There are a couple of ways you could review the Eastern Michigan Eagles football team.
A two-win season with the worst, and I mean worst, defense in the Mid-American Conference, you can shake your head and say, "it sucked." How could you argue against that? They had to bounce back from an 11-point deficit to beat the Howard Bison, an FCS football team that finished their season with a 6-6 record, to start the year off, and not winning again until a somewhat inferior Western Michigan Broncos team (1-11, 0-8) came to Rynearson Stadium, and that one had to go into overtime.
Saying "it sucked" is true, but there are a lot of teams that suck every year. "It sucked" doesn't paint the full picture. Another way you could look at how the 2013 season played out is by saying "it sucked, but these kids had to overcome a lot just to step foot on the field in the first place."
Head coach Ron English was already on the hot seat before the season started. Four years at EMU with a 10-38 record, anything less than a winning season would be unacceptable.
Staring the season off with a comeback win over Howard and back-to-back road losses against Penn State and Rutgers, the Eagles came back for a home matchup against Ball State. Letting up 27 points in the first quarter and ending with a 51-20 loss on Homecoming created a lot of anger for the EMU fans, calling for English's head and wanting him gone. However, after a few days passed and no changes were made to the coaching staff, it became very clear at the time that English wouldn't be fired and would just finish the final year on his contract.
From there, the then 1-3 Eagles lost at Buffalo and then embarrassed by Army in West Point. But it got worse.
On Friday, October 18, junior wide receiver Demarius Reed was found dead in his apartment after being shot and robbed because of the clothes he was wearing.
(Side note: Another EMU student, Julia Niswender, died over a year ago in her off-campus apartment. Two weeks before his death, he actually ran into Niswender's mother at a local Meijer.)
Losing a very kind and close friend, the teammates still had to strap up their helmets and play football the very next day against the Ohio Bobcats. Still ending up with a loss, it wasn't easy for any of them to go through with it.
The very next week, Brogan Roback made his first start of the season over Tyler Benz at quarterback. Which there is an argument to be made that maybe he should have been redshirted, being that it took seven weeks to give him his first start on his first year on campus. It's not like Benz would have lost his starting job if the Eagles weren't 1-6 at this point, either.
But no matter, Roback was able to show his skills through the rest of the season. Statistically speaking, he didn't really put up numbers to drool over, but at least we were all able to see the kind of arm he has and what kind of competitor he became. He completed 42 percent of his passes (49-for-116) for 640 yard with four touchdowns and five interceptions in 2013.
The day before the Eagles' home matchup against in-state rival Western Michigan, coach English was fired after EMU's athletic director received a recording of English's locker room tirade, addressing some of the defensive players on the team (WARNING: this recording is very vulgar, containing a lot of f-bombs and homophobic slurs).
Again, the boys had to strap up their helmets and play football the very next day. Interim head coach and offensive coordinator Stan Parrish let Roback play his first full game, helping them win their first game in nine weeks in a 35-32 overtime thriller.
Unfortunately, that's as good as it'd get for the Eagles that year. Losing the final two games of the year to Bowling Green and Central Michigan, the Eagles ended up having the worst defense in the Mid-American Conference with an underachieving offense, finishing the year with a 2-10 record.
Yes, it sucked. It sucked for the fans, it sucked for the players, it sucked for everybody that's been waiting for this team to have some sort of turnaround and get to their first bowl game in 26 years. Looking ahead to next year, it'll be interesting to see with new head coach Chris Creighton at the helm. And we all have questions as to how good of a hire this really was, and we won't really know until he hires a coaching staff and the 2014 season is underway. I do know one thing is for certain, no EMU fan wants to read another season recap a year from now saying that "it sucked."