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MAC Football News & Notes: QB Ben Bryant reportedly enters transfer portal
Eastern Michigan's starting quarterback, Ben Bryant, has reportedly hit the transfer portal.
EMU: QB Ben Bryant out, per report
247sports’ Chris Hummer reported yesterday that Eastern Michigan’s Ben Bryant has put his name in the transfer portal Monday. Bryant came to EMU over the 2020 offseason as a graduate transfer from Cincinnati and leaves with one year of eligibility remaining.
Bryant’s 2021 stats: 278/408 (68.4%) passing, 3,121 yards (7.6 Y/A), 14 TD, 7 INT.
Bryant’s news comes is a big shock to the roster, especially when it’s cratered with last week’s news that Preston Hutchinson also put his name in the portal. Hutchinson, a 2017 signee from Mason, Ohio that had to develop and work on his game before starting the 2020 season, took the backup role after Week 2 of the 2021 season when the coaching staff ultimately sided with Bryant’s pass-dominant skillset over Hutchinson, who was second in the MAC with 8 rush TD in 2020.
As of this writing, Bryant is still on EMU’s 2022 online roster.
With EMU’s QBs 1 & 2 both reportedly in the transfer portal, the Eagles are currently left with two scholarship, sophomore QBs (Baron May, Austin Smith) and one sophomore walk-on at the position (Christopher Kaminski). Eastern did not add any QBs during the early signing period.
If the report holds true, then Bryant is the sixth player to hit the transfer portal from EMU this offseason.
NIU: Jay Ducker was unhappy with situation at NIU
After winning the MAC Freshman of the Year, it didn’t seem like Jay Ducker was going to end up being The Guy in Northern Illinois’ running back room headed into 2022. For as loaded as that room is with former starter Waylee Harrison set to return from injury, it’s probably in head coach Thomas Hammock’s best interests to see who performs best through the spring and summer before naming a 2022 starter. But then again, we don’t really know the whole story of how NIU wants to build and maintain this roster.
“For me trust is a big thing. Me and my coaches didn’t have trust,” Ducker said of his decision to leave NIU. “I feel like they weren’t being honest with me.”
In the Huskies first four games of the season he had 24 carries for 85 yards. It was the Huskies 34-26 win over Bowling Green in week five where he established himself as the lead back in the MAC Champions attack. In the next eight games Ducker ran for 1,099 yards on 194 carries and finished the season with three touchdowns.
Ducker is open to any and all possibilities at what he hopes is his next stop in his football career.
“I want to keep playing football for as long as possible,” he said. “I want to fit into an offense that fits me. I just want an opportunity.”
NIU coaches, if you’re reading this: 1. thank you, 2. I’ve got some free advice for you. You’re a team that’s going to win this conference with your running backs: this has been established by the fact that you just won the MAC using all kinds of running backs over the course of the year. Ideally a crazy talented and hard-working position group to lean on over the course of 14 games is good to have, but the systemic issue NIU’s finding itself in is that it ends up keeping most of its best players off the field more often than not. A pass-heavy team should have a crowded wide receiver room with four pass-catchers on the field at all times. But since NIU wants to win its football games through its running backs, figure out a way to get more of your best guys on the field at the same time. Kinda like the 2008 Miami Dolphins.
CMU: Chips vs. Wazzu in the Sun Bowl*
Covid’s still a thing, and it’s getting bowl games canceled. Central Michigan’s bowl game, the Arizona Bowl, became the fourth to fold after Boise State’s roster was affected by virus, and there was no option to fill-in for the Broncos. So, in Barstool’s first year having a bowl game, it folded before things got going.
Instead, CMU (and the MAC) will profit off of having a better bowl game to play in. Central will instead head to the Sun Bowl to take on Washington State on New Year’s Eve (12:30 p.m., CBS). The Sun Bowl had an opening from Miami (FL) had to drop out of the bowl game due to Covid issues on the roster, too.
The bowl payout here’s way better than CMU’s original plan. The Arizona Bowl’s payout is chump’s change compared to what Kelloggs is paying. (Note: I mean that in terms of bowl game payouts, let’s not act like Kelloggs workers didn’t just go on an 11-week strike).
Just a couple of hours after the Washington State football team landed Sunday in El Paso, Texas, it learned its opponent in the Sun Bowl, the University of Miami, had been forced to pull out of the Friday game because of coronavirus concerns.
Cougars coach Jake Dickert took to Twitter to issue a plea.
"Our team is in El Paso and willing to play any opponent," Dickert wrote. "Our team just wants one more chance to finish this storied 2021 season."
A little more than 24 hours later, Dickert got his wish.
When Boise State pulled out of the Arizona Bowl on Monday because of its own pandemic problems, that left Central Michigan sitting in Tucson, Ariz., with nobody to play Friday.
With Tucson and El Paso only about 300 miles apart on Interstate 10, a deal was struck for the Chippewas to bus eastward to meet Washington State in the Sun Bowl, with the Arizona Bowl being canceled.
Terms of the agreement weren't announced, but Central Michigan should be in for a windfall. The Sun Bowl, one of the oldest in college football, has a payout of more than $4.5 million per team and is broadcast on CBS. The Arizona Bowl offered a $350,000 payout per school and was going to be streamed online.
"We are grateful for the diligent work of the Sun Bowl Association, the Pac-12 Conference, the Mid-American Conference and Central Michigan University to ensure the 2021 Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl will be played," Washington State athletic director Pat Chun said in a statement.
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