KSU early favorite in MAC polls

Jonas Fortune

Kent State’s football team finds itself in unfamiliar territory to begin the 2007 season: atop preseason Mid-American Conference polls in numerous publications.

Heading into the 2007 MAC Football Media Day at Ford Field in Detroit on July 25, collegiate magazines Athlon Sports, Blue Ribbon, Lindy’s and Phil Steele all ranked the Flashes as the top team in the MAC East division for the upcoming season.

However, the MAC News Media Association Preseason Football Poll saw things differently, just slightly. The Flashes came up two votes shy of first place, receiving 13 first-place votes to Ohio’s 15 – rankings the Flashes feel are finally legitimate.

“This, hopefully, is the first of many (seasons) where Kent State is ranked in the top three going into the season,” coach Doug Martin said. “I think it’s a motivator for our players. I think it’s a compliment to them for what they accomplished last year and I think it is a great opportunity for us to have some expectations.”

With these expectations surrounding the Flashes for the first time in years, senior defensive back Jack Williams has even higher goals.

“We’ve been talking MAC Championship,” Williams said. “Anything less than that is just disappointing to us.”

These are strong words from a team that has been without a MAC title for 35 years and without a winning season since 2001. Last year’s team delivered the first glimmer of hope in recent memory as they rode a five-game winning streak to a 6-6 record and second place in the MAC East. That was the highest a Kent State team had finished since Glen Mason coached it to a 7-4 second place finish in 1987, which he parlayed into his Minnesota head coaching job.Will this be the year the Flashes finally turn things around?

“We didn’t even talk championship these years past,” Williams said. “This is really the first year that coach has flat out said ‘anything less than a championship is just disappointing for this team.’ We really have a lot of talent and we have worked really hard to get where we are.”

Williams would know best. Entering his fifth season with the Flashes, he has seen the good – last season’s five-game winning streak, the bad – two consecutive losses to rival Akron; and the treacherous – the 1-10 nightmare that was the 2005 season.

But Williams hopes this season this is the end to the misery that has plagued Kent State football for so many seasons.

“I think those bad seasons just came from a lot of those rotten apples we had,” Williams said. “We had a lot of bad players and people that weren’t leaders and that weren’t as talented as the people coach Martin is recruiting now.”

Williams could be considered a Red Delicious if he can do what another famous Jack did at Kent State: Lead his team to a MAC title. And 35 years after Jack Lambert, Williams hopes to do just that.

Contact sports editor Jonas Fortune at [email protected].