Eastern Michigan Eagles

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 13:  Head coach Mark Whipple of the University of Massachusetts Minutemen speaks to an official during a game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Vanderbilt Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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UMass faculty to push for dropping out of FBS

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It hasn’t been a good week for the lower rungs of FBS. Just a day ago Eastern Michigan warded off rumors the school would drop to Division II, and earlier today word broke Idaho will leave FBS for FCS. Now UMass will have to join the inauspicious group, as the university’s faculty senate will push to leave FBS or drop football altogether.

As with the Eagles and the Vandals, it’s not as if the naysayers don’t have a point. The Minutemen are just 8-40 since leaving the Colonial Athletic Association for the Mid-American Conference, and the MAC has since left them. UMass is now without a permanent home either in conference structure or in stadium, bouncing between an on-campus facility and the New England Patriots’ cavernous and distant Gillette Stadium.

In a regularly scheduled session, the faculty senate will on Thursday “urge Chancellor Subbaswamy, President Meehan, and the Board of Trustees of the University to end Division I football (Football Bowl Subdivision) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and either move to a different division or discontinue NCAA football altogether.” As noted by MassLive.com, this is just the latest in a three-and-a-half year effort to question the university’s alliance with big-time college football.

Will anything result of this latest push? Probably not, except a hastily written open letter to reaffirm UMass’s commitment to FBS.

But one thing is clear: as football gets more expensive, the political capital of losing games grows as well.

In open letter, Eastern Michigan says ‘we have absolutely no plans to eliminate football’

In this photo taken on Aug. 15, 2014, a pair Eastern Michigan players walks across he field after NCAA college football practice at Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti, Mich.. The school has replaced the stadium’s green artificial turf with gray FieldTurf. (AP Photo/Mike Householder)
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In the end, it appears it was much, much ado about absolutely nothing.  Probably.

In a report released late last week and news of which surfaced Monday, Eastern Michigan faculty and students called for the university to either drop football altogether or drop from its current FBS membership down to Div. II or even Div. III in the sport. “Culturally and geographically, EMU football will simply never succeed from an attendance and financial standpoint,” faculty member Howard Bunsis, who helped prepare the report, said in a presentation to the Board of Regents on Friday.

“It is a losing proposition – always has been, and always will be,” Bunsis continued. “We hardly raise any money for football, and our attendance is the lowest in the country. Some of you believe that we are close to succeeding, if we just throw more money at the situation. This proposition is insane.”

Fastforward to Tuesday, and the university has issued a very stern and straight-forward response to the calls.

In what’s titled an “Open Letter to the EMU Campus Community, Alumni, Friends and Supporters,” and attributed to interim EMU president Donald Loppnow, president-elect James Smith, board of regents chair Mike Morris as well as seven other regents, the school has stated unequivocally that “[w]e have absolutely no plans to eliminate football or move into any other division or conference.”

“Any headlines or claims that Eastern is considering dropping football, or reducing our support of the program in any way, are false,” the letter further, and emphatically, added.

Below is the full text of the letter:

In the past several days, there has been considerable media coverage of reports that indicate that Eastern Michigan University is considering eliminating football, or reducing support for football by dropping down to a lower division of the NCAA and by dropping out of the Mid-American Conference. These reports are not based on any solid factual information. We have absolutely no plans to eliminate football or move into any other division or conference.

We are pleased to be a member of an outstanding conference, the Mid-American Conference, where all of our sports and our talented student athletes have the opportunity to compete at the highest levels with neighboring institutions in the Midwest. Any headlines or claims that Eastern is considering dropping football, or reducing our support of the program in any way, are false.

We are 100 percent supportive of our current Athletics administration, particularly Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Heather Lyke. She has assembled an outstanding support team and we already have seen positive results in terms of continuing Eastern’s championship traditions in a number of our sports, as well as in many new initiatives to increase revenues. As an example, year-to-date, fundraising has increased by nearly $430,000.

Two-and-a-half years ago, she hired an outstanding football coach in Chris Creighton. Now entering his third year and with the majority of the team now made up of his recruits, we believe the best is ahead in terms of on the field and academic performance. We believe very strongly in Coach Creighton and his efforts to rebuild the program.

We want to collectively reiterate that any notion, suggestion, or headline that in any way suggests Eastern is considering eliminating football or moving into another conference or division, is absolutely false. We will remain proud members of the Mid-American Conference football family for a long, long time.

Faculty and students call for Eastern Michigan to drop Division 1 football

In this photo taken on Aug. 15, 2014, a pair Eastern Michigan players walks across he field after NCAA college football practice at Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti, Mich.. The school has replaced the stadium’s green artificial turf with gray FieldTurf. (AP Photo/Mike Householder)
AP Photo/Mike Householder
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Eastern Michigan has had just two non-losing seasons since 1990, with one being a 6-5 season for the only winning season since 1990. To put it simply, the Eastern Michigan football program has struggled for decades, and now faculty and students at Eastern Michigan are coming together to say enough is enough. In a new report released by the Eastern Michigan faculty and students, a call to drop Division 1 football is being heard loud and clear.

