Oops, he did it again!
EMU head football coach Ron English seems to have contracted a case of foot-in-mouth disease, or so some folks would have you think. First there were his preseason comments about wanting “players with a man in their lives”, which were taken out of context by Freep columnist Mick McCabe to mean that English didn’t want players from single-parent households.
Now, many are taking a comment he made in his postgame press conference following last Saturday’s loss to Ohio State to mean that he’s already looking to move on from EMU. The short, out of context quote is:
I’m sure there’ll be a day when I’m giving mine again, whether it be here or somewhere else. But I promise you, I’ll be back giving my butt-whuppins out, too.
Sure sounds like English is thinking about leaving Ypsilanti. But, as we did before, let’s take a look at the quote in context, and think about what he might be saying and why. English was asked how he felt about Ohio State’s late scoring, and whether he though Tressel was trying to run up the score, possibly to influence poll voters and keep the Buckeyes in the BCS championship picture.
I felt like Jim [Tressel] felt that we were still throwing it so he was going to keep scoring. That’s probably what happened out there. I have to weigh developing our receivers, our quarterbacks and our protection. I always try to do that.
Let me tell you something: In this profession…my thing is this, you’ve got to stop them. You’ve got to stop them. So I’ll never whine about that. Yeah, he kept throwing. He throws the throwback to the quarterback and all that stuff, but we were trying to score, too. I’m never going to whine about that.
Every dog has his day. I’ve had my days. I’m taking mine right now. I’m sure there’ll be a day when I’m giving mine again, whether it be here or somewhere else. But I promise you, I’ll be back giving my butt-whuppins out, too. It goes around.
I’ll be doing this a long time. I’m 42 years old. I’ll be in this profession for 20 more years, so I’ll have my day. I don’t say that in disrespect. Let me say it again because I respect Jim Tressel. I don’t say that I’m pissed off at Jim Tressel. I don’t stay that that way. I just know that. Nebraska beats us [when English was at Arizona State, 77-28, in 1995] we shut them out [19-0] the next year to end their [26-game winning] streak. That’s the nature of the beast. The strong survive in this profession. That’s just the way it is.
I’ve already remarked on English’s comment that “you’ve got to stop them…I’m never going to whine about that”, which is a sentiment I agree with. We’ve already pointed out the comment — immediately following — that’s now attracting attention, so let’s skip it for a moment and go to the final part of the statement.
First, he said “I’ll be doing this a long time. I’m 42 years old. I’ll be in this profession for 20 more years”. Well, duh. No one should be surprised when a 42-year-old says he expects to work into his 60s. Then he observed that a blow-out win one way can be followed by a big upset going the other way.
So when English said “whether it be here or somewhere else”, what did he mean?
I think it’s fairly obvious when you consider what he said before and after. English expects to be in coaching (as a head coach, he hopes) for the next 20 years. Consider that only two head football coaches have stayed at EMU longer than 10 years: Fred Trosko (1952-64) and Elton Rynearson (1917, 1919–1920, 1925–1948). Look around the MAC today. The current coach with the longest tenure is Doug Martin, in his seventh year at Kent State; he’s followed by Frank Solich at Ohio and Bill Cubit at Western Michigan, both each in his sixth year. And before you suggest that it’s just because the MAC is low on the food chain, and successful coaches get poached by bigger programs, look at the SEC. Mark Richt, in his 10th year at Georgia, is the senior coach. Les Miles, Steve Spurrier, and Urban Meyer, each in his sixth year in his current position, are next, and three coaches — 25% of the conference — are in their first year. In fact, looking at all FBS teams, only two coaches, Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech and Joe Paterno at Penn State, have been in their current position more than 20 years. There are a handful more 20+ year coaches in FCS and lower levels, but that 1.7% rate is about it.
So when Ron English said that he hoped to be in coaching for the next twenty years, and then suggested that — at some point in that time — he might be coaching “somewhere else”, it isn’t a hint that he’s ready to leave Ypsilanti, and it’s not a clue that the administration is nearly done with him at EMU.
It’s a statement of what should be obvious. Nothing less, but nothing more.