Eastern Michigan Eagles football

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Eastern Michigan Football
2016 Eastern Michigan Eagles football team
EMU Eagles logo.png
First season 1891
Athletic director Heather Lyke
Head coach Chris Creighton
3rd year, 10–26 (.278)
Stadium Rynearson Stadium
Seating capacity 30,200
Field surface FieldTurf
Location Ypsilanti, Michigan
NCAA division Division I FBS
Conference Mid-American Conference
Division West
Past conferences MIAA (1894–1926)
MCC (1927–1930)
IIAC (1950–1961)
PAC (1964–1965)
All-time record 430–529–47 (.451)
Bowl record 1–1 (.500)
Conference titles 10 (1896, 1925, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1954, 1955, 1957, 1987)[1]
Current uniform
MAC-Uniform-EMU.png
Fight song "Eagles Fight Song", "Go Green"
Mascot Swoop
Marching band Pride of the Peninsula
Rivals Central Michigan Chippewas
Western Michigan Broncos
Website Eastern Michigan Eagles Football

The Eastern Michigan Eagles are a college football program at Eastern Michigan University. They compete in Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and the Mid-American Conference. Past names include Michigan State Normal College Normalites (1899 to 1928), Michigan State Normal College Hurons (1929 to 1955), and Eastern Michigan Hurons (1956 to 1990).

Since 1891, Eastern Michigan University has compiled an all-time record of 428-519-47, fielding a team in each year except 1944. The team has achieved five undefeated seasons, in 1906, 1925, 1927, 1943 (holding opponents scoreless), and 1945 and eight winless seasons, in 1891, 1910, 1941, 1949, 1960, 1961, 1981 and 2009. The team has never ended a season ranked in any major poll, and is among the worst Division I FBS schools both in all-time win percentage (45.4%, for 107 out of 120) and in all-time scoring margin (-1898, for 108 out of 120). The team saw its greatest period of success from 1925 through 1939 under head coach Elton Rynearson, for whom their home field, Rynearson Stadium, is named. Among the lowest periods in the team's history was a 27-game losing streak in the early 1980s; under head coach Mike Stock the team was held scoreless seven times and posted an average margin of loss of 18 points per game.

History[edit]

Early History (1891–1951)[edit]

The 1916 Michigan State Normal College football team, in the 1917 yearbook.

Michigan State Normal School first fielded a football team in 1891.[2] Initially the team had no official nickname, being known variously as the "Normalites" or the "Men from Ypsi".

From 1892 to 1926, the team competed in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, winning conference championships in 1896 and 1925. (Although the MIAA did not recognize football as an official sport until 1894, MIAA teams competed against each other as early as 1891.)[3]

The 1916 season was cut short after four games when Coach Elmer Mitchell and four players contracted smallpox; the last game was played October 28 against the University of Detroit.[4]

In the late 1920s, Coach Elton Rynearson led the team to what remain their most successful seasons, with perfect seasons in 1925 and 1927, and a record of 29-2 from 1925 through 1928.[5]

In 1929, the Michigan State Normal College Men's Union sponsored a contest to determine a nickname. A three-person committee chose "Hurons" from the contest entries; the runner-up name was "Pioneers". The name Hurons was submitted by Gretchen Borst and George Hanner, both MSNC students. It is likely that Hanner got the idea from the Huron Hotel in downtown Ypsilanti, where he was employed.[6]

From 1927 to 1930 Michigan State Normal College competed in the Michigan Collegiate Conference, where they won the championship every year. Rynearson coached the Hurons through 1948, and his 114 wins are more than double those of any other coach at the school.[7]

Fred Trosko era (1952-1964)[edit]

In July 1952, Fred Trosko was hired as head football coach at Michigan State Normal College.[8] Trosko had been a star college running back at Michigan under head coach Fritz Crisler.

