COLUMN: Win or go home: English needs to step up his game
Every week for almost eternity has been a must win-game for Eastern Michigan University football, but more importantly head coach Ron English.
Win or lose, each game has continued to go by the wayside with the “must win” games now becoming the ultimate do or die game for English.
The College Football Playoff for the Football Bowl Subdivision does not kick in until next season, but for head coach Ron English and the Eastern Michigan University football team, this Saturday’s game at UB Stadium on the campus of the University at Buffalo (Noon, TV: WXYZ Detroit, Radio: WEMU 89.1 FM) is a de facto elimination game in terms of what direction the program will go after the clock says triple zeros across the stadium scoreboard.
Not only is it an elimination game for English, but can also think of this game as his Super Bowl, Game Sevens in the World Series, Stanley Cup and National Basketball Association Finals rolled up into one like a crescent.
The recent firings University of Southern California head coach Lane Kiffin and the University of Connecticut head coach Paul Pasqualoni within a 48-hour span this week has now put the pressure front and center on English to win on the road Saturday against Buffalo or face a strong possibility of being dismissed as coach and defensive coordinator.
Ironically, a 41-12 loss to Buffalo on the road this past Saturday and an 0-4 record on the season led to Pasqualoni’s dismissal in his third season at 10-18 overall.
Also, this is coming off of a close call to the University of Michigan Wolverines the week before 24-21— a game where Pasqualoni’s team led for a significant part of the game.
Kiffin, in his fourth season as USC’s head coach was let go hours after a 62-41 road loss to Arizona State University last Saturday. He went 28-15 in his four seasons as the Trojans coach (10-2 overall in 2011) and yet with those firings, English, in his fifth season with an 11-41 record has lasted longer which is a testament to the fact that he has been given more chances than any coach I can remember in recent history to succeed.
Trust me, I don’t mean it in a positive manner, when I say that.
There were many fans and media members calling for English’s firing after going 2-10 last season, but somehow he was spared and the sacrificial lambs were some members of his coaching staff.
If EMU athletic director Heather Lyke wants to create a winning culture, then getting rid of English (If he can not win on Saturday) will be what is best for fans who have been waiting for decades not only for a winning product, but to make it back to a bowl game (Last bowl appearance: 1987 California Bowl).
Not only that, but at 1-4 and 0-2 in the Mid-American Conference, the season would be a lost cause and there would be no point of putting fans through the same song and dance capped off by another potential ten-loss campaign.
No matter the conference affiliation, a coach has to be able to win on the road and the most concerning part of this is that English has yet to win back-to-back games away from home.
Buffalo presents the final opportunity to prove everyone wrong and show that the offense and defense can put all of the pieces together for four quarters, but even if EMU wins, they must then go to Army to show that year’s win was no fluke.
No longer does the margin of the final score matter because English has had more opportunities in his four-plus years at EMU to win games of impact, especially on the road.
Since taking over as head coach in 2009, English has been a dismal 4-24 away from Rynearson Stadium (2010- Ball State and Buffalo, 2011- Central Michigan and 2012- Western Michigan).
If the Eagles lose on Saturday, Buffalo could very well become the place where coaches’ careers come to a sad, yet poetic ending with better days to come.
And I implore the administration for once to do simply what is right for the EMU fans and that is to give them a beacon of light for the future.
Follow Eugene Evans on Twitter @EasternEchoGeno.