The MAC released its 2017 football schedules last week. The conference does not play a single Saturday game in November. Times for the games a TBA. But, we can presume games almost every game scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday will be at night.
Average night time lows in MAC country in November are in the 30s. Besides the weeknight inconvenience, the weather will make these games miserable for attending fans. This is the sort of occurrence that begs the question why MAC schools even have football.
It’s not for money. These games are on weeknights to furnish ESPN with football inventory during the middle of the week. The MAC has moved the game to capitalize on their windfall TV deal from ESPN, which pays about $10 million per year, for the entire conference.
Per school, that money covers little. Toledo (57.61 percent) and Bowling Green (59.14 percent) are the only schools receiving less than 60 percent of revenue from subsidies. They were also the only schools receiving less than $17 million per year.
Eastern Michigan went to a bowl game in 2016, the same year students and faculty asked the school to drop football because athletic subsidies were too costly.
It’s not for glory either. MAC schools make a partial effort to balance budgets by serving as doormats for major conference teams in non-conference play. The best thing the conference can hope for is a New Years Six Bowl bid. Western Michigan, 13-0 with wins over two B1G teams, may not have even achieved that had Navy closed the season stronger.
MAC jobs don’t even serve as adequate stepping stones. P.J. Fleck did not land a major job in the initial round of carousel movement. Minnesota came calling afterward. Multiple MAC head coaches have left for middle-tier Power 5 assistant jobs.
The ultimate reason for those schools to have football teams, besides keeping athletic department officials employed, is as a fun extracurricular activity for students and alums. Those students and alums have been left out in the cold.