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Eastern Michigan Football is Not Going Anywhere

EMU making news for not so great reasons but their demise might be greatly exaggerated.

Andrew Mascharka

If you follow Eastern Michigan sports long enough, there are always two topics that come up:  the logo and when will they drop down a division?  The first question is a subject for another day but the second question has been made relevant again.  A couple days ago there was an episode of Real Sports on HBO dealing with money in college sports in general and Eastern Michigan in particular.  After something like that there is the normal reaction from the community at large and then the rebuttal from Eastern Michigan.

My first experience with Eastern Michigan came in 1987 as a freshman there.  That of course was the glory year where Eastern Michigan won the MAC and the California Bowl.  The years following that have been less than glorious up to and include last year's one win season.  To say fan support is lacking is an understatement.  There was an average of 4,900 people at the games last year with attendance getting worse as the season progressed.

The main point is that the Eastern Michigan Athletics Department is subsidized to the tune of 27 million dollars.  Since football is the high profile item, it is also the high profile target.  However, if I were going to guess, football is probably the program that generates the most revenue.  First of all, they bring in money when they travel to higher profile teams to get a paycheck.  I'm sure they also bring in revenue from those ticket sales (as abysmal as they may be).  If Eastern were to drop down a level, I'm not sure they would realize a huge savings.  I could see savings if they went to a conference that didn't allow football scholarships but I think their budget would get eaten up in travel expenses.

The second point deals with fan apathy. I don't see where dropping down a level would help in that regard either unless they started winning regularly.  One of the main arguments I've seen for dropping down a level is so that they wouldn't have to compete with Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Michigan and Michigan State for fan support.  Instead they would be competing with Oakland, Wayne State, Saginaw Valley, and others for fan support.  I don't see where that would be an improvement.

The last point deals with lack of success.  Ever since that magical 1987 season, the team has been less than successful.  Winning seasons were sporadic in that time.  Despite the one win season last year, I saw signs of improvement last year.  I think Coach Creighton has them on the right track and I hope that bears fruit next season or the season after.  Again, I could see immediate success if they bump down a level or two but that wont last.  If Eastern Michigan does improve, winning takes care of apathy I think.  Not to mention, they would lose their MAC affiliation.

With 21 varsity sports, I could see Eastern Michigan dropping some of the other sports in an effort to save money.  But sadly, many of those sports are successful, so it would be a tough choice.  Maybe they dump some of the recent sports but we'll see.

I don't think football is going anywhere in the near future but I think if Creighton doesn't turn things around, the talk could get louder.  And since my tradition on Eagle Totem was to post a picture, here goes....

Now it would be nice if this would go away Kenneth Bailey

Now it would be nice if this would go away