The team improved markedly during Trosko's early years as head coach. In his first seven seasons, the team attained a record of 41–19–2, including a 7–1–1 record in 1953 and an 8–1–0 record in 1954.[2] His teams won Interstate Intercollegiate Athletic Conference ("IIAC") championships in 1954 and 1957.[9]

The team's success came to an abrupt end in 1959. Trosko's teams had a 29-game winless streak (0–27–2) starting with the third game of the 1959 season and continuing through the fifth game of the 1962 season.[2][9] The precipitous decline followed the decision of the Eastern Michigan administration not to follow an IIAC policy that allowed member schools to award scholarships. Competing with non-scholarship athletes against conference schools with scholarship athletes, Trosko's Eastern Michigan teams were unable to compete.[9] In August 1965, Trosko announced his resignation as the school's head football coach, and it was reported that the resignation was the result of "an apparent break with school administrators over policy."[10]

Trosko had the second longest tenure of any head coach at the school.[9] He also taught at Eastern Michigan and remained on the faculty at Eastern Michigan after retiring as football coach.[10] He ultimately retired in 1981 as a professor emeritus.[9] In 1982, he was inducted into the Eastern Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.[11]

Jerry Raymond era (1965-1966)[edit]

Jerry Raymond was the head football coach of the Hurons for the 1965 and 1966 seasons,[12] and his coaching record at the school was 8 wins, 7 losses and 2 ties. As of the conclusion of the 2010 season, this ranks him #12 at Eastern Michigan in total wins and #13 at the school in winning percentage (.529).[13]

Dan Boisture era (1967-1973)[edit]

Coach Boisture

In July 1967, Dan Boisture was hired as head coach at Eastern Michigan University.[14] He later commented that he was willing to go to a smaller school, saying, "There weren't many jobs open...Joan and I looked at the campus. It was a cute campus."[15] Under his leadership, the team produced the longest period of sustained success since Elton Rynearson's days. The team posted winning seasons in all seven years of Boisture's coaching, including a 13-game winning streak that remains a school record.[16] His 1971 squad finished the regular season 7-0-2, only allowing one touchdown in the last five games,[17] before losing to Louisiana Tech in the Pioneer Bowl, the first bowl trip in school history.[18] Boisture was named NCAA District Four "coach of the year" in 1971.[19]

Boisture's tenure at Eastern Michigan is also notable for the construction of Rynearson Stadium. Boisture's teams played their first two seasons at the old field, near the corner of Oakwood and Washtenaw, just west of McKenny Union.[20] In 1969, the new stadium, which was considered off-campus at the time, opened with a capacity of 15,500. Boisture's bowl-bound 1971 team played for one of the few sellout crowds in the stadium's history, a 0-0 tie against Eastern Kentucky on October 16, 1971 which drew 17,360 spectators.[21]

In February 1974, Boisture left Eastern Michigan to coach the Detroit Wheels, in the Central Division of the World Football League,[22][23]

In 1972, Eastern Michigan joined the Mid-American Conference, in which they still compete.

George Mans era (1974-1975)[edit]

In February 1974, Michigan assistant coach George Mans was hired as the head football coach of the Eagles,[24] where he remained for the 1974 and 1975 seasons. In his first season as head coach, Mans' team started the season with only one win in the first six games, but the team finished strong, going 3–1–1 in the final five games.[25] In May 1976, Mans announced his resignation as Eastern Michigan's coach in what the Associated Press described as a "surprise move."[26] According to one newspaper report, Mans resigned "when it became apparent that EMU would place a greater emphasis on basketball, hiring former Detroit Pistons Coach Ray Scott."[27] Mans compiled an 8–12–1 record in two seasons as the head football coach at Eastern Michigan.[28]

Ed Chlebek era (1976-1977)[edit]

Coach Ed Chlebek came to Eastern Michigan from the University of Notre Dame, where he was an assistant under Dan Devine and coached future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana. Chlebek's Eagles compiled a 10–12 record from 1976 to 1977.[29] After an impressive 8-3 campaign in 1977, Chlebek left EMU to accept the position of head football coach at Boston College.[30]

Mike Stock era (1978-1982)[edit]

From the 1980 season through the 1982 season, under head coach Mike Stock, the Eagles lost a school-record 27 consecutive games, including a "perfectly bad season" in 1981.[31]

Jim Harkema era (1983-1992)[edit]

Coach Jim Harkema came to EMU from Grand Valley State and lead EMU to four consecutive winning seasons from 1986-1989,[32] including Eastern's only MAC championship in 1987, when the team went to the 1987 California Bowl and upset 17½ point favorite San Jose State for the only bowl game win in school history. The 1988 and 1989 teams each finished in second place in the conference. Harkema's teams struggled from 1990-1992, and Harkema was fired after an 0-4 start to the 1992 season after 2-9 and 3-7-1 campaigns in 1990 and 1991.[33]

Eastern Michigan University ended the use of the Huron logo in 1991.

