What is MACtion? Touchdowns, that's what. You fine cats are counting down to college football season as you see it: football teams played by five-star adonises and behemoth linemen who play for teams that actually make money. MAC football is a different entity. It's off the beaten path. If we want team apparel, we can't just walk down to the local haberdashery and pick up a Western Michigan shirt or Akron barbecue grill. We put in an order to have it specially made by a small family in the Yukon Territories. Countless numbers of sled dogs die every time somebody wants an Ohio Bobcats Christmas tree stand.
But you are not interested in our travails. You want the dirt on these 13 different teams. They play such maddeningly fun football because they are all, for the most part, the exact same team, just with different colors and mascots and interstates which pass through their county somewhere. It is compelling. It is MACtion. But how MACtion are they? I've ranked the following teams' MACTION QUOTIENT. We do not use a sliding scale, but rather an ancient Babylonian method of associating objects or ideas in lieu of a number. Confused yet? Then just keep reading. At some point it might make sense.
Toledo - In one season, they had back-to-back scores of 63-60, 66-63, googolplex-ERR DIV/0. But it's not just the perverse amount of points: it's the BCS teams that willingly go to Toledo and then lose: Pittsburgh, Purdue, Colorado, Kansas, Cincinnati. And these are teams that NEVER lose bad games! They have a quarterback that was drafted by the San Diego Padres having not played baseball in five years, other than RBI Baseball (which is a given) and a coach who is probably younger than you. Expect nothing from them except what you would least likely except.
MACTION QUOTIENT: A glass factory being detonated by a fourth down conversion (note: either a factory that manufactures glass, or a factory made of glass, is acceptable)
Northern Illinois - You know all about Jordan Lynch and how he looked slow and ineffective against Florida State when having to carry 55 players on his back, rather than asking them to get open or block for him or get him lemonade or anything. And yes, their coach left. And yes, their athletic director left. DeKalb is now a ghost town, creating more space for Lynch and [INSERT NAME OF WIDE RECEIVER HERE] to roam free and score 60 points a game against the MAC West.
MACTION QUOTIENT: A pack of wild dogs trying to bury a land mine
Miami (Ohio) - This is a school located in Oxford, Ohio and is nicknamed the RedHawks. Just as it sounds, the campus is actually a deserted film set for a movie about college football that was abruptly halted during production and became forgotten over time. Eventually some nearby feral teenagers began inhabiting the place, showered, learned the tongue of civilization, and assumed its identity. Ben Roethlisberger also went there.
MACTION QUOTIENT: A terrifying hybrid monster with the shrinking head of a fictional bird and the body of the statue of a real coach
Bowling Green - In a world where the conference is all about the O, the Falcons have gone against the grain by putting the ball in the hands of their defense, usually through a three-and-out, then holding the other team to less than 20 points and hoping for a clerical error to give them 21 points. Their home stadium is also known for insane weather patterns, from mud to fog to wind. In an attempt to curb the wind, they planted a tree.
MACTION QUOTIENT: An obese man swallowing a medium one-topping pizza in 30 seconds
Western Michigan - For six long Bill Cubit-led years WMU basically played like the Clemson of the MAC. Now they're operated by rising young slogan alchemist P.J. Fleck, asking everybody to Row the Boat, possess a "nekton mentality" and other slogans which require you to look up Wikipedia before being fired up. Also their punter's name is J. Schroeder. That's not short for anything. J. is his legal first name.
MACTION QUOTIENT: Two brawny men on American Gladiators pedestals just slapping each other in the cheeks with oars
Ohio - All teams seem to have some type of identity or definition. The Ohio Bobcats lack any consistent definition. They are undefined. If they were a dictionary you would open it and it would be empty, containing a smaller dictionary, which contains an even smaller dictionary. Inside of that one would be a tiny flask of moonshine.
MACTION QUOTIENT: A spinner from the game of Life, where all the options are different frat parties
Central Michigan - The offense centers around a running back named Zurlon Tipton, which sounds exactly like an alias one would use if a football team were to act as a front for an organization making counterfeit episodes of Home Improvement. Have you no sense of decency, estranged son of Earl Hindman?
MACTION QUOTIENT: A backroom game of Russian Roulette at an Indian casino, where the gun is a Super Soaker 50
Ball State - It doesn't look it on the surface, but this midwestern Indiana school is the most Hollywood school in the MAC. Actually that makes entirely too much sense. They gave us Letterman, Papa John, the guy who draws Garfield, the brunette from Three's Company, and Sleeping Couch Man. And they're all proud of this plucky team that beats Indiana and sometimes Toledo. By the way, are you the fan of a sad football team? Watch Ball State football next year because Pete Lembo will be your next head coach. I am not kidding. He's going to coach the entire ACC. From his den.
MACTION QUOTIENT: A giant chunk of limestone crushing a glass of two percent milk
BuffNEWYORKalo - Some teams create excitement through good offense. Buffalo has two things: a potential first-round NFL linebacker in Khalil Mack and a rebranding to emphasize the state in which it exists. BuffNEWYORKalo is located in the state of NEW YORK and it is NEW YORK's football team. As such it will long for endless media attention about how terrible they are, and a Showtime special backing this up.
MACTION QUOTIENT: The Cloverfield monster punting from its own 45-yard-line
Eastern Michigan - Ron English gets effort points for at least trying to instill excitement by setting up a fundraiser with the top donors going skydiving with him. But nobody bought the skydiving package, which is why they should have instead raised money to purchase donors. Their last hope is handing the football to Bronson Hill with a note pinned to it with directions to the end zone and what to pick up from the grocery store when he gets back.
MACTION QUOTIENT: A crowd of roughly 100 people exiting a football stadium and easily making it home
Kent State - In MAC circles, Kent State football was usually associated with "whew, a week off!" Now it's the team of Dri Archer, a two-foot-tall wood nymph who breaks hearts with speed and versatility. Since Nick Saban went here, there is likely something in the water in Kent which stunts growth. But Dri Archer is the only Heisman candidate in the country to have his own webcomic illustrated by the guy who currently draws Funky Winkerbean. I didn't make that last part up.
MACTION QUOTIENT: A slot car version of a Honda Fit endlessly racing around a short track
UMass - I was skeptical of letting people into the MAC that spoke with an accent, but when I heard they recently secured football commitments at a clambake, I was sold. Expect the Minutemen to litter the scoreboard with points provided everybody else in the conference has a shellfish allergy.
MACTION QUOTIENT: Nemo's father swimming through a fishbowl of not-yet-congealed Jell-O
Akron - They are the Indiana of the MAC. They're good at basketball and soccer and despite discontinuing football in 1996, they have been allowed to organize a team so long as they replace the traditional egg-shaped football with a Northeast Ohio phone book. When Jim Tressel was hired as a VP to the university, he saw nothing wrong with this.
MACTION QUOTIENT: Eight