Power 5 teams playing road games against teams mid-major conferences happens a few times a year, but seeing a big name like Miami doing it feels odd, even though the Canes have now done this sort of thing several times.
Lets face it, Rockets athletic director Mike OBrien told SB Nation. Miami has tremendous cachet as a football program.
UM Hurricanes, seeking road win, entering potential danger zone at Toledos Glass Bowl
The Rockets expect a sellout crowd. To the AD, the only uncertainty is how many students show up and thus how many people fill in the standing room-only spots at the 26,000-seat Glass Bowl. The Rockets will get national exposure on ESPN2.
In 2016, the Canes played at Appalachian State. Current Miami athletic director Blake James acknowledged then that Boone, North Carolina, was not his first choice of destination. It was part of a one-for-one, just like the Toledo arrangement.
Toledo, Ohio is located in northwestern Ohio and features a population of 276,000 people. Often confused with Akron by people who have no desire to visit decaying manufacturing towns in flyover country, Toledo is the fourth largest city in Ohio by population. Reachable by air through the Toledo Express Airport via Allegiant Air or American Eagle only, Toledo is ranked as the 89th most dangerous city in America. It is home to the Toledo Mud Hens, AAA affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. The Harbaugh family is originally from Toledo, so I can only deduce that everyone from Toledo eats their own boogers.
In 2017, Miami had a game scheduled at Arkansas State, also part of a home-and-home. Both teams agreed to pay $300,000 guarantees for their home games, same as now, according to their game contract. (Miami declined to play its 2017 game in Jonesboro because of travel concerns around Hurricane Irma. That led to a separate legal battle.)
Miamis not making a profit on the Toledo contract. For both games, the visiting team receives $300,000 from the home team.
But Miami is saving some money on this game simply by not having to pay a guarantee. The most common game between Power 5 schools and mid-majors is a one-off with the mid-major on the road. Or, the P5 team might play one road game in exchange for two home games, a situation that still leads to a net payment of one guarantee amount.
For all twelve of those Miami fans who dont permanently reside on the internet, were going to help you out in planning your travel. For a game this big—a matchup this iconic—a road game this important—were going to make sure you properly take in every minute of the beauty that Toledo, Ohio offers.
Cam Underwood, the managing editor of Miami blog State of the U, explains what might have compelled Miami to sign this deal in 2010:
Yes, the Miami Hurricanes are taking their talents to Ohio in a huge matchup against MAC power Toledo (Noon, ESPN2). Dont be fooled by what appears to be my blatant sense of sarcasm, this is a matchup of colossal titans battling for victory in a game of the century.
Despite the cachet and national brand, Miamis athletic department is equally well known for not being the financial juggernaut as other name brand schools. Ask any Florida State fan; theyll be QUICK to point this out.
Miamis out-of-conference schedule in recent years has reflected this. Teams such as West Virginia and Marshall and Middle Tennessee were on the OOC schedule, but those series were all canceled and left holes.
Enter Group of 5 teams Arkansas State, Appalachian State, and Toledo. Knowing they had leverage because Miami needed to complete future years schedules, those three teams pushed for home-and-home deals.
Sure, Miami could just pay a hefty buyout, but without the huge cash coffers of larger institutions, that isnt something Miami would routinely do.
Adding to Miamis difficulties, the schools booster scandal involving convicted felon Nevin Shapiro broke publicly in 2011. Though that was after the Toledo contract was signed, it made it harder for Miami to get booster money for a time, Underwood said.
A few weeks after the Toledo contract was executed, the Canes agreed to an amendment that increased the buyout of the game from $750,000 to $1.5 million if they didnt show up. Toledos leverage then might have been Miamis desire to move around specific game dates, which is common, and which happened at least twice after this contract was signed.
Former Miami AD Kirby Hocutt, a friend and former colleague of Toledo AD OBriens, signed the Toledo contract. Hocutt declined an interview request through his current employer, Texas Tech. But James, the current AD, told the Miami Herald:
In a perfect world, a game like Toledo would be a guarantee game [without a return trip there]. But you have to get games [to fill a schedule], and if the dollar figure to get a guarantee game is so high, at some point you have to concede and do home and homes with these schools. Im sure thats what happened with Toledo.
SHARE COPY LINK Miami Hurricanes Coach Mark Richt speaks to the media after the University of Miami defeats Savannah State 77-0 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Saturday, September 8, 2018.
The Rockets play some guarantee games. You might remember them beating Arkansas in Little Rock in 2015. Next year, theyll play at Kentucky. Toledo gets hundreds of thousands of dollars for those games, which are important to non-power programs budgets.
But Toledo has made it a priority to get home games against Power 5 opponents, too. Since taking his job in 2002, OBrien has gotten home games against Kansas, Iowa State, Purdue, Colorado, and Missouri — sometimes but not always in straight-up home-and-homes.
When I contact various schools, I start with Would you be interested in a home-and-home? OBrien said. And initially, the dates didnt work out, and so it went a little dark for a handful of months, and I would call on occasion just to see how things were. Sometime in , received a phone call back that theyd be interested in the home-and-home and faxed me the contract.
The Canes are 10-point favorites. But the current version of Toledo — which won 30 games the last three years, just won the MAC, routinely has top-20 offenses, and has the (very early) national lead in scoring offense at 66 points in its one game — is scary.
Im not going to hoodwink anyone, OBrien, their athletic director, said. Its getting more difficult. We have a very good program, excellent coach. When we signed this in , we werent winning as many games as we currently are.
CLEVELAND, Ohio – This is arguably the biggest weekend of Mid-American Conference football action to date with the defending MAC Champion Toledo Rockets (1-0) hosting No. 21 Miami (1-1) noon Saturday (ESPN2) and a huge cross-division conference game with Eastern Michigan (2-0) on the road at Buffalo (2-0).
That game will feature two of the top quarterbacks in the MAC – senior Tyler Weigers (EMU) and junior Tyree Jackson (UB) – with the winner holding an important tie-breaker for a division title at the end of the season.
Also, Kent State (1-1) gets to show if its new offense can measure up against a Top 25 foe at No. 11 Penn State (2-0), noon Saturday (FS1).
And a bit off the radar, the Akron Zips (1-0) get the chance at a road upset against Northwestern, 7:30 p.m. (BTN) while Ohio Universitys upset chances vs. Virginia increased when the game was moved to a neutral site (Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville), 4:30 p.m. (ESPN2), where local fans can attend the game for free.
For Toledo, this will be the second time in five years the Rockets have hosted a Top 25 team. In 2014 No. 24 Missouri played the Rockets in the Glass Bowl. Missouri won, 49-24. The last time a Top 25 team played in a MAC stadium was 2015, when Western Michigan hosted No. 5 Michigan State. WMU lost that game, 37-24.
The Rockets are coming off a bye week following a 66-3 victory over VMI. UT did not feature 5-11, 220-pound tailback and Cleveland native Shakif Seymour (Parma Holy Name) in that game. But look for him to get a healthy dose of action against the Hurricanes.
Finally, dont overlook the Zips on the road against the Wildcats. Akron was anxious to play Nebraska in the season opener before that game was postponed due to weather. This is another Big Ten opportunity coach Terry Bowden will have his team ready for. MAC GAMES THIS WEEK