Pink slip Saturday for the MAC

Brock Harrington

In the wake of its final game of the 2008 season, Kent State football may just be in the best position to win a lot of games next season in the Mid-American Conference.

No, this has nothing to do with the Flashes’ fourth win of the season, over MAC East champion Buffalo. It has to do with the other four.

The other four are the MAC head coaches who have resigned or who have been fired over the past month. Meanwhile, Kent State will likely return most of its staff, and as we already know, Doug Martin will be back as the king of Kent State football.

Martin will be back as the Flashes’ coach, despite having only seven wins the past two years. Compared to now-former Bowling Green coach Gregg Brandon, who got fired after winning six games this season and eight games last season, which included a bowl game appearance, Martin’s survival at Kent State should be considered surprising.

Shane Montgomery, who resigned as Miami’s football coach Saturday, went to the MAC Championship Game last season and was picked by some – including me – to win the MAC East this season. Instead, the Redhawks went an ugly 2-10 and were involved in a ritual killing in their final loss to Ohio, 41-26, in Oxford.

In the West, Tommy Amstutz, or Toledo Tom as the Toledo media guide suggests, endured a gambling scandal that should have cost him his job two years ago. Despite having the biggest win in program history this season, a 13-10 “beatdown” of Michigan, the Rockets won only two other games, and those games were against two other MAC schools that now have coaching vacancies.

After that sentence it has to make you stand back and ask, “How bad was Michigan this year?”

Jeff Genyk of Eastern Michigan? Well, he didn’t have a chance from the day he took over the program, and after what looked like an up-and-coming season in 2007, the Eagles won just three games this year.

I also expect more MAC jobs becoming available.

Brady Hoke is the coach of the undefeated Ball State Cardinals. If a coach can create a team that goes undefeated in the regular season and still not get invited to a more significant bowl game than the ones the MAC exclusively offers, then I would certainly want to leave.

Turner Gill of Buffalo will likely take the 7-5 Bulls to a bowl game this year, on top of winning the MAC East. Buffalo was one of the worst jobs in the history of college football a few years ago, even worse than Eastern Michigan. Yet in the past two years Gill has been more than productive at Buffalo.

Throw in Butch Jones of Central Michigan, who will probably be coaching in a bowl game this year – and who has roots at West Virginia, which may be an open job sooner than you’d expect- and you have another possible opening.

What does this mean for Kent State?




The MAC is more incestuous than some European royal families when it comes to recruiting. Every MAC school recruits the same players. Soon-to-be senior running back Eugene Jarvis was also recruited by Akron. Soon-to-be sophomore H-back Sal Battles had other MAC offers. The list of Kent State players who were being recruited by other MAC schools is long.

This means that Kent State will have a jump on possibly seven schools in recruiting, with four of them probably having a completely new staff right down to the water boys. Kent State announced that Martin was coming back in 2009 because of recruiting purposes, and now that turns out to be a very smart announcement.

Recruiting isn’t the only advantage.

The Flashes will lose several good players from this season, but they have most of the roster returning. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Giorgio Morgan is expected to be the starter come training camp. Jarvis heads a running back corps that will be extremely talented and experienced with now junior Andre Flowers and now sophomore Speedy Terry in the backfield.

The receivers can’t get any worse, can they? Kendrick Pressley, a soon-to-be sophomore, looked good when he played. The Flashes will also have T.J. Williams, a soon-to-be redshirt freshman who, when healthy, can be pretty good as well. Junior tight end Jon Simpson also could be a threat after a decent sophomore season in 2008. Who knows, maybe Jameson Konz will even come back.

The defense loses leaders, but Cobrani Mixon, Brian Lainhart, Kevin Hogan, nearly all the secondary and most of the defensive line are back.

I’m not saying the Flashes will have a legendary team in 2009, but with all the new coaches in the conference, Kent State should be able to take advantage of the new schemes, formations and kinks these coaches will have in their first year.

There will be at least four new coaches in the MAC, but Kent State won’t have one.

Perhaps that was the plan all along.

Contact sports editor Brock Harrington at [email protected].