In October 1988, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights issued a report suggesting that all schools using Native American logos or imagery should drop them. An EMU committee considered the change and recommended three possible replacement nicknames, Eagles, Green Hornets, and Express, from which the Board of Regents voted to accept the nickname "Eagles". The change became official on May 22, 1991. The controversy over the nickname continues to this day, as many former students and faculty were angered that a unique name like Hurons was replaced by a common name like Eagles, and many alumni have refused to donate money to the school until the name Hurons is restored. An official chapter of the EMU Alumni Association, the Huron Restoration Chapter, seeks to bring back the name and claims to have the support of Chief Leaford Bearskin of the Wyandot Tribe of Oklahoma and former Grand Chief Max Gros-Louis of the Huron-Wendat Nation of Quebec.[34]

Ron Cooper era (1993-1994)[edit]

Next, EMU turned to a young, up-and-coming assistant coach to right the ship. Ron Cooper was hired as EMU's head coach.[35] Cooper had been an assistant at Notre Dame and Minnesota under legendary head coach Lou Holtz.[36][37] Cooper had also been an assistant at East Carolina and UNLV.[38][39]

Cooper's Eagles compiled a 4-7 mark in 1993 and a 5-6 record in 1995.[40] Cooper left EMU after two seasons to accept the position of head football coach at Louisville.[41]

Rick Rasnick era (1995-1999)[edit]

On January 3, 1995, Utah offensive coordinator Rick Rasnick was interviewed by Eastern Michigan,[42] and the following day he was hired as head coach[43] with a five-year contract.[44] Rasnick brought a more open, pass-oriented offense to Eastern Michigan than his predecessor, Ron Cooper (American football) had used. Rasnick's offense featured Charlie Batch as quarterback in 1995 and 1997 (Batch sat out 1996 with an injury).[45]

During his time at EMU, Rasnick's recruiting noticeably favored junior-college transfers rather than high school seniors.[46]

On November 16, 1999, three days after a 29-26 loss at Central Michigan,[47] Eastern Michigan Athletic Director Dave Diles held a press conference to announce that he had fired Rasnick as head coach.[48]

Jeff Woodruff era (2000-2003)[edit]

Jeff Woodruff was the head football coach at Eastern Michigan for four seasons, from 2000 until 2003.[49] Woodruff's first season, in which the team posted a 3–8 record turned out to be the best of his tenure.[50] Following a 38–10 loss to Central Michigan on November 1, 2003, athletic director Dave Diles, Jr. fired Woodruff, saying, "Jeff Woodruff has helped develop our program with quality young men, but the team is not on the competitive level that we felt should be after four years."[51]

Jeff Genyk era (2004-2008)[edit]

In 2004, EMU hired Northwestern quarterbacks coach Jeff Genyk as head coach.[52]

In his first season, 2004, Genyk helped lead EMU to a 4-4 Mid-American Conference record, the best record since the 1999 squad went 4-4 in Mid-American Conference play, and a 4-7 overall record.[53] In addition, Genyk directed the Eagles to the Michigan MAC championship with wins over both in-state league rivals, Western Michigan and Central Michigan, for the first time since the 1986 season.

The 2005 season, Jeff Genyk's second as head coach, saw limited improvement as the Eagles finished with a 4-7 overall record (the same as 2004) and a 3-5 MAC mark. However, that final record could just as easily have been 6-5, 7-4, or even 8-3, as the Eagles dropped two one-point games (Miami University, Ball State), one two-point game (at Cincinnati), and one eight-point game (Western Michigan).[54]

In 2006, EMU had just one win, the homecoming game against Toledo. Once again, the total could have been a lot higher, with six losses coming only by one possession. They lost two games by 8 (at Northwestern, at Kent State), one game in overtime by 7 (Central Michigan), one game by 6 (Ohio), and two games by 3 (at Bowling Green, at Western Michigan).[55]

After tallying a 3–9 record during the 2008 campaign and going 16–42 overall during his five years at the helm, Genyk was fired.[56] He coached the season's final game against Central Michigan, a 56–52 upset.

Ron English era (2009-2013)[edit]

Coach English

Louisville defensive coordinator Ron English was hired as the next Eagles head coach after Genyk's firing.[57] English had also served as defensive coordinator at Michigan under head coach Lloyd Carr.

Eastern Michigan compiled a 0–12 record in 2009.[58] An article on ESPN.com ranked the Eagles the second-worst team in NCAA FBS football.[59]

The Eagles posted a 2–10 record in 2010,[60] English's second season as head coach, losing all four non-conference games and stretching their losing streak to 18 games before winning an overtime game at Ball State and another game at Buffalo in the latter part of the season.

