|DETROIT — The priority of the Mid-American Conference athletics directors is to maintain the conference’s status quo with berths in three college football bowl games.
Changes Are Likely in the MAC's future alliance with the GMAC Bowl
Bob Gennarelli, the deputy commissioner of the MAC, emphasized that point Monday night while addressing members of the MAC News Media Association at Ford Field.
“Our ultimate goal is that we have to maintain three guaranteed slots in the postseason,” Gennarelli said.
After NCAA approval for the Congressional Bowl in Washington, D.C. and the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Bowl for the coming season, there are 34 bowl games, which puts 68 teams into the postseason.
“We are kind of approaching the ceiling ... in filling slots,” Gennarelli said.
This year, the Motor City Bowl in Detroit has the first selection from the MAC to face the No. 7 team from the Big Ten. “That doesn’t mean the (conference) champion. It just means they have the number one selection,” Gennarelli said.
This will be the 12th Motor City Bowl and the MAC has been involved for all 12 years.
He later added the MAC’s two division champions are protected and will go to bowl games.
The GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Ala., has the second selection from the MAC this season. The GMAC Bowl is in its 10th year and its the eighth straight year with a MAC tie-in. The MAC team will face the No. 2 selection from Conference USA.
The MAC then puts its third team into the third annual International Bowl in Toronto against the No. 4 team from the Big East.
The Motor City Bowl is Dec. 26 while the International Bowl is slated for January 3 and the GMAC Bowl on January 6.
The biggest change for the MAC could come in the GMAC Bowl. The contacts with both Conference USA and the MAC end with the GMAC Bowl after the Jan. 6 game in 2009.
The GMAC Bowl has reportedly contacted the Southeastern Conference, the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East, the Western Athletic Conference and the Sun Belt about becoming part of its game.
“Where we stand is, we’re talking to a lot of people and we’ll probably make some changes,” GMAC Bowl president Jerry Silverstein told the Mobile Press-Register in May.
“Mobile has been very honest with us about where they would like to go," noted Gennarelli. "There are conversations ongoing right now how we can help the GMAC Bowl achieve what they want to. It’s pretty simple. They would like a BCS (conference) tie-in on one side and still involve the MAC and potentially C-USA.”
There will be an opening in the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise as the ACC plans to end its arrangement with that game. The MAC could become part of a rotation between the GMAC and Humanitarian bowls.
“Rick (Chryst, the MAC commissioner) and our ADs are very optimistic we’re going to remain in Mobile on a pretty regular basis ... I’m not going to tell you it’s going to be every year,” Gennarelli said.
There is also the possibility that the MAC could be the back-up conference for the Congressional Bowl. That game, to be played on Dec. 20, is to match either Navy or Army against the No. 9 team from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“Is there a contractual agreement in place with the Congressional Bowl right now? No,” Gennarelli said. “Is there a relationship in place? Yes. A MAC team could be there.”
The MAC was also hoping to be in the mix for the PapaJohns.com Bowl in Birmingham, Ala. Gennarelli however said that relationship has changed and the MAC is not involved.
“The goal is three guaranteed slots and if a fourth presents itself that’s great,” Gennarelli said.
All 32 bowls currently have guaranteed tie-ins to fill their slots, leaving no at-large berths. At-large berths would become available if a conference does not have enough bowl-eligible teams. To fill an at-large berth, all seven-win teams (or better) have to be chosen first and placed in a game before a 6-6 team can be selected.
Jack Carle is senior sports editor at the Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune