Study: The rise of MACtion

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Wednesday May 15, 2013

Posted by: Chris Vannini on May 15, 2013

Everybody loves some MACtion.

For most, MACtion is about high-scoring games, usually in the middle of the week. But when did the Mid-American Conference reach that point?

The conference has plenty of mid-week games that are meant to increase exposure by being on national television as the only football game on.

The conference is often giving up increased ticket sales in order for TV exposure. Given the recent rise in popularity, it's hard to say this hasn't been the right decision.

The MAC earned its first BCS berth with Northern Illinois this past year, and Kent State likely would have gotten the bid if they had beaten NIU. Then Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher was the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft a few weeks ago.

"We've been really blessed with our TV partnerships, particularly our national partner, ESPN has done a wonderful job of promoting us," MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher told SiriusXM College Sports Nation. "We really want to continue to build upon that partnership and get into more and more households, and perhaps on more attractive dates and times."

Are these mid-week games a recent development? Here are the number of prime-time mid-week MAC games over the past 15 years.


First, it's important to note the majority of the Thursday games come on the opening weekend, which is why they stick out compared to other days, and most of these are nonconference games. Also, I didn't include the mid-day games coming the Friday after Thanksgiving.

It's clear that the rise in these games came about eight years ago with an increase in Tuesday and Wednesday games.

According to CBS, the MAC's current deal with ESPN is an eight-year deal through 2016-17 and pays the conference about $1 million per year.

How valuable have these mid-week games and this recent success been? CBS reported in March that the conference and network were expected to reopen media-rights talks, which would bring more money to the MAC.

The MAC's success throughout the week has led to more conferences trying to increase mid-week exposure. In the 2013 season, the Big East will have 15 non-Saturday primetime games this season.

While Steinbrecher is hoping for some more attractive game dates, the MAC is growing because of its mid-week presence, and it's hard to see it changing in the near future.

Here are just some of the best mid-week MACtion games over the past few years.

Ball State 34, Toledo 27 - Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012: Game-winning TD with 1:43 left
Northern Illinois 31, Toledo 24 - Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012: A total of 992 yards of offense
Northern Illinois 63, Toledo 60 - Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011: Game-winning TD with 19 seconds left
Toledo 66, Western Michigan 63 - Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011: A total of 1,439 yards of offense
Bowling Green 30, Buffalo 29 - Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009: Game-winning TD with 39 seconds left

And here are three MACtion games to look forward to this year.

Ohio at Bowling Green - Tuesday, Nov. 12
Northern Illinois at Toledo - Wednesday, Nov. 20
Western Michigan at Northern Illinois - Tuesday, Nov. 26

It's going to be another great college football season, and the MAC will be there to provide your fix in between Saturdays.



Chris Vannini is the lead writer for and has covered Michigan State sports for The State News, The Oakland Press and He writes a weekly column for the Detroit Free Press on behalf of SB Nation. Vannini lives in Big Ten country, so his foot speed is far from SEC caliber, but his pulse on coaches is hard to match. Be sure to follow @CoachingBuzz on twitter and send your feedback to

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to

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