August 11, 2006

ESPN: Good for the MAC?

Of course it is, but a recent story by Kyle Nagel of the Dayton Daily News suggests that Northern Illinois Head Caoch Joe Novak searches his soul for direction on the MAC's propensity for playing non-Saturday games...

"We're prostituting our programs, in a way," Novak said. "And I hate to say that."
But ya did. How about this - I wouldn't know Joe Novak from any other fat college coach if it weren't for ESPN. You, George O'Leary, Pat Hill - all just roadblocks on the buffet line if it weren't for all the TV games. Of course, Mark Mangino is in the obese class of one, so he isn't grouped in here.

Now, I know Novak as a guy who goes for two when down one with no time remaining like at Northwestern last year. I know him as a coach who took a 20-game losing streak and turned the Huskies into legit conference and bowl contenders every year. I know Novak as a guy who cultivates tremendous running back talent, like Michael "the Burner" Turner, Thomas Hammock, and now Garrett Wolfe.

If not for the inconvenience of playing on Thursdays, I wouldn't have known squat about him.

Nagel does his homework and talks to the right people in the MAC to get their opinion, and the nationwide exposure more than makes up for the incovenience. MAC commissioner Rick Chryst says that last season, the MAC had the fifth-highest viewership of conferences on ESPN2 broadcasts, ahead of the Big Ten, Mountain West and Conference USA. More than the Big Ten people - I call that a victory even if that means they only outdrew the Illinois-Indiana matchup.

So for those of you who feel that the weekday games fly in the face of the academic ideals of intercollegiate athletics, I ask you "Where do you think the money comes from to pay for all the test tubes and beakers?" That's right, college football does.

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