2011 saw the Eagles achieve their best season in 17 years. They finished the season 6–6, 4–4 in MAC play to finish in a tie for fourth place in the West Division.[61] Despite being 6–6, the Eagles were not bowl eligible because two of their wins came against FCS teams. The 6 wins were the most wins the school had since 1995 when they also had 6 wins.[62] Following the season, English was named the Mid American Conference Coach of the Year.[63]

Following the success of the 2011 season, media outlets speculated that English could be a candidate for head coaching openings at BCS schools. Based on his west coast recruiting background and Big Ten coaching experience, the schools most often mentioned were Illinois,[64] Arizona State,[65][66] and Washington State.[67]

Eastern Michigan posted a 2–10 record in 2012, with their wins coming against Army (48–38) and Western Michigan (29–23).[68] EMU faced a difficult schedule, with 7 losses to teams that participated in a post season bowl game. Additionally, the Eagles lost to (FCS) #14 ranked Illinois State by a score of 31–14 in the second week of the season.[69]

English was abruptly fired on November 8, 2013—less than 24 hours before the Eagles' game against rival Western Michigan.[70] Later that day, The Detroit News revealed that English had been fired after school officials obtained a tape of a tirade English delivered to his team during an October team meeting. The speech was laden with expletives ("shitbird" was especially plentiful), and included at least one homophobic slur. On November 9, athletic director Heather Lyke confirmed the existence of the tape and condemned it as "wholly inappropriate" and "absolutely unacceptable."[71] English subsequently apologized, admitting that he had "lost my poise," but hoped to be able to coach again.[72] English left EMU with an 11-46 overall record.[73]

Chris Creighton era (2014-present)[edit]

On December 23, 2011, Drake head coach Chris Creighton was hired as English's replacement.[74]

In his first season with the Eagles, they finished 2–10 and dead last in the Mid-American Conference. In his second season, they finished 1–11, while finishing with no conference wins, the first time since 2009. In his third season, the Eagles finished the regular season 7–5 (a six game turnaround) while qualifying for the right to play in the Bahamas Bowl, the first bowl game for the program in 29 years.

Facilities[edit]

Rynearson Stadium in 2007.

Around mid-century, Eastern Michigan played its home games at a small field near the corner of Oakwood and Washtenaw, just west of McKenny Union.[20] In 1969, the university constructed Rynearson Stadium, named for former coach Elton Rynearson. With a 30,200 person seating capacity, Rynearson Stadium is among the smallest to host an FBS team, but despite that, the largest attendance at an EMU game at Rynearson was 25,009, on September 16, 1995 for a 51-6 win over UNLV. Rynearson is one of only two stadiums in the Mid-American Conference with a track around the football field. Lighting was added to the stadium in 1974, and the playing surface has been FieldTurf since 2005. The second and current FieldTurf surface, a gray surface, was installed in 2014. This made Rynearson Stadium only the second FBS venue with a non-traditional field color, after the famous blue surface of Albertsons Stadium at Boise State. Two EMU games at Rynearson have been sell-outs: a 24-31 loss to Western Michigan on October 22, 1988 drew 23,003 (listed capacity at the time was 22,227), and a 0-0 tie against Eastern Kentucky on October 16, 1971 drew 17,360 (listed capacity at the time was 15,500).[21]

In late 2009, Eastern Michigan University broke ground on an indoor practice facility, which was completed that academic year. In addition to being used for football practices, the air-supported structure is used by Eastern Michigan's soccer, baseball, softball, and golf programs. This is one of only three such air-supported facilities used by Football Bowl Subdivision programs. According to then-Athletic Director Derrick Gragg a traditionally constructed facility of the same size would have cost approximately five times more.[75]

Head coaches[edit]

Many of EMU's head coaches have had brief tenures with the program; 18 head coaches served for one season or less.[7] Among the more notable head coaches at EMU have been Clayton Teetzel (1900–1902), Henry Schulte (1906–1908), Elton Rynearson (1917, 1919–1920, 1925–1948), Fred Trosko (1952–1964), Dan Boisture (1967–1973), George Mans (1974–75), Mike Stock (1978–1982), Jim Harkema (1983–1992), Rick Rasnick (1995–1999), Jeff Woodruff (2000–2003), Jeff Genyk (2004–2008), and the current coach Ron English (2009–2013). Rynearson was the longest-serving and winningest coach, with a record of 114-58-15 over 26 seasons, while Vern Bennett (1894) posted the highest winning percentage, 71.4%. Tony Lombardi was the shortest-tenured coach, leading the team only for the final game of the 1999 season.

