A roaring stadium, or what many in the football world call “The Twelfth Man,” can be the deciding factor in any close matchup.
With fans going insane and filling the stadium with noise, any defensive player will tell you that there is no better feeling than your home crowd pumping you up as you get ready for that final goal line stand to stop an offense. But, with so much excitement going into Eastern Michigan University’s fall football season, the question is, will the student body pack Rynearson Stadium?
Everyone in the Ypsilanti area has been clamoring for the team since they were able to finally break through last season under head coach Ron English and finish with a record of 6-6. This was the first winning record for the Eagles since 1995. English started his career at EMU with a rocky start, going 0-12 and being called the second worst team in the nation in 2009 by ESPN. Since then, he has built on the program and improved on wins each season.
Even still, other than the homecoming win against Western Michigan last year, the Rynearson Stadium has not been a very loud place. While it was built to hold 30,200 people it has never actually met that mark. The most packed it has ever been was in a 56-52 win over Central Michigan University in 2008 with 26,188 people in attendance, which was only 87 percent capacity.
When asking students whether or not they would be attending games this year, the main wish was for the team to start winning.
“People have joked about how bad the team has been for so long. I think if the team is actually good people will start filling in,” said incoming EMU student Cory Reitman.
Part of the low attendance for home games could be attributed to the Rynearson Stadium’s location.
“It’s a pretty long walk for people and just hard to get there on foot from where I live,” sophomore Tim Baertson said. “I went to about three home games last year and I want to go to more, but for a campus where so many people commute it’s going to be important for the people who live on campus to actually show up for games and get loud.”
“People would go nuts around Ypsilanti if they were to actually win the Mid-American Conference and get to a bowl game again,” junior Rannie Johnson said. “I didn’t go to any games last year, but if they were to actually go to a bowl game this year I’d jump on the bandwagon.”
It was 1987 when Eastern won its only MAC championship and bowl game, when they went up against Fresno State in the California Bowl. With the team knocking on the door last year one win away from a bowl game, everyone on campus will need to be electric in the stands this year if the team is able to return to bowl game success.