DETROIT, Mich. (WLNS) – You know football season has arrived when conferences start to hold their annual media days, or in the Mid-American Conference’s case ‘media day.’
Ford Field, in Detroit, was buzzing on Tuesday morning with all 12 coaches in the MAC in attendance and they were joined by two players from each of the their teams.
This year will mark the 75th season of football in the MAC and let’s just say its commissioner Jon Steinbrecher woke everyone up with his opening remarks. He was the first to speak in ‘The D’ and he did not bite his tongue when it came to the NCAA and how it has handled the new laws surrounding Name, Image, and Likeness.
“It is unfortunate that we do not have a single national standard guiding us,” said Steinbrecher. “It is a challenge to run national championships without national standards of conduct. The dye was cast on this issue two years ago when the State of California passed NIL legislation. At that time, the NCAA had two choices. One, pursue a legal strategy challenging California, and/or implementing its own NIL legislation. The first was not pursued; the second was not accomplished. As a result we are left with little direction at this time. Hopefully Congress will act soon on this matter. For the student athletes. I view NIL as a tremendous multidisciplinary educational opportunity.”
Steinbrecher was also pretty adamant on another issue. He wants the athletes and coaches in the MAC to be/ get vaccinated. If they’re not by the time the season starts on Thursday, September 2 then they will be required to be tested.
As for the teams in the MAC. How will they fare in 2021? The MAC released its preseason media football poll on Tuesday and not one team from the state is considered to be an early favorite to win the West Division crown.
Central Michigan was pegged to finish in fourth, in the West, in what will be Jim McElwain’s third year in Mount Pleasant and after finishing with a .500 record (3-3) in 2020 he said on Tuesday he’s comfortable with that ranking.
“You know, I think this year more than any year it’s a little bit different you know?,” said McElwain. “I think we’re picked fourth — well we should be. We got our tails beat by Ball State. We got our tails beat by Western. We got our tails beat by Toledo. Well, those three are ahead of us right? So that was a pretty easy pick because everybody’s back right? Everybody’s got their same team. So for us, it’s really the development of our young players. It’s really gotta push us over the top.”
Out of the three teams from the state of Michigan, Western is receiving the most recognition. The Broncos were picked to finish third in the West and once you find out what they’re working with up front you’ll understand why.
The average height and weight for the Bronco’s offensive line is 6’4 and 300 pounds and Portland alum Mark Brooks could be the cornerstone for this year’s line. Also, his teammates love him.
“Mark is the nicest human being you’ll ever meet,” said WMU senior lineman Mike Caliendo. “He’s a great guy. Talk about building relationships, me and him have been playing golf together. Mark’s just an awesome guy. He grew up in Portland, I think? He loves to fish and hunt and he’s passionate about it. He’ll talk to you as long as you want to talk to him so, he’s a great guy.”
Broncos coach Tim Lester knows how blessed the program has been, at least for the past six-seven years, when it comes to their offensive line. Okemos alum Taylor Moton was a key contributor to the Broncos success and is now one of the highest paid tackles in the NFL.
“We lean on them. I give them their own meeting room,” said Lester. “It’s like a special meeting room. They eat first. Maybe it’s because I was a quarterback? I take care of those guys because they took care of me. The reason I can stand up right is ’cause of them. So I hope we can keep that tradition going.”
“It starts up front,” said WMU’s sophomore quarterback Kaleb Eleby. “You know, having those group of guys up front. Mike (Caliendo), Trevor Campbell, Wesley French, Dylan Deatherage, Mark Brooks. All those guys are all veteran guys. They are hard workers doing the extra. When the offensive line is doing those things, as quarterback, I feel pretty good.”
Western will open the season at the Big House taking on the University of Michigan on September 4, which means the big boys will have a big task ahead of them in week one.