The NCAA’s return to normalcy marches on. On Thursday episode of the NFL Draft Insiders live video/podcast, PFN’s Senior Draft Analyst and Insider Tony Pauline shared that sources were telling him MAC football is likely to return this fall.

“There’s a very good chance they play this fall. The MAC officials are meeting on Friday. There’s a belief that either Saturday or as early as Friday night, that they could announce their return to the field.”

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What will the MAC football season look like

The first question on everyone’s mind is likely to be, “what will the schedule look like?” Well, Pauline’s got the answer.

“What I’m hearing right now is the plan is to play a six-game season in the MAC and then a conference title game.”

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This short season works out well for the MAC to return to play this fall. With six teams in both the Eastern and Western divisions, the schedules should be easy to create. While nothing is set in stone, it would make sense that each team will play their five division rivals and one opponent from the opposite division.

The fairest way to determine the East versus West matchups would be based on 2019 records. That would mean matching up teams that finished in the same place in the standings.

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That would give MAC fans a few intriguing matchups, headlined by a 2019 MAC Championship rematch between Miami(OH) and Central Michigan. This format would also pit Ohio against Western Michigan, Buffalo against Ball State, Kent State against Northern Illinois, Bowling Green against Toledo, and Akron against Eastern Michigan.

That’s a strong slate of games that should keep fans of one of the premier FBS conferences on the edge of their seat for the duration of their shortened season.

A conference call with schools, players, and parents

The decision to play doesn’t come lightly for MAC schools. According to Pauline’s sources, school officials, players, and parents held a zoom call to discuss the pros and cons of a football season.

“I know there was a zoom meeting with some of the school officials, with some of the parents of the players, and team representatives. Some teams chose one guy to be their representative. During this call, school administrators went through the pros and cons of returning. The administrators evidently told the players that if they start up again in the fall and then they have to stop the season due to COVID-19, they aren’t going to play in the spring. Whether that was a threat, whether that was an ultimatum, people don’t know.”

It seems this meeting went well, as MAC football is likely to return. While the MAC is correct to be wary of stoppage to the season, it’s disheartening to hear that MAC wouldn’t consider a spring return.

Many of these athletes, like Christian Albright and Quintin Morris, are seniors fighting for their last shot in the NFL. It would be heartbreaking for them to lose that chance because the MAC refused to return, even if it could be considered safe to do so.