"I have a vision and I want to make the experience of playing football at Eastern Michigan University one of the most incredible experiences of their lives."
That's what Chris Creighton said when news broke out that he would be the new head coach for the Eagles. 44 years old with 17 years of head coaching experience, EMU Athletic Director Heather Lyke picked up the phone and called Creighton about a month ago about this opportunity. That first phone call lasted an hour. "In our conversations," Creighton said, "I think that she was looking for a leader, a team builder, somebody who will do it the right way, those things are what resonate with me. I want to be a leader of young men. I want to create a culture and atmosphere where we can become our best and we can do things that maybe we or others didn't think were possible."
Before the coach spoke to the public at the press conference on Thursday, December 12, EMU President Susan Martin took the podium on the University's behalf. At one point, she pointed towards Rynearson Stadium exclaiming, "We will fill that stadium and we will go to a bowl game!" Full of energy, passion and desire to win, Creighton got everybody at press conference fired up, excited for the next chapter in this program's future to start. That sort of excitement is what's been missing at EMU for quite some time.
Chris Creighton Introductory Press Conference (via emuathletics)
Creighton spent the last six years at Drake University, a Pioneer Football League school where he held an overall head coaching record of 44-22. He is the seventh coach in Drake's history to win at least 40 games and the fastest to do so. An offensive mindset, the Bulldog offense accumulated just over 4,500 yards in 2012, where the Bulldogs averaged 29.3 points per game, finishing the year with an 8-3 record. On average, his offenses in the passes six years have had 3,796.8 yards (2,640.3 avg. pass, 1,156.8 avg. rush) with 25.9 points per game. Also having head coaching experience at Ottawa University and Wabash College, Creighton has won eight conference championships.
Having played quarterback in college for Kenyon College in Ohio, he led the team to their only North Coast Athletic conference title in 1989, was named conference player of the year setting single-season conference records with the most passing yards (2,843) and touchdowns (29). He was a Division-III All-American that year. In 1993, Creighton was a played for, as well as taking on the roles of head coach and quarterbacks coach for, the Linhamn Griffins. In that year, he helped lead the Griffins win their first national championship in franchise history.
I know, freaking sweet, right?
As we all know, Ron English was eventually fired after his explicit remarks directed towards his players after a practice. I know there are a ton of people out there still thinking that swearing and belittling your players is just part of the game to get everybody motivated, but Creighton would strongly disagree with that logic.
"I think we can communicate without profanity," Creighton told the media. "I'm gonna treat these guys like men. I'm an intense man and I have a high standard. I don't think you have to use profanity to get the best out of guys." 17 years of that same philosophy as a head coach, Creighton has overall record of 139-46, a .764 winning percentage.
I spoke with Lyke and asked her, "what differentiates coach Creighton from all of the other candidates?" She paused, looked up, took a breath and replied, "The purpose for why he coaches. His energy, his passion, his leadership skills, his convictions of who he is as a head coach. The answers that he gave today is what he'll give consistently." The fact that Creighton has never had a losing season as a head coach was impressive to her as well.
Signed for 5-years for $400,000 per year, Creighton is already hard at work as left the Convocation Center on Thursday after spending time with the media to go to the 2013 Dream Team banquet in Dearborn, Mich. to get a head start on recruiting players within the state of Michigan.
One last tidbit about Creighton's head coaching resume: his first head coaching job was in 1997 when he became the leader for Ottawa University's football team. Taking over a team that had a 1-8 record the previous season, Creighton turned things around, finishing with a 9-2 record, winning their first conference championship since 1972.
The question "can Creighton fix Eastern Michigan football?" could very well be answered with "yes, he can", but the answer to "will he fix Eastern Michigan football?" remains to be unseen. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait a few months to see what the new coach can bring his team to do, but there's a lot to be optimistic about and it could be worth the wait.