Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Marques Grimes celebrates with his teammates after Ohio beat Akron 9-3 to clinch the MAC East title to book Ohio’s ticket to Detroit for the MAC Championship game against Western Michigan. (CARLFONTICELLA \ FILE)
CANTON – Frank Solich had finally gotten the cookies he wanted.
Early in the afternoon Wednesday, he wondered if any cookies were around. He munched on a Snickerdoodle and a chocolate chip cookie.
Solich had grown a heavy gray stubble over the summer. The Bobcats ended last season with two losses, but that didn’t seem to bother him at all. He still wore a smile that’s more contagious than the flu and was relaxed as ever.
He fiddled with his cookies for a few seconds. But then it was time to talk business: his team.
Solich, running back A.J. Ouellette and defensive back Javon Hagan represented the Bobcats at the 2017 Mid-American Conference Media Day. Instead of Ford Field in Detroit, the site of this year’s media day was the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.
The Bobcats were selected to win the MAC East in the conference’s preseason poll, but they weren’t selected to win the MAC Championship. They finished with 11-first place votes; Miami finished with 12. Toledo was widely selected to win the MAC West and ultimately the MAC Championship Game.
Ohio’s mindset was still as tough as ever.
“I don’t know that’s all that meaningful to us,” Solich said.
Ohio won the MAC East last season, but it lost against Western Michigan in the 2016 MAC Championship Game. Along with that loss, and another against Troy in the Dollar General Bowl, it left the Bobcats feeling sour.
It was a disappointing way to end a season that was filled with accomplishments: defeating Bowling Green for the first time since 2011, boasting the No. 1 ranked rushing defense in the MAC and one of the best in the country and defeating Toledo at the Glass Bowl for the first time since 1967.
While the Bobcats want to forget how last season ended, they want to remember beating Toledo.
The only other team in the MAC that beat the Rockets last year? Western Michigan, the conference’s defending champions.
“What I’m excited about is that they (Toledo) have to come to us,” Ouellette said. “I’d like to see how they play at Peden Stadium.”
The Bobcats played arguably their best game of the season during the win against the Rockets. Running back Dorian Brown rushed for 212 yards, and he became the first Ohio running back to rush for more than 200 rushing yards in a game since Chris Garrett did so in 2008 against Miami.
Though the Bobcats outplayed the Rockets in the Glass Bowl, they know winning at Peden isn’t a guarantee. The Bobcats will play the Rockets at home on Nov. 8.
“Just how we went to the Glass Bowl and defeated them (Toledo), they can come to Peden Stadium and defeat us,” Hagan said. “Home or away we still have to get the job done.”
Ouellette had a glimmer of hope in his eyes and a sly smile on his face when he thought about Toledo being predicted to win the MAC. He had just talked with Rockets quarterback Logan Woodside on Tuesday.
The Rockets are predicted to win the MAC now, but it’s the end of July. Ouellette would like to see what the MAC is looking like in December.
“They’re a great team. The preseason people they can pick what they want,” Ouellette said. “You gotta earn it on the field. I hope that motivates them as much as the MAC East motivates us.”