Before I get started with where the MAC coaches stand, I wanted to express my apologies to Doc Holliday and Marshall. Holliday was accidentally left off the C-USA coaches list that was posted last week because of a cut and paste error. However, I think we all know that Holliday is safe after this season. I actually think he might have the best shot of all the new C-USA coaches to put his team in a bowl.
With that said… Let’s talk MAC. The MAC has three new coaches and five coaches in their second season. There’s a lot of security in this conference, but there also are a couple coaches that need to win to stay off the hot seat.
Needs to win right away
Doug Martin, Kent State: Martin has a lot of history working against him considering the Golden Flashes haven’t been in a bowl game since 1972. Martin hasn’t had a winning season since taking over at Kent State in 2004 and has had just one 6-6 season. However, this figures to be his best team with the return of running back Eugene Jarvis and several young players with experience.
Seat could get toasty midseason
Bill Cubit, Western Michigan: The Broncos have been up and down the past three seasons, but their struggles at the end of 2008 and most of last year raised some flags. The Broncos are breaking in a new running back and a new quarterback this season, so there’s no telling what to expect. However, the West Division won’t be as strong as it’s been, so WMU has a chance to make some noise.
Stan Parrish, Ball State: Last year’s 2-10 record was a pretty deep slide considering the Cardinals were coming off the best campaign in school history. The problem wasn’t necessarily the losses, but the fact that the Cardinals weren’t competitive, especially early in the season. While Ball State hasn’t had a lot of success in recent history, Parish could still be on a short leash.
Chillin’ in a lounge chair
Frank Solich, Ohio: Solich has quietly built a power in Athens, Ohio, and the Bobcats should be among the favorites to win the East Division. It’s taken Solich some time to get Ohio back on track, but the recruiting has been strong and the offense has been stout. Some key quarterbacking play could prove the difference this year.
Al Golden, Temple: Golden has become one of the hottest coaching prospects in the country because he’s taken the Owls from obscurity to a conference championship contender. His team fell a win short of the East Division title, but with a strong backfield and defense, it will be in the hunt again this year.
Dave Clawson, Bowling Green: Clawson might hit some unexpected turbulence this year after losing key seniors Tyler Sheehan and Freddie Barnes, but he knew that coming in. He’ll have a young team this season that he’ll be able to mold in the style he wants, but making a bowl game might be dicey as his young players continue to learn.
Jerry Kill, Northern Illinois: Kill has done wonders with Northern Illinois during his two seasons. He’s gone to two consecutive bowl games and push for a MAC West Division title. This year, the Huskies will be the favorite in the West with a stellar group of running backs leading the way.
Mike Haywood, Miami-Ohio: Haywood had to change the culture at Miami-Ohio when he arrived and as a result, the RedHawks won just one game last year. However, the team did get better as the season progressed and showed there was some talent in the program, especially from quarterback Zac Dysert. The RedHawks likely will struggle again, but Haywood will get time to build the program.
Tim Beckman, Toledo: I’ve said many times that Toledo was one of the most disappointing non-AQ teams from a year ago because it wasted a lot of senior talent. However, the Rockets should be interesting this year with a slew of young players, some of which earned major playing time a year ago. I almost put Beckman in the category above, but as a second-year coach, he should be safe as long as his team makes some positive strides.
Ron English, Eastern Michigan: The Eagles were one of two teams to go winless last season and this season has the potential to be equally as bad with several defections in the offseason. The Eagles worked with about a half of a squad in the spring and will have to incorporate the rest of its players into the fold in the fall.
New coach, jury is out
Jeff Quinn, Buffalo: Quinn hasn’t had the best luck after losing some players, including starting quarterback Zach Maynard, and this might be a tough rebuilding year. The continuity was hit and miss this spring and he’ll probably experience more of the same when the season starts.
Rob Ianello, Akron: There’s a lot of young talent at Akron and the Zips could surprise this year, but I think it’s going to be at least a year before Ianello’s system starts running at full speed.
Dan Enos, Central Michigan: Enos probably has the most pressure on him considering Central Michigan has dominated the conference in recent years, but he’s without the star quarterback that created all of that hype. It’s hard to count out the returning MAC champs, but this could be a tough year.