Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Next EMU Head Football Coach

Ron English, Photo courtesy of Michigan Exposures

It happened a month earlier than expected and I wouldn’t have guessed that the official cause for termination would be a secretly-recorded tirade where he called his players “
little q___ ass b_____, but Ron English is unemployed and the Eastern Michigan football program needs a head coach. Out is five-year head coach English and his 11-46 record and available is one of the least desirable head coaching jobs of any FBS football program in the country.

After making her first big fire, new athletic director and University of Michigan alum Heather Lyke gets to make her first big hire. EMU has always been bad at football. There was a brief four-year heyday from 1986-89, but they haven’t had a winning record since 1995. Just 2,177 souls came to see their last home game, which was actually a thrilling overtime victory against Western Michigan. They need hope. They need excitement. They need fundamentals. They need a miracle.

Allow me to assist, Ms. Lyke. Here is my analysis of potential head coaches for the Eagle's football program, sorted into somewhat arbitrary groups.


Tony Annese
The current head coach of the Ferris State Bulldogs, Tony Annese is a hall of fame prep coach (literally), he’s turned the Ferris State program around in just two years there and you know he’s tough because he agreed to coach in Big Rapids. He went 195-41 as a head coach for four different high schools in Michigan. He’s still relatively young, has never had a shot at an FBS school but has deep ties to Michigan for a recruiting base and overall support. 

Update:I wish I was kidding, but spell-checking coach Annese’s name one last time, I stumbled on this news report about a suspension over a recent locker room incident. Balls! You had the job, Tony! Way to go.

Kyle Nostrum
The assistant head coach at Central Michigan is a Michigan State graduate, and has coached a total of 16 years with MAC schools. He’s got plenty of experience in the conference and current CMU head coach Dan Enos isn’t going anywhere.

Lee Owens
The head coach of the Ashland University Eagles has FBS pedigree, getting his first head coaching shot at Akron from 1995-2003 before heading to Ashland and doing good things there. His team went 11-0 in the regular season last year and though his kids are 5-5 this year. I’ll blame it on injuries or bad breaks or some kind of hoodoo voodoo.


Stan Parrish
EMU interim head coach Stan Parrish has been coaching gridiron since before the forward pass was legalized. He started as a high school coach in 1969, coached at a few Big Ten stops, won a national championship as a QB coach at Michigan in 1997 and served as head coach at Ball State from 2008 to 2010, taking the head job following Brady Hoke’s departure. Parrish is probably quite capable of handling the duties of head Eagle, but the man was born 12 months after the end of World War II. Does he really want or need this kind of undertaking? If he took the job, he would become the sixth oldest head coach in the FBS.

Other maybes: Matt Mitchell (Grand Valley State), Jim Collins (Saginaw Valley State), Mark Staten (Michigan State).


Mike Hart
The tiny running back who coined the phrase “Little Brother” for U-M rivals Michigan State, is in his third year with the team and second as running backs coach but his storied collegiate career, sniff at the pro level and local ties would make him an interesting wildcard. Oh yeah Western Michigan, you hired the youngest coach in the land at 32 this year. We hired a 27 year-old. With two years of collegiate coaching experience. Your move, Broncos.

Mike DeBord
Former Michigan offensive line coach, offensive coordinator and brief head coach at Central Michigan, DeBord spent five of the last six years coaching in the NFL before getting the boot in Chicago along with head coach Lovie Smith. He’s tanned, rested and ready to jump back into the MAC!

Bill Sheridan
Defensive coordinator with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (for now), three-year Wolverine coach and father of Michigan quarterback Nick Sheridan, this is the perfect opportunity for Bill to take a head job and hire his son as the quarterbacks coach. Together they can rule to galaxy.


Lane Kiffin
Burnt in effigy at Tennessee, fired on the side of the road at USC, Lane Kiffin is a sad man with a lot of visors in team colors he can’t wear right now. It’s not unheard of for head coaches looking to resurrect their careers to hit the MAC for a little tune-up. Look no further than Terry Bowden at Akron or John L. Smith at Eastern Michigan. Wait, what?

