The Eastern Michigan University Athletic Department announced the hiring of Chris Creighton as the Eagles’ football coach Wednesday night, replacing interim coach Stan Parrish, who took over after Ron English was fired in November.
Creighton, 44, was previously the coach at Drake University, holding a 38-17 record in five seasons as the Bulldogs’ coach.
“I’m looking forward to officially joining the EMU family,” Creighton said to WEMU 89.1 FM Wednesday night.
Before taking the job at Drake, Creighton was the coach at Wabash College in Indiana (2001-07) with a 63-15 record in seven seasons and Ottawa University in Kansas (1997-2000) where he had a 32-9 overall record.
“It is with great pride that we introduce Chris Creighton as our new head football coach,” EMU Vice President and Director of Athletics Heather Lyke said in a press release. “In Chris, Eastern Michigan will find an extraordinary leader who will be a great ambassador for our University. During the search process, Chris’ focus on positively impacting the lives of our student-athletes and building a championship program was most impressive. As a proven winner and head coach, Chris’ experience with creating and sustaining success will inspire our student-athletes to elevate our football program to a championship level.”
Earlier in the week, Eastern Illinois University coach Dino Babers interviewed for, and was considered by some, to be a favorite for the EMU job. Babers led the Panthers to a 19-6 record in two seasons as coach.
University of Louisville running backs and special teams coach Kenny Carter and Colorado State University-Pueblo coach John Wristen also interviewed for the job.
In the release, Creighton expressed his gratitude for being hired to the coaching position.
“I want to sincerely thank Heather Lyke, President Martin and the Board of Regents for entrusting me with the leadership of the Eastern Michigan University football program,” Creighton said. “It is both a huge opportunity and responsibility and I am fired up about it. My vision is to make playing football at Eastern Michigan one of the most incredible experiences of our players lives. I cannot wait to meet the team and start a new journey with them.”
Senior Frank Anderson, vice president of the Eagle Nation fan section said he was impressed with Creighton’s previous coaching experience.
“It wasn’t the name many of us expected, but he’s a proven winner at each school he’s been to,” Anderson said. “I appreciate that he’s had a relatively lengthy career at head coach as well, as opposed to primarily coordinating positions.”
Anderson said he wants to see Creighton make some major improvements on both sides of the ball.
“He’ll obviously be working with athletes that weren’t his recruits, but I’d like to see significant changes on the defensive side of the ball,” he said. “A serious change in offensive philosophy is also needed, and as he seems like an offensive mind, I hope to see major improvement in the offensive statistics.”
Alumnus and former student-athlete Kirk Keebler, ’92, said in order to succeed, Creighton needs to quickly earn the respect of his players.
“Well he’s walking into a bit of a mess and won’t have much of an opportunity to recruit,” Keebler said. “I would say he would have a very successful season if he had five wins and was competitive in the losses. But just as important, and maybe even more so, I hope he wins over the locker room quickly and the players buy into whatever his philosophy is.”
Keebler said he was happy to see a coach without any ties to the University of Michigan, as English had when he was hired.
“He [Creighton] also does not have any University of Michigan ties, which I hope will allow him to create his own identity, and really make this his own,” Keebler said.
A news conference will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday in the atrium of the Convocation Center to introduce him to the media and the EMU community.
Follow Al Willman on Twitter: @AlWillmanEcho