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Patience is the key for Eastern Michigan Eagles football

The Eagles are off to a really bad start. At 1-5, fans are growing irritated of the situation, but seeing a complete turnaround with the team, program is seriously going to take some time.

Andrew Mascharka (The Eastern Echo)

I need to directly address a certain population here. If you're an Eastern Michigan Eagles fan, student, alumnus, please stick around. Don't go anywhere. Everybody else, I'm sorry, but I don't think I have anything here to tell you. That's not something I think I've ever said before in here, but this is a pretty important issue for us and it's just one of those things where it wouldn't make sense if you were here in the room with the rest of us while this was going on. I hope you don't take it personally and I'll let you come back and hangout with us later, but it's a family thing. Thanks for understanding.

Best of luck to your team the rest of the way though. I do appreciate you for not taking this so personally. I've got nothing against you.

Alright, so the outsiders should be gone now. Now that I have a group of people that are still here that willingly root for EMU, I've got to weed a few more people out. If you want to see success here for Eastern Michigan football, then sit tight. I know there's people that root for EMU but are always the first to say "yup, my school still sucks" whenever the Eagles are trending on social media for doing something that doesn't look good or has some sort of blooper. I'm not saying all fans should be cheerleaders, but there's still too many people that claim to be fans of the program whose first instinct is to point and laugh and are just saturated in negativity. You know, fake friends. They'll probably still comment about this article and say that EMU football will never be good, then come back later to say the same thing about their alma mater while wearing a Michigan hoodie in their Twitter avatars.

I left Rynearson Stadium feeling pretty miserable yesterday. I figured that they'd somehow get a win at home in their fourth try. And not because they only lost by 22 at LSU last weekend, because the Michigan State game in 2012 taught me one valuable lesson: don't buy into those sorts of close losses. I figured that the Eagles went up against a team shouldn't be a matchup nightmare and Akron isn't all that intimidating.

The recorded attendance was a little over 5,638 (that number was cut in half by halftime, then cut in half again by the fourth quarter). I went to the tailgate for a few minutes to see some faces of friends that I haven't seen in a while, and the atmosphere was really good. I'm not comparing attendances and crowds to other tailgates in other places or comparing it to previous ones, but Hewitt St. was definitely a party that was worth attending. I know there's people that only made the trip for it being Homecoming, but it was actually our second-lowest showing in attendance in the four home games thus far: the lowest was 4,473 against Ball State with the Old Dominion and Army games north of 6,000. People that go to games will go to games, regardless of the context. The fact is that there's still people that love EMU football, a program that hasn't had a winning record since Queen released their 15th and final studio album and gas was like a dollar a gallon,.

Here's the deal: if this program is going to be good or great with Chris Creighton at the helm, then you should already know that this is going to take years to accomplish.

I've only been following the team since 2010, so I was fortunate enough to dodge the winless season with Ron English [as well as many more seasons not worth bragging about]. In side conversations, I've noted that I'm grateful that I'm still relatively young in my EMU fandom, because having a team that hasn't been relevant since 1987 is not something that I wanted branded into my life coming out of high school. How you people stick around as long as you have is both really cool and really sad.

People that religiously go to the games want to see this team win. They'll all still come back even if the record is soul-sucking. Then there's the thousands upon thousands more around the area that just don't care and won't care until there's already a turnaround for the program and the Eagles are coming off of another season where they reach a bowl game. I say "another" because one bowl game just won't cut it. I don't say that with too high of expectations, I say that knowing that it's going to take more than just a 7-5 or 9-3 season to see a real, positive difference surrounding the program and community.

It's really fatiguing for the fans that passionately care, but I'm not kidding about the patience. The Eagles are 1-5 so far this season including four miserable losses at home. If they finish 1-11, I wouldn't be surprised. If they somehow orchestrate a four-win season like I prematurely thought they would've back in March, I'd be moderately surprised but still not too much. If the Eagles finish with a 4-8 season next year, I wouldn't be surprised.

Who doesn't want to see an instant turnaround with their team? As restless and annoyed of being the butt-end of a joke in college football and people around the country only rooting for your team out of pity, a real turnaround soon would be preferable, but not an honest expectation. Since the day Creighton was hired in, I circled the year 2017 in my head. Four years with him won't fix everything within the program, but four years is absolutely a fair amount of time to see what sort of strides this coach and his staff and his players and the student body and the boosters and locals and Ypsilanti community have all made to see just what sort of progress we've seen since 2013.

There's nothing I'm about to say that's going to be something you haven't already heard, but I like to keep in mind that Creighton took over more than just an underwhelming team in a really dark time.

This is a program whose historical significance is being historically insignificant.

This is a program that has terrible fan support.

This is a program that wanted to be good but was driving around with a blindfold and without a sense of direction.

This is a program that was so desperate for wins that they scheduled two FCS schools for the 2011 season.

This is a program where the Ann Arbor News just doesn't even bother to come cover the games.

This is a program with alumni that use "well they're not the Hurons" as a way of not wanting to root for them instead of, you know, just getting the hell over it.

This is a program that's never appeared in the Mid-American Conference championship game.

Creighton isn't in the process of rebuilding. Everything has been a huge overhaul of restructuring, from nationally branding the program to scheduling out-of-conference teams differently than what Derrick Gragg did (which is actually more of a Heather Lyke thing), to recruiting players more maturely than English did. I'm not kidding about the patience.

I left Rynearson Stadium feeling pretty miserable yesterday. I drove home, turned on the TV to see former EMU alumnus Terry Collins coaching his New York Mets teams in the playoffs. That was my moment of Zen when I needed a reminder of how long seeing success at Eastern Michigan might take, if at all.