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Names to know: potential EMU football coaches, part one

November 9, 2013

With Ron English officially out the door, it’s now time to turn our eyes to the candidates to be his successor. We’v e discussed the criteria that Heather Lyke should consider, but in short, the new head coach should have prior experience as a head coach, and preferably have some local ties, or at least connections to the Midwest. Although there are a few former FBS coaches who we’ll include in part 2 of this list, most of the names under consideration have been successful at lower levels, including the Missouri Valley Football Conference, the Ohio Valley Conference, the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, and other FCS and Division II conferences.

Mark Farley

The sell: Although his teams have struggled the last couple of years, Farley has a 108-51 career record after 12-3/4 seasons as head coach at Northern Iowa. In that time he’s led the Panthers to seven Missouri Valley Football Conference titles, three appearances in the Division I-AA/FCS semifinals, and finished as national runners-up in 2005. A true defensive mastermind, he’s done all that while serving as both head coach and defensive coordinator. In 2007 he won the Eddie Robinson Award,1 a recognition he shares with such coaches as Jerry Kill, Pete Lembo, Houston Nutt, and Jim Tressel.

The catch: Farley grew up in that area of Iowa. Coming out of high school he wasn’t really recruited, and took a year off before starting college. Here’s what his bio says:

His job as a truck driver brought him through Cedar Falls each Monday. He would drop into the UNI-Dome to check out the Panther football team. In the fall of 1982, he walked on to the team, redshirting that first season. He received the Special Team Award his second year, then became a starting inside linebacker three years. He earned honorable mention all-America honors twice, was named MVFC co-Defensive Player of the Year, was selected a team co-captain, and was named a two-time academic all-American. He led the team in tackles three consecutive years.

In other words, he’s coaching at the school that he 1) probably grew up cheering for, 2) gave him a chance as a collegiate athlete, 3) made him a star athlete, 4) gave him his start in coaching, 5) has coached for the last 12 years while raising three children. Getting him to EMU would be a very hard sell indeed.

Craig Bohl

The sell: Craig Bohl is another Eddie Robinson Award winner — the most recent, in fact. He has a 97-32 record as a head coach in 10-3/4 years at North Dakota State. During that time he’s brought them three conference championships (Great West in 2006, Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2011 and 2012), but more notably they’ve won the last two FCS national championships, and with an 8-0 record and a #1 ranking they could be well on their way to a three-peat.

The catch: If Bohl is interested in leaving Fargo, he’ll likely draw the attention of some deep-pocketed programs with which EMU will not be able to compete financially. The only real hope of drawing him to Ypsilanti is if he’s most motivated by a difficult challenge.

Paul Winters

The sell: Through nearly 10 seasons as head coach at Wayne State, Winters has a 56-54 record, but after going 13-29 in his first four years they haven’t had a losing season since. They haven’t won any conference championships, but did manage a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference South Division title in 2010, and finished as Division II national runners-up in 2011, for which he was awarded the NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year award.

The catch: Winters has already turned down at least one MAC school, and that was his alma mater (and home town), Akron. At that time (December 2011), Winters said, “I’ve never used any job for a steppingstone. What I’m trying to do is establish a program that is consistently a winner, and I look at a Larry Kehres2 at Mount Union as someone I’d like to emulate.” On the other hand, the Warriors have struggled the last couple of years, and moving from Wayne State to EMU would not require a major relocation.

Chuck Martin

The sell: In six years at Grand Valley State, Martin posted a 74-7 record, inlcuding five consecutive GLIAC championships, four national championship game appearances, and back-to-back Division II national titles. From 2005 to 2007 the Lakers won 40 consecutive games, breaking a longstanding Division II record, and his teams never lost a regular-season game after his first season. There’s also a local connection, as he was EMU’s linebackers coach in 1998 and 1999 under Rick Rasnick.

The catch: After the 2009 season, he left Grand Valley State to join his predecessor, Brian Kelly, at Notre Dame. As the offensive coordinator for the Fighting Irish, Martin probably makes more than he would as a head coach at EMU, and he’ll get considered for head coaching vacancies at top-tier schools. Plus, EMU was 7-15 for the two years he was here, and he probably doesn’t have the fondest memories of Ypsilanti.

Matt Mitchell

The sell: Mitchell was Martin’s successor at Grand Valley State, and he’s kept things rolling, with a 34-10 record and one GLIAC championship through 3-3/4 seasons.

The catch: 34-10 and one conference championship is a far cry from where Martin left the program four years ago, when they were dominating the GLIAC and contending for national championships year after year. I have some doubts about Mitchell’s readiness for the challenges that being head coach at EMU would present.