Clayton Teetzel[edit]

Main article: Clayton Teetzel
Clayton Teetzel in the 1897 Michigan football team photograph

After playing football for three years at the University of Michigan, including being on the undefeated 1898 Michigan Wolverines football team that won the university's first Western Conference championship, Clayton Teetzel travelled six miles east to Ypsilanti, where he became the first person to coach the Michigan State Normal College football team for more than one year. From 1900 through 1902, his teams compiled a 6-14-1 record.[7]

Henry Schulte[edit]

Main article: Henry Schulte
Henry Schulte in the 1903 Michigan football team photograph

Another Michigan man who led the Normalites was Henry Schulte, who played at the guard and center positions for Fielding H. Yost's famous "Point-a-Minute" teams of 1903, 1904, and 1905, which compiled a record of 33–1–1 over the three years Schulte was a starter. Schulte was often referred to by the nickname "Indian" Schulte,[76] though he was of German rather than Native American descent.[77]

In late 1905 and early 1906, charges of professionalism were leveled at the major college football programs, including Michigan, leading to calls for reform or even elimination of the sport from college campuses. In response to the controversy, the faculty at Michigan ruled Schulte and two other football players, Germany Schulz and Walter Rheinschild, academically ineligible. As a result, Schulte missed the 1906 season.[78] In his ineligible senior year at Michigan, Schulte began a long career in coaching as the track coach at Michigan State Normal College (now Eastern Michigan University).[76] From 1906 to 1908, Schulte served as coach of the football, baseball and track teams at Eastern Michigan University.[76][79] In three years as Eastern Michigan's football coach, Schulte compiled a 9–6–1 record.[79]

Schulte subsequently coached at Missouri and achieved great success as a track coach and assistant football coach at Nebraska. Schulte was credited with building great football lines for Nebraska, even in his years as an assistant coach; Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne frequently mentioned Schulte as "the greatest line coach in the game."[80]

Elton Rynearson[edit]

Main article: Elton Rynearson
Elton Rynearson in the 1916 MSNC football team photograph.

Following the smallpox-shortened 1916 season,[4] Elton Rynearson was hired to replace Elmer Mitchell. Although Rynearson's offense was more effective, outscoring opponents 111 to 82, more than half of the scoring came in a single game, a 63-0 rout of Central Michigan, and the team ended the season with a 3-4 record. After the shortened 3-game 1918 season was coached by Lynn Bell, Rynearson returned to coach the 1919 squad to their first winning season in four years.[81] After another winning season in 1920, other coaches assumed the duties for four years, during which the team managed a 9-15-4 record.[82]

Rynearson's return in 1925 sparked the most successful period in school history. From 1925 through 1930, the team achieved a 40-4-2 record, including perfect seasons in 1925 and 1927. From 1925 through 1927 they outscored opponents 405 points to 31 and registered 19 shutouts. They won the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Championship in 1925, and won the Michigan Collegiate Conference championships in 1927, 1928, 1929, and 1930.[5][83] Although less dominant, Rynearson's teams continued to have success throughout the 1930s, never having a losing season until the teams of 1940 and 1941 combined for a 2-10-3 record. The 1943 and 1945 teams (there was no team in 1944) were again successful, combining for a 7-0-1 record. However, following the end of World War II, Rynearson's teams again struggled, and he ended his coaching career on a streak of three losing seasons from 1946 through 1948.[84] His 26 seasons as head coach are double those of the next-longest serving coach, Fred Trosko, and no Eastern Michigan University football coach has reached even half of Rynearson's win total of 114 games.[7]

Fred Trosko[edit]

Main article: Fred Trosko

Following Rynearson's retirement in 1948, Harry Ockerman was the head coach for three undistinguished years, in which he compiled a 7-19-0 record, including a winless first season. For the 1952 season, Fred Trosko was hired as head coach, and over the next several seasons the team improved markedly, attaining a 7-1-1 record in 1953, an 8-1-0 record in 1954, and a 7-2-0 record in 1955. The team was not able to sustain the success, however, and for the remained of his thirteen seasons Trosko's teams struggled, finishing two consecutive seasons winless (1960 and 1961, both 0-8-1), and only managing two additional winning seasons, going 6-3-0 in 1957 and 4-3-0 in 1964, Trosko's final year. In thirteen seasons, the second longest tenure of any head coach at the school, Trosko had nearly as many losses as Rynearson had in twenty-six seasons.[85]

