Interview with MAC Commissioner Rick Chryst

Herd Insider publisher Greg Perry spent a few minutes with MAC commissioner Rick Chryst Wednesday after a fundraiser at Marshall Stadium. The commissioner candidly discussed where the MAC is headed, what that can mean for a school like Marshall, and other topics during the interview.

Question: Tell us a little bit about why you're down here today.
Chryst: "Dr. Angel called me Saturday night, and in addition to informing me of Marshall's intention to stay in the conference, he let me know about the fundraiser and if there was a way to make it down. I think it's just a part of the good stuff we get to do, that involves one of our conference schools. It's always great to be in Huntington -I mean that- and I think there's a little bit more to it, probably, given the circumstances of the last few months."

Question: Do you think it helps to smooth things over, if you will?
Chryst:
"Actually, you know, Greg, through this whole process, as competitive as it can get and does get, I felt there's really been an open line of communication. And honestly, I've felt that it's flattering to Marshall University to be considered for membership in other leagues. There's a lot of good stuff happening here. Whether I should have or not, I have not taken it personally. Certainly you know the impact of changes in your league and what that may mean. Until something new would happen, I'm working for the same group I'm working for. I don't think there's any of that type of environment in our conference. I think our league's excited about what's happening, excited hopefully about what's on the horizon. That's what keeps us going."


Rick Chryst spoke at a fundraiser in Huntington on October 17, 2001

Question: There have been rumors floating around about increased bowl guarantees. Is all that stuff really a part of the picture?
Chryst:
"I think until our presidents formally meet -that's where policy changes happen. Having said that, very early on in this process, even before we started reading about it, we advanced some initiatives to our group that I think is where leagues like ours, where we're going, will get to anyway. As it relates to bowls, as it relates to television. The fact that we've got two bowls now creates good new issues for us. That we got a little bit of television creates good new issues for us. Not in the way of inducements to stay or anything like that. I think we're just recognizing where the top end of our league is going. Hopefully, we'll be able to announce policy changes that are consistent with that."

Question: Is the prospect for a third bowl for the MAC out of the question?
Chryst:
"No, I don't think so at all. Right now, our focus has been, really, let's make the two games work. I'm excited about changes that are happening in the Motor City Bowl, particularly next year when the new stadium is built in downtown Detroit. The best thing we can do to get a third game is to make these two games really connect us here. Yet, I think you're going to see some real change in the landscape, I think, after this year's bowl games. I think you're going to see new conference alignments. You've already seen a couple new games, the Micron game moved to Orlando, the Tangerine Bowl. There's talk of a new game in San Francisco. So I think what we hope to do is be right in the midst of those discussions. Competitively, we're there. It's a matter of finding the right fit, selling ourselves a little bit. The biggest things we could do to sell ourselves is to make these two games really work this year."

(Note: Herd Insider columnist Dave Weekly joined the interview.

Question: There was some feeling that today there was going to be some official announcement about Central Florida joining the conference, at this event.
Chryst:
"I hope that didn't come from us, Dave. Right now, our expansion discussions are in front of our council of presidents. I'm hopeful of an announcement sooner than later, we don't have a specific timetable on it. Certainly, our internal issues are getting sorted out, and I feel positive about how its moving forward."

Question: Let's assume that UCF will be in the league, and will be in the east division. Do you expect much opposition from Bowling Green if they have to move to the west?
Chryst:
"This has not been a 'today' discussion, or a one day or one week discussion. Marshall has been a really active part of all that. People need to know that. This hasn't been me in a vacuum or in a locked door, I mean, there's been good communication at all levels. The underlying theme is, what can make this league stronger, what can make this league grow. Clearly when you're as big as we are, numbers-wise, you've got to try to maintain rivalries. That's why we've gotten as specific as we can, in models that we've looked at, as best we can, to maintain rivalries. I think that will hold up at the end of the day, irrespective of divisions. I really do.


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