Monday, August 09, 2010

Ron English Puts Foot in Mouth

Eastern Michigan went 0-12 last year. That's not very good.

Worse yet, Phil Steele's College Football Preview notes that EMU drew a whopping 5,016 fans per game, likely placing them behind many Division II schools in attendance.

As you can tell, second-year head coach Ron English has a lot of work to do.

Most of that involves recruiting, as English tries to quickly overhaul a program that hasn't had a winning season since 1995, hasn't been to a bowl game since 1987, and hasn't won more than four games in a season since that magical 6-5 record 15 years ago.

Getting off to a poor start in that recruiting effort is unacceptable, which is why English's decision to insert his foot inside his oratory tool just doesn't make a lot of sense.

"We wanted to recruit football players that love football," he said at Mid-American Conference media day at Ford Field on Friday. "I felt like we had a lot of guys who really didn't love football."

All right. That's cool. Nothing wrong with this.

Stop talking, Ron.

Once English found his guys, he said he looked for student-athletes with strong family backgrounds that would make them coachable.

"We wanted guys that had a father in their background," English said. "A guy that's raised by his mom all the time, and please don't take me wrong, but the reality is that you've got to teach that guy how to be taught by a man."


This is why I asked you to stop talking.

See, the idea here is to make your program attractive to potential recruits. It's bad enough that you're relying -- for the most part -- on kids already overlooked by the major programs in Michigan (you may have heard of Michigan, since you used to work there, Michigan State, or even Central Michigan and Western Michigan, both of which have lapped Eastern Michigan when it comes to recruiting).

In order to win the war, you have to keep your foot out of your mouth. Let a guy who coaches high school football in Detroit set you straight.

"That's insane," said Rod Oden, head coach at Detroit Crockett High School. "What he's asking for, we don't have. A lot of the kids are from broken homes. We kind of fill that void for a lot of these guys as far as being a father figure. It's disheartening to know that he said something like that."

The bottom line: English's stupid comments set his rebuilding effort back. It's perfectly fine to hope that players grow up with a defined father figure in their lives (or, better yet, an actual father, but that's neither here nor there). But you can't articulate it as if kids from broken homes have no place at Eastern Michigan.

It's an incredibly elitist thing to say when your football program is 41-119 over the last 14 years. Don't make me do the math to show you exactly how bad that is.


Anonymous said...

i dont understand the angst at coach english's comment.

children raised in a home with a father have great advantages over children who have not had that opportunity.

coach english has been tasked with developing players for eastern michigan. he will be investing considerable time, effort and money. i would prefer to take the kids that have the advantage of a father in the home. not because moms cant be great single parents but because on average you will get better young men if they have a father in their lives.

coach is right.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Coach probably should amend that to "father figure", and was probably too candid. But Coach English also has a point, and might be giving notice.

True, EMU may not have the luxury of cherry picking. And I am sure if there is a 4 or 5 star athlete who really wants to go to Eastern raised by his grandmother (especially with an influential uncle/coach/clergyman in his life), exceptions might be made.

I think he is saying that they don't want to be spending their time dealing with discipline and character issues.Bo always asked "what kind of family does the kid come from?". Maybe parents of kids looking at other MAC schools might take notice.