Dan Boisture[edit]

Main article: Dan Boisture

For two seasons after Trosko, Jerry Raymond coached the Hurons to a mediocre record, finishing 3-4-1 in 1965 and 5-3-1 in 1966. The following year Dan Boisture was hired as head coach, and under his leadership, the team produced the longest period of sustained success since Rynearson's days. The team posted winning seasons in all seven years of Trosko's coaching, including the 1971 squad that finished the regular season 7-0-2, before losing to Louisiana Tech in the Pioneer Bowl, the first bowl trip in school history.[86]

Boisture's tenure is also notable for the construction of Rynearson Stadium. Boisture's teams played their first two seasons at the old field, near the corner of Oakwood and Washtenaw, just west of McKenny Union.[20] In 1969, the new stadium, which was considered off-campus at the time, opened with a capacity of 15,500. Boisture's bowl-bound 1971 team played for one of just two sellout crowds in the stadium's history, a 0-0 tie against Eastern Kentucky on October 16, 1971 which drew 17,360 spectators.[21]

George Mans[edit]

Main article: George Mans

After playing at the right end position for the Michigan Wolverines football program from 1959 to 1961, Mans began his coaching career as the ends coach on Trosko's 1963 team at Eastern Michigan University.[87] After stints at Michigan Technological University[88] and the University of Michigan,[89][90] where he was one of two members of Bump Elliott's coaching staff to continue to serve under Bo Schembechler.[91]

In February 1974, Mans was hired to follow Boisture as the head football coach at Eastern Michigan University,[92] where he remained for the 1974 and 1975 seasons. In his first season as head coach, Mans' team started the season with only one win in the first six games, but the team finished strong, going 3–1–1 in the final five games.[93] In May 1976, Mans announced his resignation as Eastern Michigan's coach in what the Associated Press described as a "surprise move."[94] According to one newspaper report, Mans resigned "when it became apparent that EMU would place a greater emphasis on basketball, hiring former Detroit Pistons Coach Ray Scott."[95] Mans compiled an 8–12–1 record in two seasons as the head football coach at Eastern Michigan.[96]

Mike Stock[edit]

Mike Stock's tenure as head coach is primarily remembered for a school-record 27-game losing streak from 1980 through 1982, including a winless season in 1981. He was fired after the team lost the first three games of 1982, including a 49-12 pasting at Louisiana Tech and 35-0 shutout at Miami University, bringing the losing streak to 22 games; the team went on to lose five more consecutive games under interim coach Bob LaPointe before the streak was broken with a 9-7 win over Kent State on November 6, 1982.[31] Stock's teams were held scoreless seven times, his teams were outscored by a total of 809 points — nearly 18 points per game, and his final record of 6-38-1 gives him a 14.4% win percentage, easily the lowest of any coach to remain at Eastern more than one season.[7] Stock continued to coach football both at the collegiate level and the professional level, both in the United States Football League and the National Football League, until his retirement following the 2008 NFL season, but this was his only head coaching position.[97][98]

Jim Harkema[edit]

Main article: Jim Harkema

In 1982, following Mike Stock's firing, assistant coach Bob LaPointe was named the interim head coach for the remainder of the season while the school conducted a national search, and Jim Harkema, who had won three Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships at Grand Valley State, was hired to lead the team beginning in 1983. Beginning in 1986, Harkema led the team to four consecutive winning seasons,[99] including Eastern's only Mid-American Conference championship in 1987, when the team went to the 1987 California Bowl and upset 17½ point favorite San Jose State University for the only bowl game win in school history. Harkema is credited with building the program at Eastern Michigan into a "Top-Shelf" program,[100] and he coached one of just two EMU games at Rynearson Stadium that sold-out: a 24-31 loss to Western Michigan on October 22, 1988 drew 23,003 (listed capacity at the time was 22,227).[21] In the early 1990s, the football team struggled, and after losing the first four games of the 1992 season, Harkema resigned, and assistant coach Jan Quarless took over for the remainder of the season.[101]

Jeff Genyk[edit]

Main article: Jeff Genyk

In 2004, EMU hired Jeff Genyk as the head coach. Prior to accepting the EMU head coaching position, Genyk spent the previous 12 years at Northwestern working for the football program. He was the running backs coach, recruiting coordinator and one of the special teams coaches for five seasons (1999–2003). In 1998 he was the secondary coach, working with the safeties, and he was also one of the special teams' coaches. In 1997, Genyk was the linebackers coach, and one of the special teams coaches as well. In December 1996, prior to the Wildcats' appearance in the Comp USA Florida Citrus Bowl, Genyk was elevated to inside linebackers coach. Before the 1997 season, he made the switch to outside linebackers coach. During the 1994, 1995 and 1996 seasons, he was the director of football operations. He first joined the Northwestern staff as a graduate assistant coach for the 1992 and 1993 seasons.

