People see the football program and the men's basketball program, and in the Internet age they've been atrocious. This has parlayed into a national feeling that Eastern Michigan is a terrible sports school, by Division I standards. What they don't see is the non-revenue sports, such as cross-country, track, swimming/diving, and even women's basketball, which has produced Michigan State's women's basketball coach and recently beat Toledo and Michigan.
They also do not remember the Ben Braun years of the 1990s. One year they went to the Sweet 16. Another year they upset Duke in the first round. They know the name Earl Boykins, and they might even know where this tiny dude played college ball, but they do not remember the history. This was a great little mid-major program that has done nothing for the last 12 years.
It can start with either football or men's basketball. Ron English, bless his heart, doesn't seem to have much of a chance in football, but there is room for the program to grow under Rob Murphy at Eastern.
Murphy is a native son of Detroit who played and coached high school ball in Detroit. His several years as an assistant at Kent State and Syracuse have vaulted him into being a respected and viable recruiter and mentor. He now has the task of taking what Charles Ramsey left behind, which isn't much. The current team has streaky shooters and size without skill. This next year will hurt. Maybe the one after that — although a two-year turnaround can happen.
The program can return to 90s-grade success. We may not be able to say the same about Paul Reiser, but the added challenge is that nearby schools such as Oakland are better than they ever were. But Detroit has a wellspring of talent, and if Murphy can route some of those guys into Ypsilanti, the MAC West could have a new contender.
That would be the first domino. When one of the teams is successful, it can cast a better light on the entire athletics program.