Fox Sports Ohio published an interesting online piece on Wednesday that makes this point clear - Mid-American Conference opponents are hitting the road in pursuit of a paycheck.
Fox Sports Ohio notes that of the eight MAC teams play at BCS conference opponents this weekend, several will get a tidy paycheck in return: Buffalo will earn $1 million to play at No. 2 Ohio State. Toledo will earn $800,000 to play at No. 10 Florida. Ohio will earn $500,000 to play at No. 9 Louisville.
Central Michigan will get $850,000 to play at No. 17 Michigan on Saturday, while Akron will earn $900,000 to play at Michigan on Sept. 14. (Both contracts, as well as Michigan's contracts with Notre Dame and Connecticut, were obtained by the Blade through an FOI request.)
Some coaches will take the political way out of the argument and declare that playing an opponent such as Michigan, Ohio State or (insert nationally prominent football program here) will serve as a yardstick of sorts for where a program stands in comparison to said opponent.
But it's no secret that somehow, mid-majors have to fill the coffers.
During a conference call this week, Central Michigan coach Dan Enos advocated the decision to play a college powerhouse this year and in the future, and clearly stated this:
"There's a monetary advantage you get from it."
Akron coach Terry Bowden, also, didn't skirt the issue.
"Our record has been poor enough that we can grab a big, million-dollar game in one shot," Bowden told Fox Sports Ohio. Some of our better teams in the conference probably have to play two of those games to get the same money.
"These games have made the MAC's reputation as a giant killer. Win or lose, though, that's the way we pay our bills."
Speaking of Connecticut ...
Towson, an FCS opponent, defeated Connecticut in its season opener Thursday night in East Hartford, Conn.
Michigan faces Connecticut Sept. 21 at Rentschler Field in a nonconference game, but Connecticut's loss to Towson could have a domino effect. As an American Athletic Conference representative, the loss to an FCS program now puts the onus on teams like Louisville and Cincinnati to not just hold the banner of the American, but to hold it higher. In its first season, the AAC doesn't want the national stigma of being a pushover conference, or what the Big East was as a football conference in its final years.
As for how the dominoes could fall in Michigan's direction? Sports Illustrated last month labeled the matchup as "a good measuring stick" for the Huskies, but after Thursday night's game, the football world might change its expectations - and place them heavily in favor of the Wolverines. A loss or a close game at Connecticut could also have people looking differently at Michigan going into their bye week.
That's putting the horse well before the cart. But it's a point that Michigan and its fans will consider.
Michigan, by the way, will make $400,000 for playing the Huskies at Rentschler Field.