Spartans to celebrate the state with MAC games


Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

In a move that will delight the Mid-American Conference and could draw mixed reviews from Spartan Nation, Michigan State has reached a long-term scheduling agreement with the three MAC schools located within state lines -- Central Michigan, Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan.

Billed as the Celebrate the State Football Series, Michigan State will play 12 games against the directional Michigan schools during the next 10 years.

The agreement includes road contests against each MAC team, beginning in 2012 with a trip to Central Michigan. The Spartans have never visited Central Michigan or Western Michigan and last played a MAC team on the road in 1899.

"I'm not sure if there's another school in the country or another conference in the country taking this approach," Western Michigan athletic director Kathy Beauregard said.

There are obvious financial gains for the MAC schools in this deal, and while Michigan State could draw some criticism, the Spartans aren't shying away from the big boys. Michigan State will continue its series with Notre Dame and play both Alabama and West Virginia in the coming years.

There will be some heat for playing the MAC, but almost every Big Ten school does it and both Central Michigan and Western Michigan are respectable programs, while Eastern Michigan is starting fresh under coach Ron English.