The Athletic G5 Mailbag on state of the MAC

What is the MAC leadership doing and what are their plans for the future? They weren’t involved with any of the shuffling of teams and ultimately didn’t add any new teams. It was also reported that they haven’t talked about getting rid of divisions. What is the future of MAC football and why haven’t they been more aggressive in this ever-changing time period of college football? — Jordan W.

You don’t need to make changes for the sake of change, and that’s where the MAC finds itself. Remember, the Mountain West also didn’t make any realignment changes and felt comfortable where it was. The MAC opted against adding Western Kentucky once Middle Tennessee decided to stay in C-USA, though the Hilltoppers very much wanted to go.

Ultimately, the MAC knows what it is and knows what its limitations are. It’s mostly a bus league for travel with nearby schools, largely in rural and suburban towns. It’s also the most subsidized FBS conference, with 79 percent of athletic department revenues coming from institution/government support or student fees, according to the Knight Commission database. Adding more schools would further dilute conference revenue while adding to travel, and it just doesn’t have the money to do that.

Since the realignment news last fall, C-USA schools heading to the AAC have announced ambitious facilities and fundraising goals. Time will tell if that is actually attainable. Several G5 ADs I talked to during that period said they simply couldn’t match the athletic budgets in the AAC. That’s not a bad thing. Don’t spend money you don’t have. It’s good to know who you are and lean into that. The Sun Belt expanded, but in a way to lean into local rivalries, which is why it’s keeping divisions. The MAC is about local rivalries, and there’s nothing else in the footprint. There’s not much else to actually do, but that’s OK.