MAC life: It ain't that easy going big

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C-Notes loves Mid-American Conference football. The ratio of diplomas to NFL contracts is something like 50 to 1, which means their helmets are screwed on pretty straight. Nobody's a pushover, either: In the last three years, almost every team has gone to a bowl game — well, except for Kent State ["Gone in a Flash," November 29]. And with the best bowl record this century of any conference in Division I-A, we sure as hell know they can scrap with the big guys. Give Commissioner Rick Chryst and his staff credit, too, for sacking up on the conference bowl schedule. You'll find two of its four games wedged somewhere you'd never expect: January 6 and 7, the weekend between the Rose Bowl and the BCS Championship, each of which should pay it combatants roughly twenty times what Western Michigan and Ohio University will bank from the International Bowl and GMAC Bowl, respectively. The MAC's Gary Richter says those dates are great for fans who need more time to make their travel plans. "It also allows coaches a couple of extra weeks for practice," he says. But maybe Chryst and company have been smoking from a different kind of bowl. Though the MAC champion plays in the Motor City Bowl, historically they've had to earn it. But this year, Central Michigan was awarded the game two days before they became kosher by slobberknockering Ohio, 31-10. And the Chippewas -- who at some point after August learned how to throw the ball, making them arguably the league's most exciting MAC bowler -- are stuck playing Motown the day after Christmas. Still, it could be worse. The conference's fourth bowl team, Northern Illinois, got banished to San Diego. Wait a sec... -- Jason Nedley

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