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Spring football: coaching update

March 31, 2013

While most of the country’s sports fans are glued to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, here in Ypsilanti it’s time to turn our eyes to football. EMU football is going through a lot of changes this off-season, but perhaps none are as big as the coaching staff turnover.


It began immediately after the Northern Illinois game, when Ron English — giving voice to a criticism fans have had for several years — indicated his dissatisfaction with the offense, laying the blame on the coaches. To no one’s surprise, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ken Karcher was shown the door within about a week.

After that, and once it became clear that 1) Ron English would be back at EMU in 2013, but 2) he would not get a contract extension before the season, meaning 3) English’s contract, and the contracts of all his assistants, will end on 12/31/2013, barring a single-season performance impressive enough to garner an extension, it was like rats fleeing a sinking ship; anyone who could get out was going to get out while the getting was good. Linebackers coach Randy Stewart headed to Cal, to be the defensive backs coach.1 Phil Snow, who had been the highest-paid assistant coach in the MAC as EMU’s defensive coordinator (and secondary coach), took the same job at Temple, a move the Owl faithful at Temple Football Forever were understandably underwhelmed by. The final departure was offensive line coach and running game coordinator Kurt Anderson, who left to be the offensive quality control coach for the Buffalo Bills.

That left the returning coaches as Ron English, Tom Burpee (tight ends and special teams), Ken Delgado (defensive line), Doug Downing (wide receivers and recruiting coordinator), and Mike Hart (running backs).


The first vacancy created was the first one filled, with English tapping Stan Parrish as the new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The early fan consensus on Parrish was that he was not great nor terrible, but probably the best OC English was going to bring in given the overall situation. The other new faces are KiJuan Ware, who despite his experience coaching offense, will work with EMU’s secondary, and a pair of young assistants, Ryan Oshnock and Brad Wilson.

Oshnock is a 2006 graduate of Wayne State who has spent three years as an assistant high school football coach and a year each as graduate assistant at Central Michigan, graduate assistant at Cincinnati,2 and defensive coordinator at Ferris State.3 He’s listed as EMU’s new special teams coach.

Wilson is a 2006 graduate of Ball State, following which he remained in Muncie as a graduate assistantant. Like Oshnock, when his head coach left for bigger things, Wilson followed, in this case going with Brady Hoke to San Diego State for another year as a graduate assistant. Wilson spent the last three years as offensive line coach and running game coordinator at Fort Lewis College, during which time the Skyhawks posted a 6-25 overall record, and 5-22 in the Division II Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, including five games in the last two years in which they were held scoreless. Wilson will coach EMU’s offensive line.

Grading the hires

Of the newcomers, Parrish certainly has the credentials for the job — although he’s struggled in several go-rounds as a head coach, he’s generally done well as an offensive coordinator — and I’d grade the hire as a solid B. Ware also has some legitimate experience, and although most of his coaching has come on the other side of the ball, as a defensive coaching hire, he’s probably a B- (would be an A if he were going to be coaching offense). Oshnock and Wilson, on the other hand, come in with no experience to speak of. I have to think that either they absolutely wowed English in person, or they were among very few interested coaches. They may turn out to be great coaches, and I may eat my words, but it’s hard to give those two hires anything better than a D.

Unanswered questions

If you’re keeping track at home, you may have noticed a few oddities about the coaching assignments. Both Tom Burpee and Ryan Oshnock are listed as special teams coach, and that’s Oshnock’s only listed assignment. No one is listed as coaching the linebackers. Normally I’d guess that the defensive coordinator would take on the missing position coach assignment, but…there’s no defensive coordinator listed. I can only guess that Ron English is planning on running the defense himself, but then…linebackers?

  1. Prior to his one year in Ypsilanti, Stewart spent his entire career out west, so there’s a geographical fit. []
  2. He followed head coach Butch Jones from Mount Pleasant to Cincinnati. []
  3. During his year with the Division II Bulldogs, Ferris State went 7-4 overall, and 6-4 in the GLIAC. []
7 Comments leave one →
  1. March 31, 2013 7:55 pm

    Yes. Coach E would probably take on both those duties.

    In many schools, the DC coaches the LBs too. Similar to that with the OC coaching QB’s. Hey, Im not mad about it. Coach was successful at the school down the street as a DC. Why not give it a shot…assuming this is his last chance to make it happen and impress the new AD – whoever that will be if not announced yet.

    • cmadler permalink*
      March 31, 2013 8:04 pm

      Well, DC/LB is one thing, but HC/DC/LB just seems like an awful lot, particularly at the FBS level. But hey, as you say, it’s first and foremost his job on the line, so if he feels that he’s the best person for the job…

      • April 1, 2013 8:19 am

        Yes. I agree. I thought that in addition to HC, that would be a lot. We can only wait and see.

      • mwold permalink
        April 1, 2013 6:31 pm

        Most of the offensive duties with be handed off to Parrish

  2. Kenneth Barna permalink
    April 1, 2013 9:45 am

    Dear cmadler,
    While I will agree that a good coach can bring players to a higher level of performance, the flip side is the quote; ‘You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken s….’. My logic, if you follow, you can be the greatest coach in the world, but if you don’t have talent you aren’t going to develop anyone. So in fairness to Coach Wilson, maybe he only had chicken s… to work with.

  3. Eagle123 permalink
    April 1, 2013 1:57 pm

    Mark Criner former D-coordinator at Cincinnati, Middle Tennessee, and most recently Idaho is the LB coach. Don’t know why it hasn’t been announced yet.

  4. Chief Huron permalink
    April 2, 2013 4:40 am

    English has said he will hiring a LB coach and the offical roster listed the position as a TBA.

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