The Waiting Game…
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.