During the 2018 season, the MAC witnessed six members accept bowl invitations. The MAC single-season record for bowl invitations is seven which occurred in both the 2012 and 2016 bowl seasons.
About The Mid-American Conference
Providing leadership in education and diversity, in 2019 the Mid-American Conference moves into its 74th year of service to our students.
Since its inception in 1946, the Mid-American Conference has progressively grown and developed into one of the most aggressive Division I conferences in the country. One of only 10 football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conferences, the MAC named Dr. Jon A. Steinbrecher as its eighth commissioner in March of 2009.
The league hosts championships in 23 sports, including neutral site events at some of the finest facilities in the nation – football (Ford Field, Detroit), men’s and women’s basketball (Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, Cleveland), softball (Firestone Stadium, Akron) and baseball (Sprenger Stadium, Avon, Ohio). The MAC secured a two-year contract extension with Ford Field to host the MAC Football Championship Game through the 2021 football season, anchored a six-year contract extension for the MAC Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse through the 2023 season, and stabilized a five-year contract extension through the 2020 season for the MAC Baseball Tournament at Sprenger Stadium in Avon, Ohio.
In the summer of 2014, the MAC and ESPN announced a historic 13-year rights extension deal through the 2026-27 season for expanded national television and digital distribution. This is the largest and most extensive agreement in the history of the Conference and brings long-term security for the MAC through the 2026-27 academic year.
ESPN has exclusive television and digital distribution rights for all MAC sporting events, and guarantees coverage of every football game, men’s and women’s basketball games and select Olympic sporting events. The MAC and ESPN have established on-campus production capabilities that provide a significant increase in the national coverage of baseball, softball, soccer, volleyball, wrestling and Olympic sports on ESPN platforms. This has opened up nearly 92 million households from ESPN platforms for exposure to MAC sports for the first time in Conference history. Through this ESPN partnership, the MAC and CBS Sports Network announced another four-year sublicensing agreement to expand its national coverage of football and basketball through the 2022-23 season.
For the second time in Mid-American Conference history a member institution played in one of the prestigious New Year’s Six Bowl Games, as 2016 MAC Champion Western Michigan faced Wisconsin in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on Jan. 2, 2017 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
During the 2018 season, the MAC witnessed six members accept bowl invitations. The MAC single-season record for bowl invitations is seven which occurred in both the 2012 and 2016 bowl seasons. This also marks the 11th time in MAC history to have five or more programs receive a bowl invitation (2004, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018) in a single-season. In the previous eight bowl seasons, the MAC has a record of 13-33 in 46 bowl games – 2018 (1-5); 2017 (1-4); 2016 (0-6); 2015 (3-4); 2014 (2-3); 2013 (0-5); 2012 (2-5); 2011 (4-1).
In December of 2013, former Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch finished third overall in the Heisman Trophy voting, the highest ever finish by a MAC student. Lynch was invited to the Heisman Trophy Award ceremony in New York City and became only the third MAC student-athlete to receive an invitation to the ceremony – Marshall QB Chad Pennington (1999) and Marshall WR Randy Moss (1997).
During the 2017 NFL Draft, Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis was the fifth overall selection by the Tennessee Titans. Davis’ selection was the highest ever for the Broncos program and tied the second-highest ever draft selection by a student from the MAC. It also marked the third MAC football student selected in the top five of the NFL draft over the last six seasons. In the 2014 NFL Draft, Buffalo Bulls linebacker Khalil Mack was the fifth overall selection by the Oakland Raiders. Mack’s selection was the highest-ever for the Buffalo program and the second highest ever selection for a MAC student. In the 2013 NFL Draft, Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher was selected as the first overall selection by the Kansas City Chiefs, making Fisher the first-ever football player from the MAC selected first overall in the NFL Draft.
In 2012, the MAC witnessed a record-setting seven teams receive bowl invitations, including the first ever BCS Bowl invitation with Northern Illinois playing in the Discover Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, 2013. The MAC also had four football programs ranked in the top 25 of national polls – Northern Illinois, Kent State, Toledo and Ohio—as the BCS Standings had two MAC programs in the Top 25 at the end of the regular season with No. 15 Northern Illinois and No. 25 Kent State. The MAC also set a Conference record for the most wins against FBS opponents with 16 victories.
In the fall of 2013, the MAC announced the creation of newly created bowl games in Boca Raton, Fla., Nassau, Bahamas, and Montgomery, Ala. for a six-year period (2014-2019). The creation of the Boca Raton and Bahamas Bowls were the centerpiece of a joint agreement between several FBS conferences and will be supported by several FBS conferences on a six-year rotating basis.
The Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl is owned and operated by ESPN and is played at FAU Stadium, an open-air stadium which seats nearly 30,000 fans on the campus of Florida Atlantic University. The Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl is played at Thomas A. Robinson Stadium. The Camellia Bowl, based in Montgomery, Ala., is owned and operated by ESPN and is played at the Cramton Bowl, a 25,000-seat stadium.
