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The Waiting Game…

October 6, 2013

As depressing as the on field product has been this season, these are interesting times for Eastern Michigan football fans.  As the door closes on the Ron English era, a new one will open for…who?

This is the decision that awaits new Athletic Director Heather Lyke.  In some ways, I sympathize with Ms. Lyke, as this is a defining moment in her tenure as EMU AD, and she is just a few months on the job.  She must have known that this, the hiring of a new coach, was a distinct possibility.  But I am certain that she, as well as the rest of us, would have been happy to avoid this until season’s end.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, this team is no longer responding to Ron English.  Whether it is his fault, the players’ fault, or the assistants’ fault is irrelevant.  This team is playing poorly, making mental mistakes left and right.  The buck stops with the head coach.

Which brings us back to Heather Lyke.  She has a difficult job, because no matter who she selects there will be a disappointed segment of the fan base.  Specific names seem to start with former Western Michigan Head Coach Bill Cubit.  Cubit ran a successful program in Kalamazoo for years, and Eastern’s current personnel would seem to fit his system.  There will be many who do not want a retread from WMU taking over the program.  I understand the sentiment, but if Cubit were to be the hire, I would not be opposed.  One thing would be certain, Cubit would know exactly what he is getting into.

Finding a coach from the FCS ranks or even D-II seems to be a popular sentiment.  I see the logic in this as well, but would only be in favor of someone with local recruiting ties.  A coordinator from a BCS level program is another option, and one that usually seems to work out poorly.  This doesn’t discount the possibility that the right coordinator could be successful.  I’d love to get someone from Mark Dantonio’s staff, especially Pat Narduzzi, although that might be far-fetched.  MSU has a history of doing more with less, it is a solid program with a degree of toughness to it.  I’d like to see some of the toughness here in Ypsi.

Some of the rumors out there are fun.  Charlie Batch (intriguing, you don’t carry a clipboard next to Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin for years without learning a few things about coaching), Mike Hart (mistake), Lane Kiffin (seriously?).  As long as we are wildly speculating, what about Rob Murphy?  He’d whip the defense into shape, at the very least. 

As long as we are dealing in the realm of the absurd and unlikely, what happens if Interim Head Coach Stan Parrish were to go 4-4 to end the season and seemingly right the ship?  Parrish has had next to no success as a head coach in the past, but he is a highly-regarded football guy with local knowledge.  Would it be so bad to give him a shot if he can get this group to buy into his vision?  (I’m aware of how unlikely this is, but if Parrish does get the job for the rest of the season, it would be an important incentive to let him know that if he were to turn things around, he could be a legitimate candidate).

Lyke will have many options, but unfortunately for her there is no template in place to select a winning coach at EMU.  This points to the dual nature of her decision, on one hand, it is a defining moment and there is intense pressure for her to get it right.  On the other hand, if she DOES get it right, she will have done what many before her could not – oversee a winning program at Eastern.

For now, I think the best course of action is to give her a few days to make her decision.  She needs to make some kind of an announcement this week, either get rid of English or announce her support for him.  Once that happens, Eagle Totem will be here to dissect her decision.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. Grady permalink
    October 6, 2013 9:35 pm

    Great points – but lets go outside the box. I like this guy and he has staff that have Michigan ties. He just seems to be like a guy that would be thrilled to finally have a big payoff for his years grinding it out in D II and I would think he would want to finish his career here. That is the type I want …

  2. Ralph Pasola permalink
    October 7, 2013 8:05 am

    Talking absurd, how about Ron Adams. His Wyandotte team is excellent. He knows Michigan and he knows Eastern. The drawback for him is finishing his teaching stint to get a retirement from the State of Michigan.

  3. Kenneth Barna permalink
    October 7, 2013 8:21 am

    Dear Grady,
    Interesting possibility, but I didn’t see the Michigan ties. Not that that means anything in the scope of things. Did you get that information from their website?

  4. Block E permalink
    October 7, 2013 8:47 am

    Swear to god, I was KIDDING about Lane Kiffin!

  5. Grady permalink
    October 7, 2013 9:00 am

    Ralph – Ron is a great HS coach but we need a proven college coach. he would be a feel good pick but he would also be learning on the job; not something we need at this time

    Ken – the DC is from Saginaw Valley State; he had a stint as head coach at Emporia too

  6. Ken permalink
    October 7, 2013 9:50 am

    At least Ron Adams would know how to win at EMU…Same with Batch for that matter. But I’m still in favor of picking up a 1A or II head coach from somewhere. I know they are out there.

  7. Ken permalink
    October 7, 2013 9:52 am

    One more thing….since we’re bagging on English. It’s not as if discipline issues are anything new with the team. There are a couple instances where stupid penalties didn’t help some of the games during the 6-6 season. I’m not a fan of blaming the whole outcome of a game on a stupid penalty but when they start to pileup…..

