At least visit some MAC programs to see what is available. Again, I know it is a tough choice, but football is still football.
Coming out of Findlay High School years ago, Ben Roethlisberger chose Miami over some bigger programs. Pittsburgh Steelers' James Harrison played at Kent State. Of course, the list goes on and on. Most recently, Miami quarterback Zac Dysert has done well as a passer. From the small town of Ada, Ohio, will definitely get some looks from the League scouts.
One of my favorite players in the MAC is Kent State's Trayion Durham. A listed 6'0-250 RB, he has the tools and potential to play on Sundays. At Colerain High School, he always played FB in their option offense. Always had his hand down, but you could see his RB potential in the spread. Main problem with Trayion is that you do not always know who is going to show up, or how hard he will run on every play. When he runs, he is a beast. There is a place for him in the League, but needs to watch the scales.
If you are a recruit and reading my blog, do not "blow-off" the Mid American Conference. The crowds are not always the largest and the facilities are not always top line (although Toledo and Akron are not too bad), but football is football. Winning is still fun. Playing makes mom and dad happy. Maybe most important of all, NFL scouts visit the campus every spring. Four regular season games left- Get to a Mid American Conference game.