NCF Nation: Jon Steinbrecher

MAC, Temple negotiate buyout

March, 7, 2012
Temple has been granted its immediate release from the MAC and will pay a $6 million fee to leave for another conference, the school and league announced in a joint statement Wednesday.

The Owls are set to join the Big East, sources told A Big East news conference to introduce a new member has been set for later this afternoon in New York. Temple coach Steve Addazio, athletic director Bill Bradshaw and Board of Trustees Chairman Lewis Katz are all scheduled to attend.

“Temple University requested to be released from its obligation, as a football-only member of providing two season’s prior notice before departing the Mid-American Conference," MAC commissioner Jon A. Steinbrecher said in a statement. "As a result, the conference and its member institutions engaged in a dialogue with Temple regarding an appropriate resolution. We have come to an agreement that is fair to the parties involved.

“As a result, the Mid-American Conference has adjusted its football divisional alignment. Bowling Green State University will compete in the East Division that will consist of seven member institutions. The West Division will have six members. The eight-game conference schedule should be released within several weeks.”

UMass begins play in the MAC this season, so that means the league remains at 13 teams despite Temple's departure. The MAC has played with 13 teams since 2007., so it is used to an unbalanced divisional alignment. When asked about whether the MAC would try to get to 14 teams with Temple's departure, Steinbrecher said in a brief phone interview:

"It's too soon to make any determinations. We'll be very deliberate. There's no reason to rush into anything. We'll sit back and examine the landscape. We'll observe, we'll think strategically as a league and if there are moves that make sense that strengthen or improve us, we'll make those moves."

Bowling Green moves back to the East, where it has traditionally played. The Falcons were moved to the West to make room for UMass.

“We never left the East on the playing field so nothing changes from our standpoint,” Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson said in a statement. “Regardless of division we still play eight MAC opponents, but all things being equal we would prefer to remain in the East with our traditional Ohio MAC rivals, as well as continuing the ‘Battle of I-75’ with Toledo.”

Here is the MAC divisional alignment:

East Division: Akron, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Kent State, UMass, Miami (Ohio), Ohio

West Division: Ball State, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois, Toledo, Western Michigan

MAC is ready for expansion

May, 4, 2010
With talk of conference expansion gracing newspapers and websites nearly every day, every conference seems to be working on a contingency plan just in case its membership takes a hit.

The Mid-American Conference is no different. Even though its membership hasn’t been linked to much expansion talk, MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said his conference is ready for whatever might happen.

“I don’t anticipate losing member institutions,” Steinbrecher said during last week’s MAC conference call. “I guess at the same time we’re prepared as a conference and we have the mechanisms in place to move forward if we need to. You never want to lose institutions, certainly that wouldn’t be anyone’s desire, I don’t believe, but we’re ready for any contingency that we would face.”

The lynchpin in conference expansion and possible realignment is the Big Ten, which was the first conference to announce plans for expansion. While Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany hasn’t mapped out the details of the expansion, published reports state that the conference could move to 12 teams or as many as 20. And with the MAC right in the middle of the Big Ten’s footprint, several of the conference’s 13 schools could be up for consideration.

"Those conferences are going to do what's in their best interest, and I'm sure at some point it will pull some teams out from other conferences," Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson said on the conference call. "I think people have seen this on the horizon for a number of years. I'm sure it will have some impact on us but what exactly is I think is anybody's best guess."

While Steinbrecher wouldn’t share the specifics of his contingency plan, he did state that the conference already has been working on identifying new membership should a need arise.

“One of the things I think conference offices do anytime, and we’ve been doing for some time, is you continue to evaluate the landscape and the environment and I think you’re continually asking the question of, ‘Are there people out there that are the right fit programmatically, that fit philosophically, and would elevate your conference,’” Steinbrecher said.

The MAC is no stranger to having teams poached from its conference. After the 2004 season, Central Florida and Marshall left for Conference USA, which had lost some of its membership to the Big East. That left the MAC with 12 teams for two years before they added Temple as a full-time football member in 2007. That move has been scrutinized for years, even to the point where Steinbrecher’s been asked on several occasions whether Temple would be the first team ushered out should another conference come looking for a school.

Temple signed a six-year contract with the MAC in 2005. With the recent success of Temple’s football program, the re-emergence of the basketball team and the allure of the Philadelphia market, the Owls could be a prime target for expansion.

When Steinbrecher was asked point blank whether he wanted Temple in the MAC, he said: “We’re very pleased they’re a part of our league.”

Steinbrecher reiterated that his conference is not alone in trying to make sure that all of its bases are covered and that it’s not caught off guard when expansion does finally come to fruition. He said he doesn’t deal in hypothetical situations, but he’s fairly confident that the MAC will be prepared for whatever comes its way.

“I believe we are positioned if there are opportunities that we would act upon those,” Steinbrecher said. “We’ll need to continue to have membership discussions on those things and so on. But like, I got to imagine, every other conference out there, we’re paying attention and we’ll be prepared to do what is necessary to ensure the growth and stability of the Mid-American Conference.”
For the first time in its 64-year history, the Mid-American Conference will have five bowl tie-ins -- three primary and two secondary -- through 2013.

The MAC’s three primary bowl agreements are with the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl (Detroit, Mich.), GMAC Bowl (Mobile, Ala.) and Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl (Boise, Idaho). The secondary agreements are with the Bowl (2010-2013), the Dallas Football Classic (2010 and 2012) and the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (formerly the Emerald Bowl)/San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl/New Mexico Bowl (2011 and 2013).

The Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl replaces the International Bowl, which hosted the MAC’s No. 3 selection the past four years in Toronto. The International Bowl ceased its operations.
“I am very pleased with our bowl agreements for the next four seasons,” MAC commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher said in a statement. “We have a very solid relationship with our primary bowl partners and we look forward to continuing to expand these relationships. The addition of the secondary agreements provides our conference the opportunity to build on relationships with multiple bowl groups.”

The secondary agreement with the Bowl will come into play as a backup to the SEC No. 8/9 and Big East No. 5/6 selections. The MAC will be the second backup in the Dallas Football Classic in 2010 and 2012.

The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl/Poinsettia Bowl/New Mexico Bowl secondary agreement for 2011 and 2013 is as follows: the MAC will back-up Army in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (2011) and Poinsettia Bowl (2013) with the understanding that if Army is not bowl eligible, the WAC will give up its spot in the New Mexico Bowl and provide a team to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and Poinsettia Bowl. The MAC will then provide a team to the New Mexico Bowl against a team from the Mountain West.