First National Telecast Of MAC Game In 12 Years Highlights TV Package

Updated 8/18/1999
CLEVELAND (Aug. 18) -- Buoyed by the national telecast of one of the league's most intense rivalries, which began in 1905, the Mid-American Conference announced its television package in association with FOX Sports Net (FSN) for the 1999 football season. It will be the first scheduled nationwide telecast between two MAC schools since 1987.

The Ohio at Marshall game is scheduled to be telecast nationally by FOX Sports Net on Friday, Nov. 26, with a special 11:30 a.m. (ET) kickoff. Marshall, ranked preseason No. 25 in the nation by Sports Illustrated and Street and Smith's, is the two-time defending league champion and won the 1998 Motor City Bowl. Thundering Herd quarterback Chad Pennington, the winner of this year's Anson Mount Award from Playboy magazine, is also a bonafide Heisman candidate. FSN reaches more than 68 million households.

"This is a tremendous commitment by FOX Sports Net to the Mid-American Conference," said league commissioner Rick Chryst. "The telecast provides a national showcase for one of the league's oldest and strongest rivalries."

"FOX Sports Net is excited to bring MAC fans both national and regional action," said Frank Sinton, FOX Sports Net's Vice President of Programming. "Because of the leadership of Commissioner Chryst to get this deal done, home team fans in the MAC regions will be able to see their teams in action on their FSN regional sports network."

In addition to the Ohio at Marshall contest, the FSN schedule includes the following regional games:
(all times Eastern)
Oct. 16 - Bowling Green at Akron, noon
Oct. 30 - Central Michigan at Bowling Green, noon
Nov. 6 - Toledo at Central Michigan, noon
Nov. 13 - Miami at Ohio, noon
Nov. 26 - Ohio at Marshall, 11:30 a.m. - FOX Sports Net national broadcast

The regional contests will air on FOX Sports Net Ohio, FOX Sports Net Detroit, FOX Sports Net Pittsburgh, FOX Sports Net Midwest, FOX Sports Net Chicago and Empire Sports Network.

"Given our late start on the television package, we feel this is a very competitive schedule of games that should track our conference race at the height of the college football season," said Chryst. "Combined with our school packages, I don't believe there will be a shortage of MAC football on television this year."

In addition to preseason MAC favorite Marshall, the FSN package features the top East Division challengers, Miami and Bowling Green, two-time defending West title holder Toledo, and yet another legitimate Heisman candidate - Miami running back Travis Prentice. Prentice is poised to become the league's all-time leading rusher and challenge the NCAA record for career rushing touchdowns and career games with two or more touchdowns.

The league's 1998 Freshman of the Year, wide receiver Kurt Gerling of Bowling Green, leads the Falcons in games at Akron and at home versus Central Michigan. The Zips feature record setting quarterback James "Butchie" Washington while the Chippewas return plenty of talent from a team that came within a field goal of winning the West Division in 1998. CMU tailback Eric Flowers rushed for over 1,300 yards last season. Toledo and Ohio will break in new quarterbacks but head coaches Gary Pinkel (1995 and 1997) of the Rockets and Jim Grobe (1996) of the Bobcats have each won MAC Coach of the Year honors for building their respective programs.

This year's television package marks the first time two MAC teams have played a regular-season game on national television since 1987, when Eastern Michigan played at Toledo on ESPN. The 1999 season marks the second year of the MAC's relationship with FOX Sports Net. FSN is the first truly national, regional and local supplier of sports programming through 22 regional sports networks.

"We appreciate the continued and expanded support of FOX Sports Net and its affiliates, as we look to establish the MAC both in our footprint as well as in the national market," said Chryst.

The MAC is the nation's largest Division I football conference with 13 teams that comprise two divisions. The East Division is made up of Akron, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Kent, Marshall, Miami and Ohio; West Division members are Ball State, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois, Toledo and Western Michigan. The divisional winners will meet for the MAC Championship in a game to be played Dec. 3 at Marshall Stadium in Huntington, W.Va. The MAC champion will represent the league in the Motor City Bowl slated for Dec. 27th at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich.