Coach Chris Creighton has taken Eastern Michigan from 3-21 his first two seasons to 25-26 and three bowls the last four years.
How far can he go with the program now? ... If you've got a prediction – after losing your quarterback, top receiver and leading two rushing yards producers – what do you see for 2020? ... And were you surprised Creighton's name came up as a possibility for Michigan State's coaching job?
With spring practice starting March 10, these EMU followers chimed in:
► Al Willman, Paducah, Ky.: "He’s twice coached his team into contention against an SEC team from the bluegrass and, save for a late meltdown (that wasn’t his fault – quarterback Michael Glass was ejected for punching a player in the Quick Lane Bowl in December), he was in the hunt against Pitt, too. He’ll win a bowl game. ... I still like some of the pieces left in the system. The defense will be the calling card in 2020. They’ll go 5-7 this year, but get 6 or 7 wins in 2021."
► Zach Sturgill, Ypsilanti: "Creighton has a stellar recruiting class. ... They have the most three-star players they’ve ever had with about 15. These next three years will be an improvement from barely getting into bowl games. ... They have speed coming from freshmen and sophomores to replace the losses in the running game. (Freshman wide receiver) Xavier Smith of River Rouge is one name to look for."
► Brian Calloway, Lansing: "I'm not exactly sure what the ceiling for this program is, but Creighton has done well in a very difficult setting and a place where many coaches before him haven't won. The next step I'd like to see as an alum is to get the program winning a MAC title or being in the hunt. The Big Ten wins have been nice. The next step is to do something in the league. ... The way this program has performed under Creighton's direction, I would expect a similar type season as we've been accustomed to seeing. He's definitely pointed them in the right direction where being around .500 is now realistic, which is much different than it was a decade ago."
► Joe Novak, Livonia: "Chris Creighton has been great, but I think he has about hit the ceiling at EMU. ... The MAC is tough. There may not be much further he can go from here in Ypsilanti. ... The Eagles will likely have a down year after losing most of their offensive production. I see them going 4-8 (3-5 MAC)."
► Frank Dimich, Waterford: "The Eagles could have winning seasons in the near future as offensive skill-position recruits develop, but will Creighton be around to see it through? ... I think EMU will go 5-7, just missing a bowl. The loss of veteran offensive playmakers will be a struggle at first, and then the Eagles should see some progress later in the season with a few victories in the MAC."
Meanwhile, no one was surprised Creighton's name surfaced when MSU had its coaching opening that went to Mel Tucker in February.
"He turned EMU football from a laughingstock to a competitor to a contender," Willman said of Creighton. "He’s not done yet. And he’s done it the right way, each step. ... I said it when he was hired, and I’ll say it again now: He’s the real deal."
► This coming season will be the first since 2017 that all opponents are FBS teams.
► The homecoming game is Oct. 3 against Central Michigan.
► The Eagles are 10-4 in November the last four years. The four Novembers before that, EMU had seven wins total from 2012-15.
► Starting next season, the Eagles will play Massachusetts four years in a row.
What's up with Wylie?
The two-year contract of former Eagle and Chiefs left guard Andrew Wylie is up. He told the Midland Daily News he is an exclusive rights free agent, which means if the Chiefs offer him a new one-year deal, he can't negotiate with anyone else. "It looks like I'll still be under contract with the Chiefs for this coming year," Wylie said to the paper. He likely won't get his Super Bowl ring until May or June.
Wylie made $525,000 in each of his first two seasons with the Chiefs.
Ex-Eagle roll call
Receiver Sergio Bailey was waived by the Seattle Dragons of the XFL on Feb. 25 after signing with them Jan. 24. Defensive lineman Pat O'Connor is with Tampa Bay, and running back Darius Jackson is on the reserve/future roster with Indianapolis.
Quarterback Brogan Roback was picked by the St. Louis BattleHawks in the XFL Draft on Oct. 15-16 and was waived Jan. 27. On Feb. 11, he signed with the Dallas Renegades and was waived Feb. 19. Dallas re-signed him Feb. 24. Offensive lineman Cole Gardner was waived by the Buccaneers on Oct. 12, 2018.
What: Eastern Michigan's Green-White game to end spring practice.
When: 3 p.m. on April 11.
Where: Rynearson Stadium, Ypsilanti.
Art Brooks is a freelance writer.