John L. Smith
Not far removed from a tumultuous reign at Michigan State and a horrorshow interim head coaching job at Arkansas, John L. is cutting his teeth coaching Fort Lewis College this season. It’s in Durango, Colorado-don’t bother Googling it. John L. would be a terrible hire, but listening to his press conferences would bring me such joy.

Charlie Batch
Eastern Michigan football’s most famous modern day pro, he has zero coaching experience and isn’t from Michigan, but his name brings with it hope and the opportunity for middle-aged autograph seekers to semi-mob his introductory press conference then try to explain to their kids what the big deal is. He does TV on Pittsburgh Steelers broadcasts now, but no way they’re paying him Ron English money. Come back to Ypsi, Charlie!

Richard Retyi has never hired a head coach in his life and has a pretty terrible career record as a high school girl’s basketball coach. Though his JV tennis team won the Independent School League girls title in 2001, so he has that going for him.


  1. Of your list there, I think I like the idea of the Ferris State coach the best. I think Eastern needs someone with college head coaching experience. They have gone the big program coordinator route for so long. I believe Harkema was a head coach before he came to EMU (he was the last really successful coach at EMU). It's a tough job but I'm sure there are some 1AA or II coaches out there that are looking for a challenge. The biggest problem that I see is that EMU is going to have to pony up some cash for this coach and I'm not sure they are willing to.

  2. Ron Englsh's base salary this year was $349,937, which ranks 119th among FBS head coaches out of 119 teams with salary information, according to MLive.

    Ohio's Frank Solich, is the highest-paid MAC coach at $513,900, while Western Michigan's P.J. Fleck is 109th at $392,500, Kent State's Paul Haynes ranks 111th with a salary of $382,500, Northern Illinois' Rod Carey is 112th ($376,000), Central Michigan's Dan Enos is 116th ($360,600) and Buffalo's Jeff Quinn is 118th at $325,000. (all figures again courtesy of MLive).

    For a little bit of comparison, Michigan's OC Al Borges earned $550,000 in 2012 as the third highest paid member on staff.

    There are lots of additional clauses in each of the contracts (for instance, MLive reports that Fleck can earn an additional $236,000 per year) though I'm sure a lot of that is for bowl appearances and such, which Western isn't close to making.

    EMU AD Lyke has a base salary of $245,000 herself, but incentives tied to athletics, including championships and bowl appearances (there's an academic incentive as well, but that's no fun to talk about).

    In my wildly uneducated opinion, EMU's next head coach needs to have a solid recruiting base in the Michigan and Ohio, perhaps bring in a wildcard who can poach JUCO players who despite their best efforts have trouble getting on to bigger name programs for grades or talent or red flags, and someone who can energize Ypsi and bring some excitement and money into the program.

    If Annese didn't throttle those kids in the locker room (allegedly) then he'd be the PERFECT choice.

  3. All of of those are valid points. I'm just glad this isn't yet another "Eastern doesn't deserve 1A" thread...:)

  4. On paper, there's no real reason that a school like Northern Illinois or Toledo or Buffalo should be able to succeed in the MAC, while Eastern can't. Have you been to DeKalb? Yet those programs (and, frankly, a lot of MAC schools) have been able to field nationally competitive teams the last decade or so.

    Eastern can be great too, but it's been 20 years of sadness. They need to put one foot in front of the other and start to build something to last. Win a few more games, compete for a MAC title, knock off a ranked Northern Illinois team ... then maybe local recruits pay a little more attention. Ypsi is a fun town (bad press lately) and EMU has some really good academic programs.

    The future is potentially bright!

  5. On paper, EMU should have been able to compete this year. There is the definate double threat of running back with Brumfield and Hill and the other back (forget his name at the moment) is no slouch either. Benz seems decent when given time and Roback will grow into the position (and shows flashes of brilliance), the receiving corps is decent. Defense is iffy though but I'm not sure how much of that was players and how much was the Defensive Coordinator (or Head Coach). It seemed like they were 21-0 too early in too many of their games. So I don't know.

    Next year, they will have Roback, Hill and the other Running Back back. don't recall what the defence is like...but we'll see.