Commentary: English, staff can't be graded on one season

Football coach Ron English said he didn’t want the team to go down in infamy as a winless one.

But it happened Friday. Eastern Michigan University finished 0-12 – the ninth time in program history it’s gone without a win and the first since 1981 (0-11) – after a 28-21 loss at Akron.

The only other FBS school with a chance to go winless is Western Kentucky. It plays Arkansas State (3-8) on Thursday.

English and his staff will stay, as they should. One season, even one as atrocious as this, isn’t enough for any staff to turn around a historically losing program.

English has had the utmost support from athletic director Dr. Derrick Gragg from the day he was hired in December 2008.

The problems start with a defense that allowed 38 points and 427 (277 rushing) yards per game. Eric Lewis simply didn’t get the job done in his first year as a defensive coordinator.

How 0-12 happened

Opponent; score; time led
Army; L27-14; 0:00
Northwestern; L27-24; 0:00
Michigan; L45-17; 0:00
Temple; L24-12; 0:00
Central Michigan; L56-8; 0:00
Kent State; L28-6; 0:00
Ball State; L29-27; 37:21
Arkansas; L63-27; 0:00
Northern Illinois; L50-6; 0:00
Western Michigan; L35-14; 4:02
Toledo; L47-21; 0:00
Akron; L28-21; 0:00

Total: L459-197; 41:23

Ninth winless season in program history, first since 1981 (0-11).

Offensive coordinator Ken Karcher didn’t exactly whip together a prolific offense, either. The team averaged 16 points and 278 yards in the transition from a spread to a pro-style scheme.

Nevertheless, changing coordinators or other staff members won’t do much good this early in their tenure.

It’d retract from what the players have the learned. It was a steep curve, especially for those recruited by former coach Jeff Genyk.

The blame can’t all fall on the coaching staff, though. The players are the ones who are on the field, and even that was a rare occurrence.

The team was ravaged with injuries, which led to a lot of freshmen and underclassmen getting regular playing time – most notably freshman quarterback Alex Gillett. The experience gained will be valuable.

The lifeline of any program is recruiting, and that should improve a bit with the construction of a practice facility that’s expected to be completed in the spring.

Now is the time for English and his staff to make the best of what they have and try to sign decent players.

Needless to say, going winless isn’t acceptable if the administration truly wants to win. And if it continues early next year, expect a shorter leash.

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