  8. grady permalink
    October 7, 2013 10:08 am

    Ken – My take is it goes to the overall that the team was not/rarely prepared and that is on the coaches. In the losses to BSU and Buffalo, we were blown out from the start. Seriously, how do u give up 21 points in the first quarter at Homecoming in your first conference game? Especially when you are in the hot seat! This happened years ago to under English at HC – blown out from the start. Then the coaches rarely made adjustments. Last year we lost several games at the start of the third quarter. Score was tied at half and then we got blown out.

    Do you know why HC was so early this year? It came down to a choice between 9/21 and 10/19 (Ohio) and everyone really thought the 10/19 was a better time for HC as 9/21 is just too early and U-M was on the road and mid-October is a nice time with the colors etc.

    But the powers that be )wisely) thought there was a chance EMU would be 1-5 heading into the 10/19 game and Ohio has been a good program the past few years and they wanted to avoid that image for EMU – that of a 1-5 team limping into HC and getting toppled by a conference team. So when people criticize the marketing of athletics, keep in mind they have to take these things into consideration.

    The reality is English did not prove to be an effective head coach in every facet. Decent guy, tried his best and it did not work out. Let’s move on.

  9. Ken permalink
    October 7, 2013 3:06 pm

    Winning takes care of alot of these issues. it is tough to follow a team that is not winning.

  10. Andy Dufresne permalink
    October 7, 2013 3:51 pm

    The Pittsburg State guy could be good. As would Ferris State’s Tony Annese. Annese would be an interesting pick because he would have big ties to high school coaches in Michigan, since he really made a name for himself there.

    Another name to consider would be the Grand Valley coach. Eastern has had success before,hiring from there with Harkema. Could be time to dip into that well again.

    But whoever is named coach, the first thing they need to stop is the culture of losing. That means stop playing a Big Ten or other BCS team, just for a year or two or three. Allow the team and the new coach to get in the habit of winning or at least being competitive.

    No need to drop down a level. Other MAC teams have shown you can be successful at this level. But put your team in position to win, instead of just collecting a paycheck. Getting beat 42-3 doesn’t help you build anything (except your wallet). As the team starts to improve, you can start adding the BCS opponent back (and maybe even finally win one of those).

  11. grady permalink
    October 8, 2013 12:22 pm

    Andy – the coach likely has input – but the schedule is done by the AD and often long term. Not saying I disagree with you but your suggestion can be done now, no matter who the coach is.

    I would suggest one payday game is enough as we work to build. Keep U-M and MSU cause there are virtually no costs associated for those games and it just feels better to get beaten by those schools versus Penn State or Ohio State.

    • Andy Dufresne permalink
      October 8, 2013 4:52 pm

      In re-reading my original post, I see how it could be misconstrued. I meant as we build future schedules. Although they could buy out of one of those games, but that’s probably not financially feasible.

      The main thing with the schedule is to make sure you are getting home games in a better part of the calendar, especially early in the season. It sucks having just two home games when you have decent weather.

      It’s really hard to get anyone to a game in 40 degree weather in November, regardless of whether the team is winning or not.

    • Andy Dufresne permalink
      October 8, 2013 5:03 pm

      Just checked out some of the future schedules for EMU.

      In 2014, they host Morgan State and travel to Florida, Michigan State and Old Dominion.

      2015: Host Old Dominion and travel to Wyoming, LSU and Army.
      2016: at Charlotte and Michigan State. Host Wyoming and Army.
      2017: host Charlotte and travel to Army.

      That’s probably a bit better than the past couple years of schedules.

  12. mwold permalink
    October 8, 2013 4:23 pm

    If you going with a minority candidate, how about Turner Gill. He already has turned a program around in the MAC having lead Buffalo to a MAC championship

    • Ralph Pasola permalink
      October 8, 2013 9:46 pm

      What’s in it for Gill?

  13. Carl permalink
    October 9, 2013 9:21 am

    mwold – why does the candidate need (or not be) minority? why cant we just find the best person for the position right now?

  14. Chief Huron permalink
    October 9, 2013 1:48 pm

    We need to continue to play the Floridas and U of Ms in order to field a football team, its plain economics.

    • grady permalink
      October 9, 2013 5:09 pm

      Chief — agreed but he was making a point that we skip playing 2 auto loss games and maybe only do one – why the program builds a winning cunlture

  15. mwold permalink
    October 9, 2013 5:27 pm

    If you believe in second chances, Michael Haywood. He wants to get back into coaching and recently interviewed for the Tulane job.

  16. Chief Huron permalink
    October 9, 2013 6:49 pm

    Haywood is not someone I would consider to take my kitty litter out let alone coach young people. Remember the Glenn Bryant incident? We dont’ need that for the football program it has enough problems already.

    Oh yeah wasn’t the university going to explain how Glenn Bryant got to play on the team in violation of the University’s rules?


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