Eastern Michigan football has been a drain on the university’s budget and it has been costing students as much as $917 to support the program. No matter how many coaches have been fired and hired and how much the university has tried, the struggles continue to pave an uphill battle to not only win football games, but simply drive attendance upward and dig out of the red in the budget. Continuing to throw money at the program is insane, according to one quoted professor at Eastern Michigan.

“Culturally and geographically, EMU football will simply never succeed from an attendance and financial standpoint,” faculty member Howard Bunsis, who helped prepare the report, said in a presentation to the Board of Regents on Friday. “It is a losing proposition – always has been, and always will be. We hardly raise any money for football, and our attendance is the lowest in the country. Some of you believe that we are close to succeeding, if we just throw more money at the situation. This proposition is insane.”

The current state of the Eastern Michigan football program is a dose of reality for the current state of college football in general, where programs in the non-power conferences will continue to face some tough decisions that no school really wants to make. There is no suggestion the school is preparing to shut down the EMU program as we saw with UAB (briefly) or drop to a lower level of competition. The faculty and students are calling for a complete drop from Division 1, which would include FCS as well as FBS, but the possibility fo playing Division 2 (or Division 3) has not been contested. In fact, it is being suggested.

Eastern Michigan should drop Division I football, and join the Horizon League, where football is not required,” the report says. “Alternatively, EMU can still play football, but at the Division II or Division III (non-scholarship) level within the Horizon League, which would save even more resources. The advantage of joining the Horizon League is EMU athletes could still compete at the Division I level in Olympic and other non-revenue sports, but spend much less.”

It would be somewhat unprecedented for a program to drop down a level, and the reluctance to be the first program to do so would be a humbling experience. But the calls should be heard and the information in the report should be carefully reviewed by EMU leaders to determine what is the best for the university first and athletics second.

Helmet sticker to Detroit Free Press.

Ex-Syracuse DC Chuck Bullough lands at EMU

BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 03:  Head coach Chris Creighton of the Eastern Michigan Eagles watches from the sideline during the game against the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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After losing his most recent job in a regime change, Chuck Bullough has landed on his coaching feet a little further west.

Eastern Michigan confirmed in a press release that Bullough has been hired by Chris Creighton to serve as the head coach’s defensive line coach.  Bullough, who has coached every position group onb defense as well as the offensive line in career that stretches back nearly three decades, had spent the past three seasons as the defensive coordinator at Syracuse.

“Coach Bullough brings tremendous experience and pass for the game of football to our staff and program,” remarked Creighton in a statement. “He is going to make our defensive line better. He is very excited about being back in the great state of Michigan and will do an awesome job recruiting. Chuck is a great fit for who we are and what we are all about.”

Bullough has also spent time on college coaching staffs at UCLA (2006-10) and Michigan State (1997-98). The NFL was also his home for a decade and a half, including stints with theb Cleveland Browns (2011-12), Chicago Bears (1996-2003), Indianapolis Colts (1996), Miami Dolphins (1993-95) and Philadelphia Eagles (1992).

Ron English one of four added to San Jose State staff

DEKALB, IL - OCTOBER 26: Head coach Ron English of the Eastern Michigan Eagles leads his team onto the field before a game against the Northern Illinois Huskies at Brigham Field on October 26, 2013 in DeKalb, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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In a move that’s been more than two years in the making, Ron English is officially back in the coaching profession at the collegiate level.

In a press release that confirmed the reports that surfaced late last month, San Jose State announced that English was one of four additions made to Ron Caragher‘s Spartans coaching staff.  As expected, English will serve as Caragher’s defensive coordinator.

This marks English’s first job since controversy marked the end of his last.

Eastern Michigan announced Nov. 8, 2013, one day before its game with in-state rival Western Michigan, that English had been fired as its head football coach.  A day later, athlete director Heather Lyle alluded to a tape of English using “wholly inappropriate language” in a team meeting that had been brought to her attention and triggered the dismissal.

English subsequently apologized for losing his poise and using “homosexual slurs” in the meeting.  In his mea culpa, English added that he is looking “forward to continuing a career that has been marked by molding men of integrity, passion, and intensity for 21 years.”

Unfortunately for the coach, that continuation took a two-year hiatus as he was sidelined for both the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

English spent nearly five full seasons as EMU’s head coach (2009-13).  Prior to that, he was the defensive coordinator at Louisville (2008) and Michigan (2006-07).

“I’m excited about the new defensive staff members we added to our program,” the coach said in a statement. “Ron English has experience as a coordinator at the Division I level and as a head coach at Eastern Michigan. His experience and success in coaching will be a great addition.”

English becomes the replacement for Greg Robinson, who announced his retirement as SJSU’s coordinator this past December.  Like English, Robinson was also a former Michigan coordinator.

In addition to English, the hirings of Arnold Ale as linebackers coach, Will Harris as defensive backs coach and Barry Sacks as defensive line coach were announced as well. Ale is a former teammate of Caragher’s at UCLA, while Sacks spent the past two seasons at New Mexico.