Tuesday Tidbits: Football-only morning
Not surprisingly, beating the in-state rivals and having the winningest season in 16 years garnered EMU football a whole bunch of coverage, so we’re splitting that out into its own Tuesday Tidbits.
Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel (“Smaller story, but I’m sure you’re following it“) puts the focus on Ron English:
Five years ago, Ron English first made a name for himself as the coordinator for a Michigan defense that started 11-0 and produced NFL standouts LaMarr Woodley, David Harris and Leon Hall. A year later, the Wolverines lost to Appalachian State and Lloyd Carr retired. English resurfaced at Louisville, then in 2009 took a head-coaching job that assured even more obscurity — especially after his first team went 0-12.
Two years later, however, English is soon to be back on a lot of prominent athletic directors’ radars. He has Eastern Michigan (5-3) off to its best start since 1995. On Saturday, Eastern beat Western Michigan, 14-10, which coupled with a win the week before over Central Michigan gave the Eagles the Michigan MAC Trophy (yes, this really exists).
EMU actually gets mentioned in Rivals.com’s Mike Huguenin’s weekly breakdown of conference races:
Finally, there’s Eastern Michigan, which already has won five games, the first time since 1995 the Eagles have won more than four games. EMU must get to seven wins to become bowl-eligible because it has two victories over FCS teams. EMU lost by 38 to Toledo and isn’t going to win the division, but the Eagles have a legit shot at their first bowl bid since 1987 – which also is their only bowl bid.
Also of note, Huguenin predicts 66 bowl-eligible conference teams. He doesn’t mention them, since it’s a column about conference races, but independents BYU and Notre Dame are also likely to be bowl-eligible. If that plays out, we’ll have the bowl-pocalypse scenario eagerly hoped for by many fans, with 68 eligible teams (including EMU!) for 70 spots. We’ll be watching the bowl-pocalypse closely, since it may have a direct bearing on whether and where EMU goes — assuming they get at least two more wins.
As a corresponding downer, Black Shoe Diaries comments on an observer tendency to undervalue defense. If EMU is barely bowl-eligible and we do not have a bowl-pocalypse scenario, this is likely to work against the Eagles.
AnnArbor.com says that “After two official reviews, it’s conclusive. This Eastern Michigan football team is for real.” To which Hustle Belt’s Matt Sussman writes that “Eastern Michigan Isn’t “For Real” Yet, But They’re Getting There“:
A 5-3 record is a godsend for this struggling program. Five wins is more than their last three seasons combined. It’s their highest win total since 1995, when they went 6-5. They’re even getting projected to go to a bowl. Their last bowl was 1987, which was also their last (and only) MAC Championship…This is ridiculous. Seven wins for Eastern Michigan. Ron English wins coach of the freaking universe if that happens. EMU winning seasons only occur in video game dynasties. But with this bizarre easy schedule, it’s also very possible.
The Kalamazoo Gazette noticed that “Eastern Michigan football suddenly matters in MAC’s West Division“. Meanwhile, KUsports’s Tom Keegan reminds us of where EMU’s been.
The Kansas University football team’s defense, on the wrong end of domination weekly, is on pace to break every Football Bowl Subdivision scoring record for futility. The Jayhawks have allowed an average of 50.4 points per game and are on pace to surrender 605 points. The 2010 East Carolina Pirates hold the mark for most points allowed (572), and it took them 13 games. The 2002 Eastern Michigan Eagles hold the record (566 points) for 12 games. Even though Kansas opponents have scored 24 more points through seven games than Eastern Michigan had allowed at that point, the smart money says KU won’t break the records.
EMU made honorable mention on Dr. Saturday’s Mid-Major Top 10, though he got the team’s record wrong.
With 13 carries for 61 yards and a touchdown and one reception for 50 yards and another touchdown, Javonti Greene was named the MAC West Division Offensive Player of the Week.
Relive the glory of Saturday with Michigan Exposures’ photos:
Finally, this has nothing to do with anything EMU, but it made me laugh, and it will you too. Plus, it feels good that people are laughing at a midwestern team from somewhere other than Ypsilanti.