John Steinbrecher would like to correct one thing about his Mid-American Conference.
One quick clarification, and then everyone can go back to singing the praises of his BCS-busting league.
The MAC, he says, does not play all of its games on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
It just seems that way.
The MAC, through its relationship with ESPN, has become an early week television fixture. On nights when power conference teams are implementing their game plans, MAC teams areputting up points and reaching eyeballs.
What its done has provide a vehicle and a stage for us to play out our conference championship each year, Steinbrecher said.
It has provided exposure we would not otherwise be getting. Its very unique to have an evening all to yourself. In the month of November, we get an evening all to ourselves.
MAC teams played on every day except Sunday and Monday this year. Toledo, which meets Utah State in Saturdays Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, hasnt played on Saturday since Oct. 22. The Rockets past three games were conference contests on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Its helped in recruiting 10-fold, Toledo coach Matt Campbell said. In the last three, four years, weve certainly benefitted from having the national media and national television games. Its a great environment when you are on national television itself. But when you get a chance to have those recruits look on the TV and watch you play, that makes a world of difference.
Call it gimmicky if you want. Football on Tuesdays?
But consider it wasnt long ago that football on Thursdays was considered a gimmick. Now power conferences and the NFL are playing on Thursdays and loving it.
Its something different. Youre the only game on TV that night, Toledo senior Jermaine Richardson said. Ive enjoyed it.
Boise State fans should recognize this formula. The Broncos are 34-4 in regular-season non-Saturday games since 2001, most of them televised on ESPNs family of networks. Boise States rise was, no doubt, aided by the exposure.
Just as the Broncos blue field and penchant for trick plays in those games attracted fans and media attention from around the country, the MACs style of football captured the fancy of many.
Particularly on Twitter, where #MACtion is a popular hashtag during the often wacky games. #MACtion has gotten so popular, the league is trademarking it and selling T-shirts on its website, Steinbrecher said. #MACtion T-shirts in team colors will be added around Christmas.
Whats been neat about this is it kind of organically popped up. Its stuck, Steinbrecher said. Its developed an identity fast-paced, high-energy, often times a lot of scoring and inevitably a lot of very exciting football.
You cant argue with the leagues results. A record seven MAC teams are headed to bowl games. Four MAC teams were ranked in the BCS Standings for at least one week this season. Kent State and Northern Illinois entered the MAC championship game played on a Friday, naturally with BCS hopes.
And, of course, Northern Illinois is headed to the Orange Bowl to face Florida State, becoming the first MAC team to bust the BCS and the first non-AQ team with a loss to play in a BCS game.
That type of exposure facilitates the pollsters and the various polls. It gives them a chance to zero in and focus in on our student-athletes and what theyre doing, Steinbrecher said.
Sometimes you can get lost in the clutter.
His league has found a way through that clutter. As a regional league, the MAC has been largely undisturbed by realignment (Temple left, UMass entered), allowing it to focus on other objectives and foster rivalries.
Being a bus league is a pretty good thing these days. Fans can get around to each other. There are marvelous rivalries, Steinbrecher said. There is a rich tradition that comes with it. I spend a lot of time talking about it because if you lose that you might not ever get it back.
So in the most untraditional of ways on Tuesdays and on Twitter, with #MACtion for all the MAC has made it big time.
Brian Murphy: 377-6444