Austin Boucher returned to the spotlight in a very fitting place Tuesday.
The redshirt senior quarterback was one of Miami University’s football representatives for Mid-American Conference Media Day at Ford Field, a venue that featured one of Boucher’s best moments at the collegiate level.
He hit Armand Robinson for a 33-yard touchdown with 33 seconds remaining on Dec. 3, 2010, giving the RedHawks a 26-21 triumph over Northern Illinois and the MAC championship.
“I’ve gone through the highest of the highs and lowest of the lows,” said Boucher, who also directed MU to a GoDaddy.com Bowl win that season while subbing for an injured Zac Dysert. “I’ve gone from being MVP in a bowl game to riding the bench for two years, so I’m excited to just be back in the driver’s seat and be a leader on the field.”
Boucher didn’t see much action as Dysert’s backup the last two years, but now it’s his show. The Alter High School graduate doesn’t plan to waste this opportunity.
“I’m an emotional guy. I wear my heart on my sleeve a lot, so this is about putting my heart and soul into this season and making things happen,” Boucher said. “I want to help my team realize how special each season is and how blessed we are for the opportunities we do get.
“I think going 4-8 the last two years has made us hungry. We also have a couple veterans who have played in the MAC championship game. I think being able to tell the team how much that means really builds that hunger. I think the chemistry and camaraderie on this team will help carry us forward more than just our talent.”
MAC goes bowling: The conference will have seven bowl relationships this year.
The three primary agreements are with the Little Caesars Pizza bowl in Detroit, the GoDaddy Bowl in Mobile, Ala., and the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho. The four secondary agreements are with the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., the Gildan New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque, N.M., the Beef O’Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl in St. Petersburg, Fla., and the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego.
The bowl landscape will change with the start of the College Football Playoff next season. The future of the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl at Ford Field is very cloudy after the Big Ten and Atlantic Coast Conference agreed to play a bowl game there starting in 2014.
MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said the conference likely will have at least four or five bowl tie-ins during the 2014-19 time frame. The GoDaddy Bowl and the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl have already been contracted.
Playoff talk: Michael Kelly, chief operating officer of the Bowl Championship Series and the College Football Playoff that will begin in 2014, talked about the upcoming playoff system.
Six bowl games will be above the rest in the post-BCS world. Two of those six bowls will host the top four teams on a rotating basis, and the semifinal winners will meet for the title. The other four “host bowls” will get the highest-rated teams remaining, though league tie-ins could play a factor in that schedule.
The makeup of the selection committee has yet to be determined. One team from the “Group of Five” conferences — the MAC, Mountain West, American Athletic, Conference USA and Sun Belt — will get an automatic bid to one of the host bowls. How will that be determined? Nobody knows yet.
“It’s not perfect, but it’s an enhancement and an improvement to what it is,” Kelly said.
Quotable: “I always say we have the best player in the MAC coming back on the defensive side of the ball and we also signed the best recruit that I could’ve signed. That was Khalil Mack, because he was looking to leave and go to the NFL.” — Buffalo coach Jeff Quinn on senior linebacker Khalil Mack
“Personally, I’d like to explore some need-based models. But I’ll engage in whatever the discussion is and we’ll see where we go from there. We’ve got to quit kicking the can down the road. We’ve got to sit down and figure out a solution that is viable.” — Steinbrecher on player stipends
“I call (players like Dri Archer) 80 guys. You’ve got guys that can take a hitch and go 80. It makes a new quarterback a lot better.” — Kent State coach Paul Haynes