If you follow EMU football, no one has to tell you that it has been an exercise in frustration. No bowl appearance since the late 80’s. No MAC title since then, either. Sub .500 football has been the norm. Which is why last year was such a breath of fresh air. Not only did we tally six wins, but we played a pretty competitive brand of football. Personally, I love a run first, smash mouth style of play, and I never thought it could succeed at Eastern.
Not that 6-6 is success. It certainly is a step in the right direction, but this year we want more. I know the schedule is a little more difficult. I don’t care. We have an experienced group of players and coaches. The time to pull out an extra victory or two is now. Anything short of 7-5 will be a significant disappointment.
I’ve followed EMU football since I first stepped on campus in 1993. Nothing can be taken for granted. There is a part of me that expects this team to finish 4-8. One .500 season can’t eliminate that nagging feeling that we could stumble back to our old, losing ways. Fortunately, my pessimistic musings are irrelevant to this team’s success.
Success lies on the shoulders of Ron English and his coaching staff. Alex Gillett and the offensive line. Javonti Greene and Dominique Sherrer. Justin Cudworth, Marlon Pollard and the defense. They are accountable for their own legacy. And while a pessimistic feeling may be in the back of my mind, there is a part of me that believes that this football team is up to the challenge.
Since I’ve established the floor as 4-8, what is the ceiling? A MAC title? I do believe that if things fall into place for us, 9-3 and a trip to Ford Field could happen. The consequences for the two scenarios are vastly different. If we go 4-8, Ron English’s leadership will begin to be seriously questioned. 9-3 pretty much means Coach English will be off to a BCS program next year. I don’t make these crazy rules, they are a reality of college football…
My prediction, however, is that we end up 6-6 again. I hope I’m wrong.
Interestingly enough, our opener at Ball State this Thursday will go a long way towards determining our overall success. We cannot open the season with a MAC West loss. I can’t remember an opening game that has had this much at stake for our football program. Last year’s Ball State game tanked our bowl hopes. We need to pay them back in full.
Best of all, the time for talk and predictions are over. Football begins in less than a week. That alone is a cause for celebration. Let the season begin.