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It's a big year for newcomers in the Mid-American Conference as five schools welcome new head coaches, four of whom begin their first career stint at the helm.

Steve Addazio takes over at Temple. In 2010, he served as the associate head coach and offensive coordinator for Florida Gators and helped the Gators win two BCS national championships (2006, 2008) in the last five years.

Northern Illinois welcomes Dave Doeren, who spent five years at Wisconsin, the final two as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.

Darrell Hazell begins his tenure at Kent State after spending the last six years as the assistant head coach at Ohio State.

Pete Lembo brings head coaching experience to Ball State. As a head coach, Lembo has a 79-36 record, including going 35-22 as head coach at Elon and 44-14 in five years at Lehigh.

Miami hired alumnus Don Treadwell to head its program. Treadwell, who spent the last four years as Michigan State's offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach, was a four-year starter at wide receiver at Miami (1978-81).

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Lockport native David Fluellen (inset) begins his sophomore season at Toledo listed as the co-No. 3 running back on the Rockets' preseason depth chart. Last year, Fluellen gained 224 yards on 38 carries and scored one touchdown. He missed four games with a knee injury, but returned against Bowling Green on Nov. 17.

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To recap the best of 2010, Miami (Ohio) was the most improved program in the nation last season, going from 1-11 in 2009 to 10-4 in 2010. The RedHawks defeated Northern Illinois, 26-21, in the Marathon MAC Championship Game with a touchdown with 33 seconds left in regulation. Miami then went on to defeat Middle Tennessee State, 35-21, in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.

Other bowl appearances included a 40-17 win by Northern Illinois over Fresno State in the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl. Ohio lost to Troy in the R L Carriers New Orleans Bowl and Toledo fell to Florida International in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.

It was the third straight year that the MAC had four or more schools appear in bowl games.

> East Division

AKRON

Coach: Rob Ianello

2010 record: 1-11 (1-7)

Preseason media poll: 7th

Key players: LB Brian Wagner, CB Manley Waller, FS Josh Richmond, TE Richard Hall, DT Oren Wilson.

Quick kick: Akron was outscored, 153-51, in the second quarter last season.

BOWLING GREEN

Coach: Dave Clawson

2010 record: 2-10 (1-7)

Preseason media poll: 5th

Key players: WR Kamar Jorden, OL Ben Bojicic, DL Chris Jones, LB Dwayne Woods.

Quick kick: The Falcons will look to improve their ground game on both ends. Opponents rushed for 2,493 last season while the Falcons ran for just 754.

BUFFALO

Coach: Jeff Quinn

2010 record: 2-10 (1-7)

Preseason media poll: 6th

Key players: DL Steven Means, LB Khalil Mack, PR Terrell Jackson, WR Marcus Rivers, OL Matt Ostrowski.

Quick kick: The Bulls need better starts in 2011 after being outscored, 75-6, in the first quarter last season.

KENT STATE

Coach: Darrell Hazell

2010 record: 5-7 (4-4)

Preseason media poll: 4th

Key players: DE Roosevelt Nix, P Matt Rinehart, WR Tyshone Goode.

Quick kick: Nix was the MAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2010 with 20 tackles for loss.

MIAMI

Coach: Don Treadwell

2010 record: 8-4 (7-1)

Preseason media poll: 1st

Key players: LB Jerrell Wedge, QB Zac Dysert, DL Austin Brown.

Quick kick: Only Ben Roethlisberger (.655) has a better career completion percentage for the RedHawks than Dysert (.630).

OHIO

Coach: Frank Solich

2010 record: 8-4 (6-2)

Preseason media poll: 2nd

Key players: OL Joe Flading, OL A.J. Strum, PK Matt Weller, LB Noah Keller, WR LaVon Brazill.

Quick kick: A veteran team should continue to improve, particularly with WR Brazill returning from leg and hand injuries.

TEMPLE

Coach: Steve Addazio

2010 record: 8-4

Preseason media poll: 3rd

Key players: RB Bernard Pierce, TE Evan Rodriguez, DL Adrian Robinson, DB Kee-ayre Griffin, RB Matt Brown.

Quick kick: Pierce is the key to the Owls offense. He ran for 1,361 yards and 16 TDs as a freshman but injury held him to just 728 yards and 10 TDs last year.

> West Division

BALL STATE

Coach: Pete Lembo

2010 record: 4-8 (3-5)

Preseason media poll: 5th

Key players: DB Sean Baker, LB Travis Freeman, KR Eric Williams.

Quick kick: Ball State will need to vastly improve an offense that ranked 109th in passing, averaging just 154 yards with 18 TDs and 16 interceptions.

CENTRAL MICHIGAN

Coach: Dan Enos

2010 record: 3-9 (2-6)

Preseason media poll: 4th

Key players: DB Jahleel Addae, QB Ryan Radcliff, OL Eric Fisher.

Quick kick: The Chippewas outscored opponents in the fourth quarter, 120-61, but failed to convert on big plays in big games.

EASTERN MICHIGAN

Coach: Ron English

2010 record: 2-10 (2-6)

Preseason media poll: 6th

Key players: QB Alex Gillett, CB Marlon Pollard, CB Marcell Rose.

Quick kick: The last winning season for Eastern Michigan was 1995.

NORTHERN ILLINOIS

Coach: Dave Doeren

2010 record: 10-2 (8-0)

Preseason media poll: 2nd

Key players: QB Chandler Harnish, OL Trevor Olson, OL Scott Wedige, DE Sean Progar.

Quick kick: Harnish can do a bit of everything at QB, rushing for 836 yards and seven TDs last season while throwing for 2,530 yards and 21 TDs with just five interceptions.

TOLEDO

Coach: Tim Beckman

2010 record: 8-4 (7-1)

Preseason media poll: 1st

Key players: RB Adonis Thomas, WR/KR Eric Page, LB Dan Molls, OL Mike VanDerMeulen.

Quick kick: The Rockets lost just nine lettermen from last year's team and Page, a junior, is one of the best offensive weapons in the MAC.

WESTERN MICHIGAN

Coach: Bill Cubit

2010 record: 6-6 (5-3)

Preseason media poll: 3rd

Key players: DB Lewis Toler, QB Alex Carder, WR Jordan White, PK John Potter.

Quick kick: Junior QB Carder completed 63 percent of his passes last year for 3,334 yards and 30 TDs.

email: amoritz@buffnews.com