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MAC Football News & Notes: Maxx Crosby makes first career Pro Bowl
Also: what to make of the NIU-Coastal finish moving forward.
Welcome to The Ypsilanti Eleven! Eastern Michigan’s own Maxx Crosby has just been selected to his first career Pro Bowl. Talking about it with the press, Crosby gets sentimental about the work he’s put in on the field and in his personal life to get to this point.
Also, the MAC had something to say about the finish in Saturday’s Cure Bowl.
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EMU great Maxx Crosby makes 1st Pro Bowl
Eastern Michigan’s own Maxx Crosby has been named to his first career Pro Bowl, announced Monday. Crosby, 24, is in his third year with the Las Vegas Raiders as a fourth-round draft pick in 2019.
Crosby’s been a huge crowd favorite for his Raiders fans, and has a decent following nationally as “he’s the player I root for when the Raiders are on”. He’s a team captain, he’s been very vocal about his sobriety, and this pro bowl selection is the first big career accolade Crosby’s picked up since he joined the league.
Maxx Crosby career stats
On the bowl games, final scores
Liberty 56, Eastern Michigan 20 — EMU, the home team for this newsletter, just got flat-out hosed by Liberty’s quarterback, who definitely proved that he’s on his way to a pretty good professional football career with his performance. Neither the offense nor the defense came prepared for the challenge on Saturday.
Middle Tennessee 31, Toledo 24 — It’s really important for the MAC to win games like these, especially teams that are built like Toledo go up against teams built like Middle Tennessee. But Toledo’s continued dominance in the penalties department is one of the great traditions that’s still live in well in college football, and one that does not slow down for Middle Tennessee; 12, 116 yards lost. I don’t know what, but something’s gotta give.
Coastal Carolina 47, Northern Illinois 41 — More on the obvious later. NIU scored on its first seven drives of the game, and a 45-yard field goal put the Huskies up 41-33. Coastal had a couple more quick scores left in them (40-yard pass, 34-yard run) while NIU finally had some hiccups. Clint Raktovich was stopped shy on a direct snap he took on 4th & 1, Rocky Lombardi fumbled the ball after he gained 17 yards on a run, and the game ended on a 15-play, 83-yard drive with the referees getting 100% in the way of the game being settled the way it rightfully should have.
Kent State vs. Wyoming — The Potato Bowl kicks off today at 3:30 p.m. The O/U on this game is set at 59.5. Seems low.
North Texas vs. Miami OH — The Frisco Football Classic is on Thursday, 3:30 p.m. I can’t fake too much excitement in this game as a whole, but I’m eager to see what kind of day WR Jack Sorenson can end his career on.
Georgia State vs. Ball State — The Camellia Bowl is on Christmas Day, 2:30 kickoff. Ball State’s been a disappointment in 2021, especially for how 2020 went for the Cardinals. But it’s a passionate team, so I’m still excited to watch the Cardinals play in this one.
Western Michigan vs. Nevada — Nevada’s without the head coach and quarterback that helped this team reach an 8-4 record, while Western Michigan has neither of those problems. This game, though, will ultimately be decided by whoever shows up to simply play a football game at 11 a.m. on a Monday.
Central Michigan vs. Boise State — Because of my daycare job, I’m conveniently just going to have to miss this game. I’m just not into the idea of watching a Barstool-funded football game [through one of their online feeds since the game’s not on cable,] and it’s not like the competition, Boise State, is as exciting to watch on the field as it may seem on paper. But, I work, at 2 p.m. on New Years Eve. Too bad so sad. Go Boise.
On the Northern Illinois-Coastal Carolina finish
The end of the Cure Bowl came with some drama. NIU converted on a 4th & 1 pass play to TE Miles Joiner which in itself was a questionable call. Joiner fell on his front side before going out of bounds, and the ball popped out of his grasp as he went down. The sideline judge ruled it a catch and instead of signaling the spot and stopping the clock like normal, he motioned to spot the ball and keep the clock moving — which is pretty huge when we’re talking about only two seconds being not he clock in the first place. The clock should then be reset, and starts running again after another referee spots the ball and blows his whistle. The clock kept moving during all of the commotion, and NIU was unable to get its last-second play off in time.
Saturday, the day after the game, the MAC issued the following statement, signed by commissioner Jon Steinbrecher:
At the end of last night’s NIU vs. Coastal Carolina football game in Orlando, a series of errors by the on-field officials and the replay official denied NIU the opportunity to run one more play. Following the reception along the sideline, the play should have been stopped for a review. Also, the clock was not managed appropriately on what should have been the final play as the center judge should have been allowed to clear the center before the referee wound the clock. This should not have occurred and the egregious errors around a potential game-changing situation is both unfortunate and unacceptable.
Congratulations to the student-athletes and coaches at NIU and Coastal Carolina for tremendous seasons and a hard-fought bowl game.
This game was officiated by a Conference-USA crew, and that league also put out a statement saying that the clock shouldn’t have started until after the center judge cleared the area of the ball spot.
The MAC had to put this message out for a number of reasons. Many things are obvious, and the perception of Northern Illinois & the MAC would be so much difference if everybody would’ve gotten to see how the final two seconds of the play would’ve played out if the Cure Bowl’s officiating crew didn’t have its epic choke job with no review to follow.
I think the productive conversation to have from this is to note that the MAC’s going to rightfully stay angry about how its championship winning team was poo-poo’d away in the national spotlight, and I think that this is going to be a moment of emphasis for the conference moving forward.
A lot of this is happening to the MAC, but the conference, I think, is in a good position to have this fight. My mind immediately races to two things. The first is a recent story from The Athletic, which centered around the Ball State vs. Central Michigan football officiating crew, where Nicole Auerbach detailed the way the crew worked that evening. The second is after one of the worst moments in basketball officiating anybody has ever seen, and it happened in the MAC. After whatever you want to call whatever happened at that Ball State at EMU men’s basketball game in 2016, the officials involved were swiftly banned from postseason consideration by the league.
The people who officiate these games aren’t perfect, and they never will be. But as far as merit in this conversation goes, I think the MAC’s done a good job for itself in having, in my opinion, a good standard for officiating. For all the goodwill this league has built up in trying to improve its officiating messes along the way, this league’s in a good spot to point out other officiating crews that screw things in the final, dramatic seconds for your conference’s champion.
I don’t think the MAC even necessarily has to be mad at anybody specifically, either. I think this moment should be taken as a chip on the league’s shoulder, and now act as a conference with that generic always-kinda-pissed-off-at-nobody-in-particular attitude that can only be molded through one long, cold, midwest winter.
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