Here's what Eastern Michigan backers are saying about coach Chris Creighton and his football program:
Joseph Hayes, Port Huron:
"He has done a great job in building a new culture at EMU where the school is starting to be considered a viable option by more prospects. I believe Eastern is finally on the right track with Creighton.
"The question that remains is: Exactly how high can he take the program? Eastern can be saved. It starts and ends with winning and building a culture of fun and enthusiasm surrounding the program. Eastern should focus on recruiting talent from Detroit and defeating local rivals CMU and WMU.
"He has exceeded my expectations in many ways. Now the program needs to take the next step and become a consistent winner. If the team wins consistently, the games will be near capacity with a lively atmosphere. Eastern should invest in creating an atmosphere and buzz on weekends."
Joe Novak, Livonia:
"When the history of EMU football is written, Chris Creighton's sole accomplishment will be that he had one not completely terrible season and got to take his players on a vacation to the Bahamas. In his best season he was one game above .500 overall and 4-4 in the MAC.
"Even with his 'good' year, his overall record (15-34) is still awful, and in that way, he's accomplished no more than any of his recent predecessors in Ypsilanti. I'm not sure that this is Creighton's fault any more than it was a problem with Ron English, Jeff Genyk, Rick Rasnick or anyone else who has held that clipboard in the last 40 years.
"EMU football seems to be irreparably broken, and the only ones willing to admit it are the alumni who show up to the homecoming tailgate each year but opt to go to the bar at kickoff time instead of heading into Rynearson Stadium.
"We've seen this movie before, and we know that it always ends the same way, with us looking him up on Wikipedia because nobody can remember whether he was the ninth or tenth head coach in a row with a losing record (he's the 10th, by the way). Until EMU finds a head coach to break that streak, nobody is going to care about football."
Al Willman, Paducah, Ky.:
"Creighton did in two years what Ron English and his predecessors couldn’t do in 30 — he created a winning culture. The win/loss column might not entirely match that yet, but it’s coming. The bowl appearance two years ago wasn’t a fluke. I do (believe in him on building a winning program).
"The athletic department and regents need to match their verbal commitment with some cold, hard dollars (to save Eastern football). Yes and no (on Creighton fulfilling expectations). Yes, in regards to the culture change. Not yet in regards to consistent winning. I honestly don’t know (if EMU will ever care about football)."
Carrie Kennedy, Ann Arbor:
"I think EMU will always care about football but never at the same level as UM – why should (it)? ... I think Creighton can build a good program, but I'm not sure of his support staff and how much (it affects) his ability to coach (i.e., make sure his players don't make stupid mistakes all the time).
"The homecoming game I went to last year was one of the best attended, and from the one segment I listened to on the radio, Creighton seems genuinely excited to be coaching at Eastern. So I'm rooting for him. That being said, even if he builds a championship-caliber team, I'm still not going to attend every game. But if the (Eagles) were on TV, I would watch them!"
Brian Calloway, East Lansing:
"(Creighton) got EMU to a bowl game, which I’d say is a pretty big deal considering what he’s stacked against. Last year was a little disappointing with so many close losses and a little step back, but he’s made them competitive. He deserves that belief for now (about building a good program) because he’s done more than most coaches that have walked through those doors. I think this upcoming season will be a good gauge and how some talent that they lost on offense is replaced.
"You have to say he has exceeded expectations by getting EMU to a bowl game and having the best two-year stretch of wins in a while. He’s done more than the typical coach that EMU has cycled through over the years, and I don’t think expectations are high for anyone that takes the job.
"(Eastern probably won't on a larger scale) ever care about football because of the so many things working against it – being in the shadows of Michigan and also being a commuter school and having a good share of non-traditional students. EMU has disadvantages that its in-state counterparts Central and Western don’t have."
Frank Dimich, Lake Fenton:
"I think Creighton has accomplished more than other recent Eastern coaches. Getting to a bowl game, although seemingly not difficult when the bar is seemingly so low in NCAA Division I, is still a noteworthy accomplishment for EMU. I think, for the most part, he at least has the program pointed in the right direction.
"Now, I think the problems go beyond him. There are just too many disadvantages for him to be successful for a sustained period. The EMU program does not have the resources or student demographics to sustain being in the FBS, and I have felt that way for many years. (It has) to resort to using silly gimmicks like a concrete-colored field and 'The Factory' to get fans in the stands. ... Why spend the money when no fans will come? They are tarping seats. The stadium actually needs to be reduced in size.
"Eastern would be better off at the FCS level where (it) could compete and Creighton could make a difference without so many inherent disadvantages. Other schools that have been decent-to-strong mid-major basketball programs do not have football (see Oakland and Detroit Mercy locally). Eastern has a population of mostly commuter students that's more like Oakland and less like Western and Central."