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Published: Sunday, 12/12/2004

What does future hold for MAC?

Even though the Mid-American Conference has set a record for bowl bids the league's future bowl goals remain simple.

"We're working hard to find a permanent third bowl," said commissioner Rick Chryst. "We feel we are a league that warrants three bowl [bids] annually."

Even though the MAC claimed five bids this year, the league has a contract to send a representative to only two: the Motor City and the GMAC bowls.

Chryst said this year provides MAC schools with a chance to prove their bowl worthiness and perhaps earn the league a contract with another existing bowl.

"We think our league has been under-served regarding bowl opportunities," he said. "It's important that our schools follow through their bowl commitments in positive ways. This year we'll get to tell our story and build awareness and recognition.

"The story of what happened to Miami, Toledo and Northern Illinois are part of what has happened through the years."

All three schools have been denied bowl bids despite winning 10 games, Northern Illinois last season, and Toledo and Miami in 2000 and 1998, respectively.

Chryst said another option is to link with a new bowl. Toronto and Denver have been mentioned as possible destinations. Toronto representatives have indicated a desire to partner with the MAC and the Big East. The fate of new bowls, as well as that of current ones, is determined each April by the NCAA's Bowl Licensing Committee.

But the committee could potentially decrease the MAC's future bowl options. Instead of creating new bowls, the committee could decertify some and decrease the number of openings.

This year, 59 schools were bowl-eligible, but Clemson and South Carolina declined bids following a season-ending fight.

MAC member Akron (6-5) was the only bowl-eligible school that did not receive a bid.

- John Wagner

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