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Published: Wednesday, 6/16/2010

Effects of conference shuffle might trickle down to MAC

BY DONALD EMMONS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
BG athletic director Greg Christopher expects the MAC to experience a domino effect. BG athletic director Greg Christopher expects the MAC to experience a domino effect.
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Changes brought on recently by colleges switching conferences - such as Boise State and Nebraska making plans to leave their present conferences - are being felt in the Mid-American Conference.

Such moves figure to affect the MAC, in particular, when it comes to future postseason bowl bids.

Boise State's decision to leave the Western Athletic Conference for the Mountain West Conference could put an end to a recent four-year agreement between the MAC and the WAC to pit teams in the Humanitarian Bowl. The annual postseason bowl game, which matched Bowling Green against Idaho in December, has been held for 13 years at Boise State's Bronco Stadium.

"We know things are in place for this year for the MAC and the WAC," Humanitarian Bowl executive director Kevin McDonald said. "Going forward, I just don't know about that."

BG athletic director Greg Christopher has kept a close eye on the recent moves, which have generated plenty of attention for college football. He expects the MAC to experience a domino effect due to such moves as Boise State leaving the WAC to join the Mountain West Conference and Nebraska aligning itself with the Big Ten.

"In general, there is no doubt that all the realigning and changes are going to impact bowl relationships," Christopher said. "It's just tough to predict what will be the end result."

Christopher's Falcons dropped a 43-42 heartbreaker to the Vandals in the final seconds of the ESPN-televised Humanitarian Bowl contest on Dec. 30. The game may not be an option for MAC or WAC teams in the future based upon the fact that Boise State will no longer be a member of the WAC.

It would not seem logical for the game to continue being hosted by Boise State for teams from the MAC and WAC.

McDonald said Humanitarian Bowl officials are discussing the situation and monitoring all changes in college football before finally reaching a decision about the bowl's future beyond the 2010 contest, which will take place as planned (Dec. 18) between a team from the MAC and a team from the WAC.

"We really don't know at this point," McDonald said. "As a bowl, we want the dust to settle. Our preference is to be with Boise State wherever they're at."

The Humanitarian Bowl's uniqueness among postseason college bowls is that it is played on the blue field turf at Bronco Stadium, which has a seating capacity of 30,000.

The Humanitarian Bowl could become a primary postseason bowl option for the MWC instead of the WAC.

"Right now, we're a WAC bowl, and I don't know if that will change," McDonald said. "Physically, geographically, we're in Boise, Idaho. That would make sense to stay with Boise State.

"We want Boise State in our football game and would like to have Boise State in our game at least every four or five years."

Regardless of Boise State's affiliation with the WAC or the MWC, MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher anticipates the MAC will be a participant in the Humanitarian Bowl through the completion of the contract that runs through the 2013 season.

"I have no doubt about our side of the contract," Steinbrecher said.

Nebraska's decision to move to the Big Ten could also factor in future bowl scenarios for bowl-eligible MAC teams. The MAC is tied to several bowl games, including the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl (Detroit), GMAC Bowl (Mobile, Ala.), Papajohns.com Bowl (Birmingham, Ala.), Dallas Football Classic (Dallas), Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (San Diego), and the Humanitarian Bowl. Two of the bowls have ties with the Big Ten, and the addition of the Cornhusker's - a historically strong football program - could impact the MAC's bowl presence. Nebraska could potentially end up becoming a bowl opponent for a MAC team playing in the Little Ceasar's Pizza Bowl. It could also end up costing the MAC a possible at-large bowl bid for the Dallas Football Classic by potentially becoming another bowl-eligible team for the Big Ten.

Christopher thinks it's a little too early to speculate on how everything will play out based upon the current conference shuffling taking place.

"I think we need to get through it all to see if it's a ripple effect in the pond or a tidal wave," he said.

Contact Donald Emmons at:

demmons@theblade.com

or 419-724-6302.



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