Bell, Creighton push for culture change at Eastern Michigan

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Detroit — After a frustrating 2-10 record last season, Eastern Michigan coach Chris Creighton is hoping for a happy return as he prepares for his second season.

Eastern Michigan won its opener over Morgan State, but didn’t win again until Week 6 against Buffalo. Creighton is hoping the difficult season didn’t take its toll as the players learned valuable lessons that could pay dividends this year.

“There are some things I knew to expect whenever you go to a new place and a new program and a new city that you have to experience understand it,” Creighton said Wednesday at the Mid-American Conference media day at Ford Field. “I have had an absolute blast the last year and a half.

“Saturday afternoons last fall were frustrating, but part of that is good because during the week, we always built up to a point where we believed we were going to go out there and play well and compete.”

The losses piled up, but sophomore quarterback Reginald Bell Jr., who started eight games, got valuable experience and is in position to build off his performance. He was one of seven quarterbacks in the nation to lead his team in passing and rushing.

Though success may not mean wins, Bell is looking to embrace the process of building a winning culture at Eastern Michigan.

“I definitely see it as a process,” said Bell, who rushed for 202 yards and three touchdowns and added 144 passing yards and a touchdown against Buffalo. “I came from a winning program and nobody is that used to losing like that. When you go back to morale, that’s what makes us more hungry to get wins.”

Although Creighton can see growth, he understands it doesn’t always translate to wins on the scoreboard — a point that’s sometimes hard to get across to players and fans.

“There’s the one measuring stick that everybody cares about and everybody looks at on Saturday afternoons in the fall,” he said. “We care about that as well, but in order for that one to change, so many other things have to change, and we feel as though we’ve taken significant strides in those areas.”