There are few, if any, college football teams that have faced a more emotionally draining season than Eastern Michigan this year.
Eagles’ interim head coach Stan Parrish said he would like nothing more than to at least cap it with a win on Friday at Central Michigan to clinch the Michigan MAC trophy.
“These kids have had to endure a season like no other season,” Parrish said. “And it would be wonderful for the kids.”
The season they had to endure goes beyond their 2-9 record.
In a tragic story that came out of Ypsilanti, EMU football player Demarius Reed was found dead on Oct. 18 with gunshot wounds.
The Ypsilanti Police Department announced, via press release, on Monday that two people have been arrested for murder and robbery charges in the death of Reed.
A day after the news of his death, the team decided to play on and lost at home 56-28 to Ohio.
With the losing continuing, head coach Ron English was fired on Nov. 8, a day before the Eagles played Western Michigan. He finished his tenure with an 11-46 record with EMU.
His firing was due to, among others things, “inappropriate language” found in an audio recording of the coach, according to a statement by EMU Director of Athletics Heather Lyke a day after the he was fired.
Parrish, the offensive coordinator, stepped in his place with experience as a head coach at three schools including Ball State.
He calls himself a “relief pitcher” in a difficult position, guiding the team through the last part of the season.
“Fortunately, having been a head coach, I know some of the things that come with the day-to-day,” Parrish said. “But it’s been extremely difficult. Ron English is a very close friend. Having to take over for him was very difficult on short notice. But what we’ve tried to do is carry on.”
The Eagles answered the bell a day after English was fired with a 35-32 overtime win over the Broncos at home.
However, nothing could go right for EMU on Saturday in the same way the season has not on the field with a 58-7 loss against Bowling Green.
The culmination of all they have endured might have been too much. The Eagles had 65 total yards on offense and four first downs.
“We just didn’t have the same juice and energy that we did against Western (Michigan),” Parrish said. “And you can’t play against a team like Bowling Green like that. But it’s not a game of excuses. It’s a game of results.”