COLUMN: Will EMU football be in the same predicament five years from now?
In five years, will Eastern Michigan University’s athletic department be in an all too familiar position of holding a press conference to introduce a new head coach?
Time will only tell, but in the interim, Chris Creighton was formally introduced as EMU’s 37th full-time head coach on Thursday inside the atrium of the Convocation Center.
Creighton showed the enthusiasm and motivation to win at all costs in front of the media and coaches such as Rob Murphy and Tory Verdi, but the question remains whether or not his energy will translate into victories on the field.
“To get 100 [players] on the same page, that’s an incredibly simple and difficult thing to do,” Creighton said. “It goes against our human nature and how quickly the relationships can develop is usually how long it takes for the culture to change.”
With three wins against Football Bowl Subdivision teams (Western Michigan University (twice) and Army) in the last two seasons, the Eagles must adapt to a new culture and start from scratch.
“It’s not just, can I trust you to run the right route, [it is a matter of] fundamentally trusting [a player],” Creighton mentioned. “The [players] need to be asking the same question about everyone on the staff and sometimes it takes some time to build.”
While his coaching staff has yet to be announced, Creighton faces the daunting task of turning around a team who under previous coaches Ron English and Stan Parrish went a combined 12-48 in five seasons.
On average, that is losing four out of five games and at Drake University from 2008-13, Creighton went 44-22 and equals out to two out of every three contests won.
No rebuilding project of this scale will ever be complete overnight and Creighton knows he will have to be able to recruit players in Michigan if he wants to have any hope of turning things around.
“We are going to start right here in Michigan,” Creighton said. “Some of that is going to be predicated by the staff that we are going to put together. I know that the great programs are built when they can draw a circle whether it’s a half-hour or three hours from that location. We want to do the best we can right at home.”
No matter how much the Eagles can reach their full potential on and off the field, wins and losses is what they will be judged by at the end of each season.
“I really do believe success is maximizing your potential and that is hard to do,” Creighton said. “That is something you are constantly going after as an individual and a team.”
Another coach and a new set of expectations is a stark reminder of the familiar tones of failure at EMU.
The Eagles last made a bowl game in 1987 when they were known as the Hurons and defeated San Jose State University 30-27 in the California Bowl.
I am very confident most students were not born around that time and have no recollection or familiarity of the moment.
It has been 26 long and grueling seasons since its last postseason appearance, but the fans have to find a way now more than ever to show support and come to the home games at Rynearson and not tailgate at the parking lot across the street beforehand and leave.
The expectations can be set high as much as possible, but at days’ end, if a 4-8 record is a sign of improvement next season, then standards have no meaning on the muted campus of EMU.
Follow Eugene Evans on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.