"Directional Michigan" is a term used in college football to describe the three similarly named public universities competing at the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision level in the Mid-American Conference's West Division.
The term has found repeated use in ESPN.com's Bottom 10 rankings, and has been picked up by other sportswriters. In 2008, when Central Michigan and Western Michigan were selected for bowl games while Michigan was not, one sportswriter commented, "That makes two directional Michigan schools in bowl games. That has to be killing the Wolverines’ fans." The term is also used in other sports such as basketball.
The three schools that make up the "Directional Michigan" moniker are:
*Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant.
*Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti.
*Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.
A fourth university, Northern Michigan University in Marquette, is not normally included in the group for football despite being a directionally-named school in Michigan. It competes at the Division II level as a member of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. However, the term may include Northern Michigan in discussions of college ice hockey, in which both Western Michigan and have strong programs.