During his tenure as the running backs coach, Genyk tutored tailback Damien Anderson to a school-record 2,063 yards in the 2000 season. He also saw another one of his running backs, Jason Wright, reach the 1,000-yard rushing mark in both 2002 and 2003 with 1,234 and 1,151 yards respectively. Anderson went on to earn All-American honors in 2000 while Wright was an Academic All-American in 2002.

Genyk was part of three Big Ten championship teams, and four postseason bowl games at Northwestern. The 1995, 1996 and 2000 teams all won Big Ten titles. The 1995 squad played in the Rose Bowl, the 1996 team was in the Comp USA Florida Citrus Bowl, the 2000 team played in the Alamo Bowl, and the 2003 squad played in the Motor City Bowl. The '95 and '96 squads (as well as the 2000 squad in perhaps one of the greatest games in college football history) defeated Michigan, which Northwestern had not done since 1965.[102]

Genyk is a native of Milan, Mich (born 8-22-60). where he was an all-state quarterback at Milan High School. He went on to Bowling Green State University and played quarterback for the Falcons from 1978 to 1981 before completing his bachelor's degree in 1982 in business administration. Genyk has two master's degrees, an MBA from Western Michigan University in 1989, and a master's in education from Northwestern in 1994.

Genyk joined the Northwestern football staff in 1992 after serving as an assistant coach at Grand Rapids (Mich.) Community College from December 1990 to the spring of 1992 where he tutored the quarterbacks and wide receivers. Prior to joining the coaching ranks, he worked in private business from 1982 to 1991.

In his first season, 2004, Genyk helped lead EMU to a 4-4 Mid-American Conference record, the best record since the 1999 squad went 4-4 in Mid-American Conference play, and a 4-7 overall record.[103] In addition, Genyk directed the Eagles to the Michigan MAC championship with wins over both in-state league rivals, Western Michigan and Central Michigan, for the first time since the 1986 season.

The 2005 season, Jeff Genyk's second as head coach, saw limited improvement as the Eagles finished with a 4-7 overall record (the same as 2004) and a 3-5 MAC mark. However, that final record could just as easily have been 6-5, 7-4, or even 8-3, as the Eagles dropped two one-point games (Miami University, Ball State), one two-point game (at Cincinnati), and one eight-point game (Western Michigan).[104]

In 2006, EMU had just one win, the homecoming game against Toledo. Once again, the total could have been a lot higher, with six losses coming only by one possession. They lost two games by 8 (at Northwestern, at Kent State), one game in overtime by 7 (Central Michigan), one game by 6 (Ohio), and two games by 3 (at Bowling Green, at Western Michigan).[55]

Ron English[edit]

Following the firing of Genyk, Ron English, former defensive coordinator at the University of Michigan and the University of Louisville, was named head coach of the Eastern Michigan football program. At the time of his hiring, English was one of five African American head coaches in major college football; the others were Kansas's Turner Gill, Miami's Randy Shannon, Houston's Kevin Sumlin, New Mexico's Mike Locksley;.[105] Mike Haywood became the sixth when Miami University (Ohio) hired him just days later.[106] Although his hiring brought a lot of excitement to the program, he failed to capitalize in his first season, leading the team to an 0-12 record, the first winless season for EMU since 1981. Despite English's background as a defensive coach, the team allowed an average of more than 38 points per game, losing 10 games by double-digit margins, 6 of them by more than 20 points.

English was abruptly fired with three games to go in the 2014 season. Less than 24 hours before the Eagles' game against Western Michigan, athletic director Heather Lyke obtained a tape of an obscenity-laced tirade English delivered to his secondary while reviewing film in October. The screed included at least one homophobic slur. Lyke said that English's language was "wholly inappropriate," and not acceptable in a student setting. English later apologized for what he described as a loss of poise.[107]

Conference championships[edit]

The Eagles have won 10 conference titles (1896, 1925, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1954, 1955, 1957, 1987).

Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association[edit]

1892 Michigan State Normal football team

Michigan State Normal College was admitted to the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1892. Although the conference did not recognize football as an official sport until 1894, teams within the conference competed with each other as early as 1891.[3] MSNC's first game against an MIAA opponent was a 30-10 victory over Albion College on November 2, 1892.[108] In 1896, MSNC won their MIAA games by a combined score of 70-0, earning them the conference championship.[108][109] Despite an undefeated season in 1906,[110] the conference championship was won by Olivet College, whose team played, and won, more conference games.[109] In 1925, with the return of Rynearson as coach, the team achieved another undefeated season and again took the MIAA championship,[109] before leaving the conference a year later.

Michigan Collegiate Conference[edit]

Michigan State Normal College dominated the brief history of the Michigan Collegiate Conference (which consisted of MSNC, Central Michigan University, and Western Michigan University), winning the conference championships in each of the four seasons (1927, 1928, 1929, and 1930) it lasted,[1] including an undefeated season in 1927. The team was never defeated in Michigan Collegiate Conference play. This marked what remains one of the most successful periods in the history of the team.

Interstate Intercollegiate Athletic Conference[edit]

In twelve seasons in the Interstate Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, Eastern Michigan won three championships: in 1954, in 1955, and in 1957.[1] All came under the leadership of head coach Fred Trosko.

Mid-American Conference[edit]

In 1987, Eastern won its only Mid-American Conference championship, marking the high point of four consecutive winning seasons, and the completion of a turnaround from the school's 27-game losing streak earlier in the decade.[1]

Bowl appearances[edit]

In 1971 (as a Division II school), Eastern Michigan, in their last season as an independent team, went 7-0-2 in the regular season, before losing 14-3 to Louisiana Tech in the 1971 Pioneer Bowl in Wichita Falls, Texas.[111]

In 1987, following the school's only MAC championship, and the first in any conference in 30 years, the team went on to upset 17½ point favorite San Jose State University in the 1987 California Bowl in Fresno, California, for the only bowl game win in school history.[112]

29 years later, the Eagles were invited to participate in the 2016 Bahamas Bowl after finishing the regular season 7-5, the most wins in one seasons since 1989, which also had 7 victories. [113]

Year Bowl Opponent Result
1987 California Bowl San Jose State W 30–27
2016 Bahamas Bowl Old Dominion TBD
Total 1 bowl games 1–0

Trophy games[edit]

Eastern Michigan participates in one trophy series, the Michigan MAC Trophy, against the Central Michigan Chippewas and Western Michigan Broncos. Since the Michigan MAC Trophy was created in 2005, Eastern Michigan has won it four times, sweeping the series in 2007,[114] and retaining it in 2008 when all three schools went 1-1 in the round robin series. After defeating both Central and Western in 2011, Eastern reclaimed the trophy, tying them with Central Michigan for the most Michigan MAC championships in the series. Again during the 2012 season, all three teams went 1-1 in the round robin series, and EMU again retained the trophy. EMU is currently tied with CMU, and WMU as the leader in the series with four Michigan MAC championships each.

Eagles in professional football[edit]

T. J. Lang, currently of the Green Bay Packers

Eastern Michigan has produced a total of 16 NFL draft selections.[115] The following "Active" and "All-Star" lists account for past and present Eastern Michigan University football players that have participated in the National Football League, the Canadian Football League, and the Arena Football League.

Active[edit]

As of September 2016, there are a total of 8 Eagles listed on team rosters in the NFL,[116] CFL,[117] and AFL.[118]

Pro Football Hall of Fame members[edit]

Former NFL players[edit]

Future non-conference opponents[edit]

Announced schedules as of August 12, 2015

2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
vs Mississippi Valley State vs Charlotte vs Monmouth at Coastal Carolina at Kentucky at Arizona State
at Missouri at Rutgers at Purdue vs Kentucky vs Coastal Carolina
at Charlotte at Kentucky at San Diego State at Illinois at Missouri
vs Wyoming at Army vs Army vs San Diego State at Army

[121]

References[edit]

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  3. ^ a b "America's Oldest Collegiate Conference". Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association. Retrieved 2010-04-19. In 1889, at the second annual MIAA Field Day, Albion and Olivet engaged in an exhibition "football match." In 1891 Albion defeated Hillsdale at Hillsdale 36-4 in the first intercollegiate football game in the MIAA, but it wasn't until 1894 that football was recognized as an official league sport. 
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External links[edit]