April 20, 2011
Cleveland, Ohio - The Mid-American Conference (MAC) announced Wednesday (Apr. 20) the addition of the University of Massachusetts (UMass) as a football only member, which will increase the conference football membership to 14 universities. UMass will begin conference play for the 2012 football season and will be eligible for the conference football championship game and a bowl game beginning in the 2013 football season.
"The University of Massachusetts will add to the academic stature of the Mid-American Conference and bring a strong tradition and depth to our conference," said Dr. Jon A. Steinbrecher, Commissioner of the Mid-American Conference. "The UMass football program will add quality to our conference's football programs and balance our divisions. In addition, this addition allows our conference to expand our footprint into New England and into the Boston and Hartford/Springfield markets."
Brad Bates, Miami University's Director of Athletics, echoed Commissioner Steinbrecher's sentiments about UMass.
"We are very excited to welcome the University of Massachusetts to the Mid American Conference," said Bates. "The quality of their institution combined with their substantial commitment to football demonstrates a serious devotion to our Conference. Massachusetts also provides Miami with the opportunity to regularly engage our alumni and fans in the Northeast in meaningful and proximate ways."
Over the last 13 years, UMass football captured five conference champions and participated in five NCAA FCS/I-AA Tournaments, winning the 1998 National Championship. UMass had seven players on NFL rosters in 2010, including NFL Second-Round Draft pick Vladimir Ducasse with the New York Jets.
"We feel the time is right for this landmark decision of UMass football elevating to the FBS level," said University of Massachusetts Athletic Director John McCutcheon. "Playing in the FBS is where UMass should be positioned as the flagship campus of the state system. The opportunities to play on a national level and what that means for exposure and visibility will be a tremendous asset not only for athletics, but for the entire university. We are extremely excited about the opportunity to join the Mid-American Conference and develop relationships and rivalries with its members. To have the opportunity to play those games at a state-of-the-art facility like Gillette Stadium really is one of the key factors that makes this transition possible."
UMass Head Coach Kevin Morris will enter his third season at the helm of the UMass program. Morris has collected an overall record of 11-11-0 in the last two seasons with UMass in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), including 6-5 in 2010. The 2011 season will mark the eighth season for Morris at UMass. Morris was named head coach on Jan. 19, 2009, and previously served five seasons as offensive coordinator (2004-08).
MAC Competition In 2010, four MAC programs received bowl invitations, which marked the first time in conference history where four or more programs received bowl invitations in three consecutive years. The most bowl invitations in a single season in conference history is five invites, which occurred on three occasions (2004, 2008 and 2009). In addition, the MAC produced five teams last season with eight wins or more for the first time since 2003.
In the last three seasons, 10 of the 13 MAC football programs have appeared in a bowl game. The MAC will have sent five (2008), five (2009) and four (2010) schools to bowl games during the three-year span. Also in 2010, MAC programs featured wins over Big Ten, Big East, Conference USA, Sun Belt and Independent (Army) opponents.
2010 MAC Championship and 2010-11 MAC Bowl Recap: 2010 Marathon MAC Football Championship Game: Miami (Ohio) 26, Northern Illinois 21 (ESPN2). 2010 uDrove Humanitarian Bowl: Northern Illinois 40, Fresno State 17 (ESPN) 2010 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Troy 48, Ohio 21 (ESPN) 2010 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl: FIU 34, Toledo 32 (ESPN) 2011 Go Daddy.com Bowl: Miami 35, Middle Tennessee State 21 (ESPN)
MAC and Bowl Agreements In the spring of 2010, the MAC announced for the first time in its 64-year history five bowl relationships--three (3) primary and two (2) secondary--through the 2013 season. The MAC's three primary bowl agreements are with the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl (Detroit, Mich.), GoDaddy.com Bowl (Mobile, Ala.) and the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl (Boise, Ida.).
In addition, the MAC has secured two secondary agreements over a four year span with the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Ala. (2010-2013), the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas (2010 and 2012) and the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl/San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl/New Mexico Bowl (2011 and 2013).
MAC and National Television Exposure The MAC has a national television contract with ESPN which runs through 2016-17, following an extension signed in 2009. The 2011 season will mark the third year of the current eight-year national deal with ESPN.
The MAC recently announced the 2011 football schedule with a minimum of 15 regular-season national television games on ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPN3 highlighting the conference schedule, including the 14th Marathon MAC Football Championship game on Dec. 2 from Ford Field in Detroit on ESPN2. In 2011, there will be 13 mid-week conference games during the month of November alone with six games on ESPN2, eight games on ESPNU and one on ESPN3.
