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(All information as of June 20, 2008)
COACH AND PROGRAM
Entering his fifth season as the head coach of the Akron Zips, J.D. Brookhart believes he has laid the groundwork for the Zips to scramble back to the top of the MAC. It started with some difficult decisions before the start of the 2007 season.
The Zips, who claimed their sole MAC football championship in 2005, engaged in a little addition by subtraction last season, and while the short-term results were disappointing -- a sixth-place 4-8 finish -- Brookhart believes the program is on the right path.
"I made a conscious decision last season to let seven players go, and many of them were key contributors," Brookhart said. "It was important, though, for the program to properly represent the school. We wanted to do things the right way, and I believe we achieved that objective."
Despite their disappointing sixth-place finish in the MAC East last year, Brookhart has no regrets. "Truthfully, I had more fun coaching this team last year than I have ever had. I really like this group we have going into this season. We're not overly talented, but then again no one in the MAC is that deep, and that's what makes this league so tough."
But can the Zips compete for a MAC East title this season? Brookhart is emphatic in his belief Akron is up to the task.
"We were ready to compete last year," Brookhart said. "We've got the right stuff and everybody on our roster is able to compete. Look at last year -- we finished strong against the two-time champs [Central Michigan] and were only down 3-2 at halftime to Ohio State," a game that the Zips eventually lost 20-2.
Akron returns eight starters on offense but will need to replace more than half of its starting defense from 2007 in its quest to recapture a little bit of MAC glory.