No shortage of ‘MACtion’ with 7 teams in bowl games

Kent State linebacker Luke Batton makes a diving tackle on Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch at the Mid-American Conference Championship at Ford Field Friday, Nov. 30, 2012 in Detroit, Mich. (Phil Masturzo/Akron Beacon Journal/MCT)

It’s that time of year again in college football: bowl season. With seven teams representing the Mid-American Conference in bowl games, there’s a lot of “MACtion” to get excited about.

From the Cinderella story of Kent State University making their way into the GoDaddy.com Bowl to Eastern Michigan University’s rival Central Michigan University playing in Detroit in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, there is no shortage of excitement.

The real story is Northern Illinois University being the first team in conference history to make a Bowl Championship Subdivision bowl game.

After a crazy double overtime thriller in the MAC championship over Kent State, NIU (12-1 overall, 8-0 MAC) is ranked 15th in the BCS rankings and will play Florida State, ranked 12th, in the Orange Bowl.

NIU, which is a non-automatic qualifying school, earned a bid over other well-deserving teams such as Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Georgia, South Carolina and even Louisiana State University.

Many wonder how this could happen. Here’s how:

The Big Ten, Southeastern, Big 12, Atlantic Coast, Pacific-12 and Big East Conferences are all recognized as AQ schools.

After all of the championship games are finished, the final BCS rankings are released. If a non-AQ school finishes within the top 16 of those rankings and are ranked higher by at least one conference champion, they qualify.

A MAC school earning their way into the BCS is making the Midwest crazy. The guys who always root for the underdog are praising Jordan Lynch’s name. In addition, the MAC gets some money to spread out around the conference, but not everybody is happy about this.

If you watched the BCS Countdown on ESPN Sunday, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

“They don’t deserve to be in the BCS this year,” college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit said during the special.

You hear the same arguments with David Pollack and Jesse Palmer joining in on the hate parade. NIU lost to B1G opponent Iowa in the first game of the season by one point and their marquee victories were a seven-point win over the University of Kansas and Kent State.

As much as Herbstreit said he has nothing against NIU, many of us know that’s a lie. He argued this is a fault in the BCS system and how the major bowl games are selected.

“This is a great example of how it’s not just about the BCS and one and two,” Herbstreit said. “The fact that Northern Illinois is in the BCS in 2012 is really a sad state for college football and where we are with the current system and the fact, thank goodness, we’re moving toward a new system in 2014.”

Well, if we’re going to address problems with the BCS, let’s talk about all of the problems while we’re here. Ready?

Since it’s the biggest game, let’s talk about the National Championship game. Notre Dame (12-0 overall, 0-0 because they’re an independant) versus Alabama (12-1, 7-1 SEC).

Why does Notre Dame get special privileges again? The SEC championship game was practically a play-in for the National Championship, while Notre Dame didn’t play in a conference championship. This will eventually turn into a different argument, but it’s unfair the Irish didn’t have the chance to lose in Week 14.

The Wisconsin Badgers made it into the Rose Bowl for the second year in a row after they destroyed Nebraska 70-31. The Badgers have an 8-5 overall record and only 4-4 against conference opponents.

Wisconsin, a team that barely beat Northern Iowa and Utah State at home, only put up seven points in their loss to Oregon State and aren’t even in the top 25 of the BCS rankings, made it into the most popular bowl game of the year. Michigan, Nebraska and even Northwestern are all ranked, but rules are rules. Have fun at the Rose Bowl.

Next is the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. No, they didn’t make it into the Sugar Bowl, but they’re bowling with a losing record. The 6-7 Yellow Jackets will be playing USC in the Hyundai Sun Bowl.

Why can’t teams that don’t have losing records play here instead? Everybody who won at least half of their games are either already bowling or should’ve won the Leaders Division of the B1G. I guess expanding the Football Bowl Stadium to 124 teams wasn’t enough to solve this problem.

If people want to see Johnny “Football” Manziel and Landry Jones play each other in the Fiesta Bowl, Georgia play with a chip on their shoulder against Florida State or even Kent State play in the Rose Bowl, then let the people decide.

There can be a voting process for this. Simply allow a 24-hour period of online voting where the people can pick the bowl games and the so-called “experts” can act as an electoral college and have the final say.

Here’s another idea: Get rid of conferences. I hate those things.

We’re all tired of Notre Dame being Notre Dame, the B1G being 14 teams strong and the SEC always seeming to have 11 teams in the top 10, while all hell breaks loose when two MAC schools are in the top 25.

Get rid of all the nonsense that makes teams from as far as Nebraska and Rutgers in the same conference. I’m not sure these student-athletes like the idea of having a road game that takes a 21-hour drive.

Make 10 to 12 regions based on location, not money, and have only 10 to 12 teams within each region. Have a short nine-week season and figure out who should be selected in a single-elimination playoff tournament that consists of five or six rounds to win it
all.

Since we want to watch more football and get more money, everybody who loses (except for the national championship runner-up) can play in one of these bowl games. The earlier you lose, you end up in bowls like Little Caesars or Kraft Fight Hunger, but the teams that last longer can go to the Orange, Sugar and Rose bowls during the playoffs for their semi-final and final rounds.

Everybody has the chance to be number one, everybody can play in a bowl game to make sure that football is still getting revenue, advertisers are still getting their share and there isn’t anything against the MAC, Western Athletic Conference, Mountain West, Conference USA or Sun Belt.

Don’t get me wrong, this is the best distraction from Notre Dame and Alabama getting all the hype. Sure, these schools in bigger conferences may have signed more four-star recruits than NIU or KSU, but there’s only one game that can decide if they “belong.”

Miracles happening on New Years Day aren’t totally impossible; just ask the 2006-07 Boise State Broncos – they won the Fiesta Bowl that year.


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