The 2011 season will also feature a six-week, over-the-air syndication package in September and October produced and distributed by ESPN Regional Television. The six games, which can also be seen on ESPN Game Plan and ESPN3, will air in nearly 25 television markets, including major markets such as Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Buffalo.
In the summer of 2010, the MAC entered into a three-year regional television deal with SportsTime Ohio to expand its television coverage in football and men's and women's basketball. In 2010, SportsTime Ohio carried seven MAC football games and looks to increase that number in 2011.
All total, nearly 60 percent of all MAC football games in 2010 were televised either at the national or regional level via ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3, NBC, CBS College Sports, Big Ten Network, SportsTime Ohio, Time Warner Cable SportsNet, Comcast SportsNet Chicago, FOX SportsNet, Comcast Indiana or Comcast Michigan.
MAC and Scheduling In 2011, MAC programs will face a formidable non-conference slate of opponents from the following Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conferences - ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, and SEC. In addition, the conference will also face independent Army, as well as Boise State from the Mountain West Conference.
A total of 11 of the schools' non-conference games will feature an opponent from the Big Ten (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan (2), Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State (2), Penn State (2) and Wisconsin). The MAC will match up with a foe from the SEC (3--Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee), Big 12 (4--Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Oklahoma), ACC (2--Maryland, North Carolina State), Big East (9--Cincinnati (2), Connecticut (2), Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Florida, Syracuse, West Virginia), Mountain West (2--Boise State, Wyoming), WAC (2--Idaho, New Mexico State), Sun Belt (2--Florida International, Louisiana-Lafayette) and Conference USA (1--Marshall).
MAC programs continue to increase the number of home or neutral site games against FBS Automatic Qualifying Conferences. Ball State will host Indiana in a neutral site game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Sept. 3, while Northern Illinois will host Wisconsin in a neutral site game at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sept. 17. Also, Temple will host Penn State (Sept. 17), Buffalo will host Connecticut (Sept. 24) and Miami will host Cincinnati (Oct. 1).
In addition, Toledo will host Boise State (Sept. 17) and Independent Army will visit four MAC programs--at Northern Illinois (Sept. 3), at Ball State (Sept. 24), at Miami (Oct. 8) and at Temple (Nov. 19).
MAC and the NFL The recent Super Bowl XLV in Dallas between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers best represented the MAC's influence on the NFL. Fifteen former MAC student-athletes participated in the Super Bowl, which tied for second most of any collegiate conference. The MAC and Big Ten tied for second, only trailing the SEC with 18 players. Green Bay had nine former MAC student-athletes on its active roster, while Pittsburgh had six former MAC student-athletes.
MAC alumni currently in the NFL include: Atlanta RB Michael Turner (Northern Illinois), Cleveland KR Josh Cribbs (Kent State), Green Bay WR Greg Jennings (Western Michigan), Indianapolis OT Ryan Diem (Northern Illinois), Jacksonville DT Terrance Knighton (Temple), New England WR Julian Edelman (Kent State), New Orleans WR Lance Moore (Toledo), N.Y. Giants WR Domenik Hixon (Akron), Oakland QB Bruce Gradkowksi (Toledo), Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger (Miami), Pittsburgh LB James Harrison (Kent State), San Diego TE Antonio Gates (Kent State), San Diego LB Larry English (Northern Illinois), San Francisco OT Joe Staley (Central Michigan) and Tennessee DE Jason Babin (Western Michigan) to name a few.
In addition, six former MAC student-athletes were selected to play in the 2011 Pro Bowl: Atlanta RB Michael Turner (Northern Illinois), Tennessee DE Jason Babin (Western Michigan), Pittsburgh LB James Harrison (Kent State), Green Bay WR Greg Jennings (Western Michigan), San Diego TE Antonio Gates (Kent State) and Philadelphia DB Asante Samuel (Central Florida).
One more example, Kent State University alone has had a former student-athlete on eight of the last 11 winning Super Bowl teams.
MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE Founded in 1946, the Mid-American Conference is an NCAA Division I, 12 full-member conference that sponsors 23 championships and is one of 11 members of the Football Bowl Subdivison (FBS). With total enrollment of nearly 300,000 students, the league represents institutions of higher learning in seven (7) states - Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, and Ohio. In addition, two universities - Temple University in Philadelphia, Pa., and the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Ma. -- are members for football only.
Current MAC schools that hold full membership and the year they joined are -- East Division: University of Akron (1992), Bowling Green State University (1952), University at Buffalo (1998), Kent State University (1951), Miami University (1947), Ohio University (1946). West Division: Ball State University (1973), Central Michigan University (1971), Eastern Michigan University (1971), Northern Illinois University (1975-86, rejoined in 1997), University of Toledo (1950), Western Michigan University (1947).
Temple University (2007) and the University of Massachusetts (2012) compete in football only.