Eastern Michigan extends football coach Chris Creighton's contract through 2025

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Rescue dogs can’t wait to find their forever home.

Eastern Michigan now has its forever football coach — or pretty darn close to it.

Eastern Michigan and Chris Creighton, who’s brought unthinkable stability to a program that long was one of the worst in the nation, have reached a deal on a contract extension that runs through 2025, the school announced Thursday.

Chris Creighton is entering his eighth season as Eastern Michigan's head football coach.

He’s the only coach to lead EMU to multiple bowl appearances; he’s made three.

"Coach Creighton has helped change the culture and the direction of our football program during his tenure at Eastern Michigan," athletic director Scott Wetherbee said in a statement. "We are excited about continuing to build upon a foundation that has seen our teams compete in three postseason bowl games, upset a trio of Power Five opponents, and reach unprecedented new heights in the classroom.

“Winning a Mid-American Conference championship and future bowl games continues to drive our football program and athletic department.

“We believe coach Creighton is the best leader to accomplish those goals and continue to make our alumni, university and community proud."

Creighton took over the program in 2013, coming from Drake.

He’s the second-longest-tenured coach in the MAC, eight days shy of Miami (Ohio)’s Chuck Martin.

"I am very fortunate to get to lead the football program here at EMU," Creighton said in a statement. 

“We are very proud of the progress we have made and believe deeply that we will realize the vision of making this program a source of pride for our department, the university, Ypsilanti and this region."

Before Creighton arrived, Eastern Michigan's football program cycled through nine different coaches (interim including) from 1992-2013. When he arrived, the school couldn't fill a section of the stadium; now, there's occasionally game-day traffic in Ypsilanti. Things were so bad when he arrived, that then-athletic director Heather Lyke canceled a contract with Michigan State in part, she once told The Detroit News, because she was worried about injuries. That's how extreme the talent gap was. Now, the Eagles play just about any Power Five they can; they'll play Wisconsin this year.

Creighton's overall record at Eastern Michigan is 30-51, but it's 27-30 since the start of the 2016 season. In 2016, he took the team to the Bahamas Bowl, the program's first bowl appearance since the 1987 California Bowl, after the Eagles were 1-11 the year before. Creighton's Eagles made the Camellia Bowl in 2018 and Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit in 2019. The next step will be winning a bowl game, though Creighton has had some notable wins in the regular season, including three wins against the Big Ten (Rutgers, Purdue, Illinois).

ESPN recently ranked all 130 Football Bowl Subdivision programs in terms of stability, and Eastern Michigan clocked in at No. 9, tied with Miami for best in the MAC. Eastern Michigan was one of 17 programs ESPN considered to have "extreme stability."

Creighton, whose name has been floated for other openings during his tenure at Eastern Michigan, spent six years at Drake, and before that seven years as head coach at Wabash.

Creighton, 52, and Eastern Michigan open the season at home Friday against St. Francis of Pennsylvania.


Twitter: @tonypaul1984