Chris Creighton

The sell: One of the few coaches on this list who have had success at multiple schools, Creighton has 139-45 career record in 16-3/4 seasons at three schools. In four seasons at Ottawa University in Kansas his teams went 32-9, winning the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference twice. In seven years at Wabash College in Indiana, he went 63-15, winning four North Coast Athletic Conference titles and reaching the Division III quarterfinals twice. Now in his sixth year at Drake University (in Des Moines, Iowa), he is 44-21, and the Bulldogs are the two-time Pioneer Football League defending champions. Although his career isn’t splashed with national championships like Bohl’s or Martin’s, I find the repeated success across multiple schools nearly as impressive, and possibly more relevant to EMU’s needs.

The catch: He doesn’t have the flashiest resume, but it’s one that could be well-suited to EMU. If he succeeds in Ypsilanti he’d probably be moving on after five to seven years, but if we can get that success in the meanwhile, I’ll take it.

Stay tuned for part two…

  1. Basically FCS coach of the year. []
  2. Kehres retired this spring after 27 years at Mount Union with a record of 332-24-3, 23 conference championships, and 11 national championships. []
14 Comments leave one →
  1. Andy Dufresne permalink
    November 9, 2013 10:22 pm

    A few names from the Detroit News game story (some are repeats from the original post here).

    Former Western Michigan head coach Bill Cubit.
    Former Miami University head coach Mike Haywood.
    Wayne State head coach Paul Winters.
    Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chuck Martin.
    Buffalo Bills running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley.

    From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20131109/SPORTS0203/311090064#ixzz2kD05UBsM

    • Ken permalink
      November 10, 2013 12:46 am

      would Wheatley want to come back to Ypsilanti though?

      • Andy Dufresne permalink
        November 10, 2013 6:16 pm

        To be a head coach. Possibly. If I recall, he wasn’t fired.

        Of that list published in the news, Winters and Martin likely say no. Winters has turned down other MAC programs to stay at Wayne State. Martin probably makes more at Notre Dame than he would at Eastern.

        Not sure why people are on the Cubit bandwagon. Sure, he had some success early. But look at what a shambles he left the WMU program in.

  2. Chief Huron permalink
    November 10, 2013 1:53 pm

    Lets do some research here, Bohl signed a 8 year contract LAST year with North Dakota State. I like Doug Mallory from Indiana, Brad Salem MSU QB coach, the Youngstown State coach, Babers the Eastern Illinois coach, Jim Collins Saginaw Valley State and Cubit.

    • cmadler permalink*
      November 10, 2013 2:07 pm

      Yes, Bohl did just sign a nice long contract, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching MAC football it’s that a long-term contract is not really an obstacle if a coach wants to go and a school wants to get him — at most it’s a speed bump.

  3. Chief Huron permalink
    November 10, 2013 7:36 pm

    Sorry but $$$ in this program do matter. Some of the names mentioned defy explanation. Why after Glenn Bryant would EMU hire someone like Haywood the former Miami (O) coach? Winter’s time has some and gone, Jim Collins is a better bet as Div II coach. Why would people bring up candidates with no Midwest ties? No kids from Texas, Florida, California or outside of the midwest aren’t flocking to play football at EMU, you need to recruit welll within your area Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Illinois and maybe PA.

  4. Chief Huron permalink
    November 10, 2013 7:38 pm

    Look at shambles Fleck has caused at WMU-even worse than Cubit. Lets see Cubit is over .500 as Div I coach, has decent relationships with Michigan and Florida high school coaches, actually has brought WMU into bowl games and was involved in the community. All good reasons to hire him except we probably can’t afford him. Remember English made $420,000 a year, yes more than than the $175,000 per year we paid Genyk.

  5. Andy Dufresne permalink
    November 10, 2013 8:18 pm

    Fleck has barely been at WMU for a year. Blaming him for any problems this year is like blaming Ron English for going 0-12 in his first year.

    Take away Cubit’s first two years when he played with Gary Darnell’s players, Cubit is under .500. Even with those two years, he’s barely over .500 and never won a MAC title or even appeared in the championship game.

    There are significantly better options out there.

  6. Grady permalink
    November 11, 2013 3:27 pm

    Do we want a re-tread or do we want someone new from a lower level? I like the guy from Pittsburg State http://www.pittstategorillas.com/staff.aspx?staff=1

    IMO we need a guy who would see EMU as the capstone of his career. A guy finally looking to make big money and stay in one place till he retires. I am not saying this is the only way to go, but this is my way (and there are pluses and minuses to every candidate.)

    His DC coached at Saginaw Valley and under Jerry Kill and was a HC himself so these guys are not completely new to the Midwest.

    This may not be the guy, but this is the type of guy I want. He wont have his resume out when he wins 6 games and likely knows about community building from playing in small markets. He also is not likely to have the ego someone like English had who thought community building was beneath him.

  7. Ken permalink
    November 13, 2013 10:28 am

    Another board I read mentioned the Ferris State guy…what about him?

  8. Chief Huron permalink
    November 13, 2013 11:47 am

    When’s part two?

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