The first year of the Chris Creighton era is in the books and a new chapter is set to begin as fall camp approaches. Looking back on the last year, a lot of learning, and quite a bit of turbulence went into the first year of Creighton’s coaching tenure, but it’s been an all around joy for Coach Creighton.
“I’ve had an absolute blast this last year and a half. Saturday afternoons last fall were frustrating, there’s no question about that,” said Creighton. “I look back on the last year and it’s been hard, but a good hard, it’s been awesome being here.”
As a new head coach of a division one college football program that’s been in shambles for many years, Creighton knew it was a huge task in taking over at Eastern Michigan. He’s embracing the challenge and truly believes EMU football will be great.
The first year is tough for any coach in college football, especially when the program has been down for so long. The tasks of hiring a staff, getting to know the university and its people, learning about the team as much as possible, and then trying to clean up everything that needed fixing is a lot to handle in a short amount of time.
“The first year you really do all you can to learn your personnel before the season starts, but when you’re going against your own offense and your own defense, it’s hard to flush that out,” said Creighton. “We learned a lot that first year, so going into the second year with our offense and our defense we understand our puzzle a lot better.”
Last season, EMU would go on a week-to-week basis of deciding who would start at quarterback between Reggie Bell and Rob Bolden. There were questions as to what offensive lineman would start, what running backs fit into which schemes, and which defensive personnel matched up well with the opponents.
Even though the 2-10 record was not what Creighton was hoping for, he still sees the growth that this team has had throughout the year.
“We did not go backwards on the season,” said Creighton. “We built up so much momentum, and built the relationships, and installing and instilling the program, and despite being frustrated on Saturday afternoon, we didn’t implode and go backwards.”
Mental toughness is something Creighton preaches, and leading up to games EMU came out to fight. Some of the games ending in much closer results than others, but this team wanted to play and compete at a high level.
Creighton is not using the win and loss column to define the program just yet.
“I think we’re absolutely taking strides, you know there’s the one measuring stick that everyone cares about and everybody looks at Saturday afternoons in the fall. We care about that as well, but in order for that to change so many other things have to change,” said Creighton.
Since taking over the program Coach Creighton has instilled a blue-collar mentality around the team, with a slogan of being “E Tough.” But he also believes there is more to football than just what is seen on the field. He wants to be sure playing football and being a part of this program is one of the best experiences these guys have in their lifetime.
The team has put in more community service hours than ever before, such as hosting events like victory day; which allows kids with special needs to come meet the team, run drills and do all the things the athletes get to enjoy.
Getting impact men to play football at Eastern Michigan is the goal Creighton and his staff has, but recruiting doesn’t exactly come easy.
“Recruiting, if you’re doing it right, is difficult everywhere no matter where you’re at,” said Creighton. “Whoever the number one team in the nation is, it’s still difficult.”
Eastern Michigan has been able to pull in a couple of good recruiting classes; in 2015 EMU had 25 commits sign their national letter of intent and have had a few more freshmen walk-ons and junior college transfers join the program as well.
Creighton and his crew will kickoff the 2015 season on September 5 at 3PM in a rematch from last season's 17-3 loss against Old Dominion.