College football information was flowing in all directions Tuesday at Ford Field during the annual Mid-American Conference Media Day.
Here are five things that came out of the gathering:
1. The “participation report” is likely coming to the MAC.
With many states expected to legalize sports gambling, commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said discussions are heating up in regard to a weekly participation report.
That’s something a little different than the injury report used by the NFL. It would be less specific, more of a “he can or can’t play” type of thing.
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“Some time ago, five or six years ago I believe, the Pac-12 Conference raised the issue of mandating injury reports in select sports,” Steinbrecher said. “While the discussions did not result in any action at that time, in light of the advent of legalized sports wagering, the need exists to again consider the implementation of a participation report as opposed to an injury report. We need to consider HIPAA and FERPA rules in the development of these policies, and transparency will be imperative.”
Would it cover all college sports, men and women? Just football? Stay tuned because nobody knows for sure right now.
“It will be something that comes out of the NCAA oversight committee,” Steinbrecher said. “My sense is it will be something chewed on over the course of this year. I would note the (Atlantic Coast Conference) does an injury report on a voluntary basis right now.”
2. Fly high, Jolly Roger.
Steinbrecher is hoping all MAC schools will establish a new tradition with the MAC Jolly Roger flag this season.
In past years, Steinbrecher emailed a copy of the MAC Jolly Roger to a school whenever it won a nonconference or bowl game.
“This year, we will take a step further,” Steinbrecher said. “I have provided the MAC Jolly Roger to each of our institutions and have asked (with) each victory, home or away, that that flag be run up the flagpole and remain there until the next game. I hope we develop a fun tradition of players, students, boosters, whoever, taking part in this collective victory celebration.”
The MAC continues to battle for more respect on the national stage. Steinbrecher took issue with the American Athletic Conference’s move to call itself a “Power 6” league worthy of being grouped with the “Power 5,” which includes the Big Ten, Pac-12, Southeastern, Atlantic Coast and Big 12 conferences.
“The challenge with this Power 6 stuff is it’s undefinable,” Steinbrecher said. “Go to the NCAA rulebooks … not in there anywhere. Go anywhere else … there’s no definition of it. I get what they’re trying to do. They’re trying to fight back on this idea that just because we have this governmental designation doesn’t mean that we’re not a quality team. Somehow, someway, we have to continue to fight back on these labels being slapped. If you can play, you can play.”
3. Midweek games are here to stay.
Television exposure is a huge deal for conferences like the MAC. There are quite a few midweek games on the slate again this year, and Steinbrecher believes the positives far outweigh the negatives.
He did point out that midweek starting times have been moving up in recent years in response to fans’ concerns.
“We’ve been doing midweek football I believe since 1999,” Steinbrecher said. “It’s an ongoing discussion, but we’ve also just recently entered into a new contract that takes us out another nine years. As I sit here today, I don’t anticipate any changes. We’re asking our fans once or twice a year for home games to come out and join us. It’s a balancing act.”
4. RedHawks will be on the air.
The majority of Miami’s games will be televised in the upcoming season.
The schedule is as follows: Sept. 1 at home against Marshall (ESPN-Plus); Sept. 8 at home against Cincinnati (Raycom/ESPN3); Sept. 15 at Minnesota (Big Ten Network); Oct. 6 at Akron (ESPN-Plus); Oct. 30 at Buffalo (ESPN2/ESPNU); Nov. 7 at home against Ohio (ESPN2/ESPNU); Nov. 14 at Northern Illinois (ESPN2/ESPNU); Nov. 20 at home against Ball State (ESPNU/ESPN-Plus).
The MAC Championship game on Nov. 30 at Ford Field will be televised by ESPN2.
ESPN-Plus is a new direct-to-consumer subscription video service that operates through the ESPN app. Cost is $4.99 a month or $49.99 if you pay annually.
5. Four-team playoff: “If it ain’t broke, don’t monkey with it”
That’s the view of Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff. He was on hand for Media Day and said the current CFP format is working just fine.
“Most people are really happy with the way the playoff is going and happy that we have a playoff and happy with the format,” Hancock said. “Occasionally you will hear people say they’d like to do something different, but not very often.
“One of the great things about college football is people have opinions about it, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We have a sport that people care about, so I always enjoy hearing people’s opinions.
“There’s no talk about expanding the playoff among the university presidents or the conference commissioners who run the CFP. The reason for that is, first of all, we have eight more years on this contract. But second of all, four is the right number because it keeps the focus on the regular season. It doesn’t add more games for the players, it doesn’t interfere with the academic calendar, but it lets us decide the championship on the field. And really the regular season is the playoff, unlike so many other sports that put all the marbles into a big postseason and the regular season doesn’t matter as much. We have the best regular season in sports, and my feeling is if it ain’t broke, don’t monkey with it.”