Once again, the MAC was untouched by realignment in the past year, but 4 teams either fired or lost their respective head coaches. Among them are Bowling Green, which is projected to top Northern Illinois for the MAC title in a rematch of last year's league championship game.
BGSU lost Dave Clawson when he was named the new head coach at Wake Forest on December 10. Clawson had just finished leading BGSU to its first MAC title since 1992 and completed his tenure with the Falcons with a 32-31 record. That tally may seem unimpressive on the surface, but consider that the last two teams he had with his recruits were 18-8 overall and 13-3 in the MAC.
Dino Babers was announced as the new head coach of the Falcons on December 18 after leading Eastern Illinois into the FCS playoffs where his team finished the season 12-2 after a loss to Towson in the second round. His QB at Eastern Illinois, Jimmy Garoppolo, passed for 5,050 yards and 53 TD's this season. While at Baylor, Babers coached Robert Griffin III.
This year, the Falcons are picked to go 11-1 in the regular season (7-1, MAC East). The only expected blemish is a narrow loss at Toledo on November 19.
NIU is also projected to go 11-1 in the regular season (8-0, MAC West) with its only loss coming at the hands of Northwestern on September 6.
That means the computer has the Falcons beating Indiana at home and Wisconsin on the road, while taking the Huskies to prevail in visits to UNLV and Arkansas.
BGSU is rated 10.01 power points above the next-closest MAC East team, Buffalo. NIU is actually slightly more than 2 power points under Toledo but gets the Rockets at home on November 11.
The other MAC teams kicking off their respective 2014 campaigns with new head coaches are Eastern Michigan, UMass and Miami.
At EMU, Chris Creighton replaces Ron English. Creighton was the head coach at Drake (FCS) for the last 6 seasons, and had previous stints at Wabash (Division 3) and Ottawa, Kansas (NAIA). He owns a career record of 139-46, including a 42-22 mark at Drake. English was dumped on November 8, the day before its home game with Western Michigan. In nearly 5 full seasons in Ypsilanti, English was only able to guide the Eagles to 11 wins in 57 games (11-46), including a 1-8 mark when he was let go. Eastern Michigan finished the 2013 campaign with offensive coordinator Stan Parrish serving as interim head coach. It didn't make much of a difference as the team went 1-2 down the stretch and Parrish's career record as a FBS head coach fell to 9-51-1.
Mark Whipple returns to Massachusetts to reprise the role he held from 1998-2003 when the Minutemen were playing at the 1-AA (now FCS) level and won the 1998 national championship. Whipple was 49-26 during that stint. He replaces Charley Molnar who was fired the day after Christmas after going just 2-22 in two seasons in Amherst. Molnar had previously served under Brian Kelly at Notre Dame as offensive coordinator. Since his last gig with UMass, Whipple has been an assistant with the NFL's Browns, Steelers and Eagles, and also spent 2009-2010 with the Miami Hurricanes. He has a career record of 121-59 but has never led a program at the FBS level.
Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chuck Martin was announced as the new head coach at Miami (Ohio) on December 3. Martin won 2 national titles as head coach of Division II Grand Valley State before spending the past four seasons as an assistant at Notre Dame. Martin took over as offensive coordinator and QB coach of the Irish last season after previously coaching the defensive backfield. He replaces Mike Bath who was named interim head coach when Don Treadwell was fired on October 6th after an 0-5 start. Even after the change, Miami completed the 2013 season as one of only two FBS teams, along with Georgia State, to go winless. Bath was the quarterback and wide receivers coach under Treadwell whose overall record was 8-21, including a conference mark of 6-10.