The Mid-American Conference is great. It may not produce football national championship teams, but it is consistently produces some of the most fun football you will watch all season.
There is more to the conference than just fun games, though, and in light of Central Michigan left tackle Eric Fisher being selected first overall in the 2013 NFL Draft, let's take a look at the best moments in MAC history.
1. Northern Illinois crashes the BCS.
It ended predictably, but the 2012 Huskies can hold their heads high after becoming the first MAC team to break into the BCS, going to the Orange Bowl, to Kirk Herbstreit's dismay.
The Huskies stayed within a touchdown of the Florida State Seminoles until the third quarter, but didn't have the talent to finish the upset. First-year starting passer Jordan Lynch finished seventh in the nation in rushing with 1,815 yards, setting a new record for rushing yards by a quarterback.
2. Eric Fisher goes first overall in the 2013 NFL Draft.
The MAC has produced a steady stream of NFL talent for some time now, but it doesn't really have a reputation for producing high draft picks. Well, you can check that off the list, as Fisher became the first MAC player to be taken first overall in the draft, going to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Why did recruiting services/big schools miss on Eric Fisher? One year of tackle/tight end, and he's added 70 lbs in the last 60 months.— SB Nation Recruiting (@SBNRecruiting) April 25, 2013
It's been a long and surprising journey for Fisher, who came to CMU as a lightly recruited two-star recruit back in 2009. The past few years have not been classic seasons for the Chippewas, but Fisher's play on the offensive line was not the reason for their struggles. The team went only 7-6 in 2012, but allowed only 15 sacks in 13 games, tied for 18th in the nation. In 2012, he was selected for both Sports Illustrated and the AP's All-America teams (second- and third-team, respectively), and was named first team All-MAC.
And then, on stage with NFL Network's Deion Sanders, he shouted out the MAC, calling it a "great conference" that can hang with the big boys.
"Eric had the opportunity to play against Iowa and Michigan State, which are large schools," Chiefs coach Andy Reid later said. "I don't want to slight the conference because the MAC has a good conference. They are Division I football. You had the Senior Bowl, and whatever he was presented, he played well against. We went off of that, our evaluation of him as a person, and what we thought was best for this football team. "
SUCK IT BIGGER CONFERENCES— Hustle Belt (@HustleBelt) April 26, 2013
3. God creates Tuesdays.
There is little purpose for Tuesdays. Generally, nothing good happens on Tuesdays. That is, unless two MAC teams are shooting the lights out on a Tuesday, which I suspect was the Good Lord's intention from the beginning.
There have been a lot of really fun MAC games on Tuesday nights, but Nov. 1, 2011 takes the cake. NIU and Toledo wish to know if you are entertained by 123 points in regulation?
#MACTION #MACTION #MACTION
4. The Days of Upsets.
Teams from BCS conferences have long scheduled MAC teams for easy September wins. Most of the time, things go basically how you would expect. Sometimes, specifically Sept. 20, 2003 and Sept. 22, 2012, they do not.
On that day in 2003, Marshall beat sixth-ranked Kansas State, Toledo beat ninth-ranked Pitt, and Northern Illinois beat 21st-ranked Alabama. On one day in 2012, Fisher's Chippewas beat Iowa, Northern Illinois beat Kansas, Western Michigan beat UConn, and Ball State beat South Florida. Neither was a bad day at the office.
Matthew Holst/Getty Images
5. Randy Moss, 1997 vintage.
Moss was a consensus All-American in 1997, and it was easy to see why. He was one of (if not the most) dominant players in the country, and ultimately finished fourth in Heisman voting while winning the Biletnikoff Award. Here's his former Herd teammate, Aaron Ferguson, with SB Nation's Spencer Hall:
AF: [Moss] liked to wrestle offensive linemen.
AF: Yeah, he'd walk into the locker room and challenge an offensive lineman.
SH: Did he win?
AF: He won his share. If it went to the ground he lost, but otherwise he won as many as he lost. He's strong as a bear.
His numbers were, and remain, staggering: 13 games. 96 receptions. 1,820 yards. 26 touchdowns.
Watch his film, and try to keep your mouth closed. The highlights start about 40 seconds in. Heads up: The music is NSFW-ish.
6. 1973 Miami.
The 1973 Redskins from Oxford, Ohio (nicknamed "The Cradle of Coaches" for producing Paul Brown, Woody Hayes, and scads of other greats) might be, on paper, the best MAC team ever. They went 13-0 and defeated four future BCS-conference teams in Purdue, South Carolina, Cincinnati, and Florida. The team only finished 15th in the AP poll.
7. 2003 Miami.
This Miami team, called the RedHawks at this point, overcame a season-opening loss to Iowa to reel off 13 straight wins and finished the season ranked 11th in the BCS standings. Led by future Super Bowl-winner Ben Roethlisberger, Miami beat Northwestern, Cincinnati, and Louisville and twice beat Bowling Green, who was ranked in the top 20 each time.
The team beat Louisville 49-28 in the GMAC Bowl that year. You might remember that as the game during which Louisville players discovered John L. Smith was leaving for Michigan State at halftime.
8. Linemen are the best, Part 819,283,291.
9. The other cradle of coaches.
Kent State in 1973 was a pretty good team. However, some of the members of that team have become some of the sport's greatest icons. The Golden Flashes were coached by Don James, who went on to win a national championship at Washington.
The team, meanwhile, featured future NFL Hall of Famer Jack Lambert, Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel (who also spent most of the 1990s as the head coach at Toledo), and of course, Alabama head coach and four-time BCS champion Nick Saban. Saban also spent a season as head coach at Toledo in 1990, going 9-2 before leaving to become defensive coordinator for the Browns.
10. Bowling Green chopping and hushing the Swamp dot GIF.