The MAC will increase its primary bowl agreements to a Conference-best six guaranteed bowl games coming in the next bowl cycle in 2020. The MAC will have bowl agreements with the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl; Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl, Arizona Bowl and Quick Lane Bowl, and will be in a rotation with other conferences to appear in the Camellia Bowl, Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl, Frisco Bowl and the newly created Myrtle Beach Bowl. These bowl agreements provide the MAC the opportunity to build on relationships with multiple bowl partners, expand national television exposure and broaden geographical opportunities to perform against peer FBS conferences.
In 2017, the MAC witnessed former Akron Zips defensive lineman Jason Taylor inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2017 Hall of Fame Class. Taylor, who spent 13 of his 15 seasons in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 5, 2017 in Canton, Ohio. Taylor is the first Zips player elected to the Hall of Fame and was a third-round pick out of Akron in the 1997 NFL draft. Taylor ended his career in 2011 as the Miami Dolphins’ all-time leader in sacks and forced fumbles. A six-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time AP All-Pro first-team choice, Taylor was named the 2006 NFL Defensive Player of the Year and was selected as the Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2007.
Joining the list of MAC alum heading to Canton, former Marshall wide receiver Randy Moss increased this number to three, as Moss was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2018 Hall of Fame Class. Moss, who was named MAC Offensive Player of the Year in 1997, posted 78 catches for 1,709 yards and 28 touchdowns with Marshall in 1996 and added 96 receptions for 1,820 yards and 26 touchdowns in 1997. Moss was selected in the first round, 21st overall, of the 1998 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. Moss spent 14 seasons in the NFL with Minnesota, Oakland, New England, Tennessee and San Francisco and amassed 982 career receptions for 15,292 yards and 156 touchdowns and was selected to five Pro Bowls. Moss becomes the third former MAC football standout to be selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Moss joins Jason Taylor of Akron and former Kent State linebacker Jack Lambert of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Moss was a member of the Marshall Thundering Herd, who competed in the MAC before departing after the 2004 season.
MAC football alums continue to make strides in the NFL as former Miami quarterback Ben Roethlisberger led the NFL in passing yards with 5,129 yards for Pittsburgh in 2018. In addition, former Central Michigan wide receiver Antonio Brown led the NFL in receiving touchdowns with 15 for Pittsburgh last season. Five former MAC players were named to the 2019 NFL Pro Bowl in Orlando – Antonio Brown (CMU), WR Pittsburgh; Eric Fisher (CMU), OT Kansas City; Khalil Mack (BUF), DE Chicago; Brett Kern (TOL), P Tennessee and Brandon Brooks (MIA), OG Philadelphia.
Kent State’s Julian Edelman was named Super Bowl MVP as part of New England’s 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Edelman, a nine-year NFL veteran, won his third Super Bowl as a member of the Patriots, and became the first former MAC student-athlete to be named NFL Super Bowl MVP, and only the seventh wide receiver in NFL history to be named Super Bowl MVP. Also, Sean McVay, the youngest head coach in the NFL (33 years old during 2018 NFL season), led the Los Angeles Rams to the NFC Title and Super Bowl appearance against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Northern Illinois scored the final 20 points in the 2018 Marathon MAC Football Championship Game to turn a 29-10 deficit into a 30-29 win over Buffalo for the Huskies fourth MAC football title in the last eight seasons. NIU’s junior defensive end Sutton Smith was named the MAC Defensive Player of the Year and Smith earned First Team All-American honors by The Associated Press, Sports Illustrated, ESPN and College Football News.com and Second Team All-American recognition by Walter Camp Foundation, the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA).
The MAC had nine draft selections in the 2019 NFL Draft, along with 36 former MAC football student athletes who either signed NFL rookie free agent contracts or received invites to rookie mini-camps with various NFL clubs. The MAC modern era record for number of selections in an NFL Draft is 11 draft selections, which happened two years ago (2017 NFL Draft) and in the 2005 NFL Draft.
The selections in the 2019 NFL Draft – DB Sean Bunting (Central Michigan) by Tampa Bay (2nd Round, 39th overall); OT Max Scharping (Northern Illinois) by Houston (2nd Round, 55th overall); WR Diontae Johnson (Toledo) by Pittsburgh (3rd Round, 66th overall); DE Maxx Crosby (Eastern Michigan) by Oakland (4th Round, 106th overall); DE Sutton Smith (Northern Illinois) by Pittsburgh (6th Round, 175th overall); DB Ka’dar Hollman (Toledo) by Green Bay (6th Round, 185th overall); DB Xavier Crawford (Central Michigan) by Houston (6th Round, 195th overall); LB Ulysees Gilbert (Akron) by Pittsburgh (6th Round, 207th overall) and WR Scott Miller (Bowling Green) by Tampa Bay (6th Round, 208th overall).
The Teams of The Mid-American Conference