As the college football season draws near, Jon Steinbrecher, Commissioner, Mid-American Conference, discusses the state of the conference.
NFL coaching great Marv Levy got it right when he said, “When it’s too hard for them, it’s just right for us.”
In the Mid-American Conference, it’s long been an anytime, anywhere mentality. There’s a palpable hunger for a challenge. A determination to the settle the score. And while some may view us as a modest or humble Midwest conference, we produce a disproportionate amount of greatness.
We have Academic All-Americans. Athletic All-Americans. Students who are leaders in community service and social awareness. First-round draft picks and national champions.
In football, we have our own Gameday during the month of November, plus five guaranteed bowl games. We’re fresh off of an exclusive rights agreement extension with ESPN. And we’re celebrating a new relationship with CBS Sports Network.
Heading into the start of the 2015 season – the 69th season of Mid-American Conference football – our institutions and sports teams can expect exposure like never before. And we’re poised and ready to market the competitiveness of our programs, coaches, and students on a national stage.
It’s time to tell our story.
Last week, timed to Media Day, we launched a multi-year, national branding campaign centered on the conference’s commitment to excellence on the playing field, in the classroom, and in the community. With the help of branding agency 160over90, we’re inviting college fans, students, and alumni to ‘Get Some MACtion’ via a nationally televised, 60-second PSA; a custom microsite, GetSomeMACtion.com; student success stories; and a special ‘MACtalk’ meme generator and Social Stadium that curates #MACtion social conversations.
Beyond awareness building, the brand narrative and messaging platform will serve us in areas where we believe we need to ‘Take MACtion’ and lead a national effort – especially in the social consciousness space.
We’re taking a hard look at the current collegiate experience — from initial and continuing eligibility, to retention and graduation, transfers, and time demands – and considering a new paradigm.
We’re aiming to move the needle in an area of great pride for the MAC and among our membership: student-athlete wellbeing. Later this academic year, the Student Athlete Advisory Committees at each Mid-American Conference member institution will hold their second annual Mental Health Awareness Week. And next February, we will collaborate with the NCAA to host the Mid-American Conference and NCAA Sport Sciences Institute Mental Health Summit.
And we’ll be tackling diversity in hiring. A review of national statistics over the past decade shows that the number of ethnic minorities hired for head coaching positions in football and basketball has remained proportionally low, and relatively flat. And the number of women being hired into head coaching positions is decreasing. The time has come to take steps to alter these trends, and so the MAC has appointed a task force to consider this issue. And this season, we’ve added several female officials to our roster – not because they are female, but because they have worked their way up through the officiating ranks, have mastered the rules and mechanics, and are prepared for this next step in their careers.
All along the way, we’re setting new expectations for success on the field. We expect to win non-conference games. We expect to win bowl games. And we expect to challenge for the College Football Host Bowl slot.
Welcome to the MACtion.