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On Cribbs, MAC realities and weekend predictions

By Zac

One thing about Joshua Cribbs’ most recent headline-grabbing comments.

He’s right.

He may not be right with his timing, or his approach, but he’s right that he’s “caged” and that a Browns offense that’s clearly improved but is still just a sneeze short of mediocre by league standards/numbers should be using Cribbs a whole lot more and in a whole lot of ways.

The guy makes plays and can play just about any position. At very least, he makes defenses think about where he is. He might even make them adjust.

And he catches the ball pretty consistently. A pretty novel concept, I know.

To dig deeper, Cribbs has motives. Frustration, both with his personal situation and all the losing, is clearly one of them. And we all know his contract is up at the end of the year, but Cribbs clearly isn’t speaking up/out as a true negotiating ploy.

Cribbs knows the people who are in charge now might not be when Contract Season comes. Sadly, he also knows the 2012 season is already over as far as winning anything is concerned. He’s a vocal guy, a passionate guy and also a savvy guy; he knows people will listen when he talks, even if they’ve heard it before. He wouldn’t say things like “there’s no point” in talking to the head coach if there was any point, or if there was any chance he’d really be hurting his prospects of either playing in Cleveland or the future or making significant money elsewhere.

If he hits the open market in March, “talks too much” will be about the 13th most important factor other teams will evaluate. On the list of the Browns current problems, it ranks even lower.

People will take sides in any Cribbs argument. In a way, the anti-Cribbs side may be right here in regard to his chosen method and timing — and that one of these “stories” pops up regarding Cribbs every year. But Cribbs is absolutely right when he says he could and should be doing more.

**

Why do I call him Joshua? Because when I was working for the Browns, one day a note was circulated that said he should be called Joshua on any team-distributed information, including the website, official roster, depth chart, etc.

Word was, his mother preferred Joshua — so Joshua preferred Joshua, too.

I once asked his mother why she preferred Joshua over Josh. She mentioned his name came from The Bible — and simply, that “his name is Joshua.” I would not mess with Mrs. Cribbs.

And Joshua it is.

**

So, I started out intending to write about Cribbs’ alma mater, Kent State, which plays a really big game Saturday afternoon at Bowling Green. A Kent State win clinches the MAC East title; Bowling Green wins it with a win here and next Friday in Columbus against Buffalo.

Such is reality in the Mid-American Conference. In order to maximize exposure on Ohio State-Michigan weekend, they’re playing a game in the same city as Ohio State-Michigan, just on the day before.

Also part of the MAC reality: Kent State – Bowling Green is not on national television. It’s a huge game by MAC standards, and it’s one that bowl representatives in lots of places will be keeping a close eye on. But it’s available only by a local affiliate picking it up, or by the standard pay-per-view package. And on that broadcast, there’s sure to be plenty of talk about KSU coach Darrell Hazell and BGSU coach Dave Clawson and their potential next jobs. That’s what happens every time a MAC program comes out of nowhere to grab the spotlight.

The MAC: Great year, not (all the way) there yet.

**

I spoke with MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher this week on those and a variety of other subjects. You can read that Q&A here.

**

Also from earlier this week: Playing the “what-if” game with bowl-banned Ohio State

**

A quick note/bit of guesswork on how the MAC bowl selections will go…

The MAC has automatic bowl placement in Detroit (Little Caesar’s), Boise (Idaho Potato Bowl) and Mobile (GoDaddy.com). Because the Big Ten, Big East, ACC and Conference USA aren’t likely to fill all their slots, all six bowl-eligible MAC teams have chance to get placed.

There’s no real pecking order because it’s in the MAC’s best interest to get its best teams in the best games — and to get people to the games. That means Toledo or Bowling Green is perfect for Detroit due to proximity. With the MAC Championship Game in Detroit Dec. 1, the league does its best to avoid bringing the teams that play there back for the bowl game.

If Kent State wins the MAC East, it’s probably not going back to Detroit for its bowl game. With the thought that people will be super excited because Kent State hasn’t been to a bowl since 1972, the Flashes would be an attractive candidate to fill a spot in the Military Bowl, Pinstripe Bowl or Heart of Dallas Bowl.

The latter game is played in Dallas, by the way.

Northern Illinois has a real star in QB Jordan Lynch. The Huskies went to Mobile last year, will be in Detroit Dec. 1 and, if they’re 12-1, would be a really strong candidate to go play in Texas, Alabama or New York City. Having multiple airports not far from DeKalb helps.

See how this goes? And why things are far from settled?

Crazy as it sounds, and it’s not likely at all because the schools would probably resist, but there’s even a small chance Toledo and Bowling Green could play each other in Detroit if Kent State wins tomorrow. The bowls have to fill the games — and do whatever they can to fill seats.

**

The Browns go to Dallas Sunday hoping to score what would be an impressive win. It would be big for Brandon Weeden, for sure, and big for lots of reasons as the Browns come out of the bye and look to put some wins on the board and make the rest of the season at least interesting.

Maybe Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo can help that. At home this season he’s thrown two touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

If nothing else, we all get to watch Rob Ryan coach. That’s always a treat.

As for the Bengals, they’re back in the AFC playoff race with a rather large asterisk. If they can build on last week and handle their business in the next two at the Chiefs and vs. the Raiders, then we’ll talk playoffs. Going to the Show Me State this week, well, they’ll have to Show Me they can play four more quarters like the four they played against the Giants.

Aren’t my puns just the best?

**

On to the weekend picks. Last week didn’t go so well.

Cowboys (-9) 24, Browns 20

Bengals (-3.5) 24, Chiefs 17

Steelers 20, Ravens (-3) 17

Wisconsin (-2) 29, Ohio State 24

Cincinnati (-6.5) 27, Rutgers 17

LAST WEEK: 2-3 straight up, 0-5 ATS

SEASON TOTAL: 37-18 straight up, 28-25-2, ATS

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