Why Eastern Michigan football's future matters in Tampa Bay
If a report from Eastern Michigan University's faculty and students has its way, the school will drop out of Division I football.
That report, as covered by the Detroit Free Press, is startling: Faculty member Howard Bunsis told the school's board of regents that "EMU football will simply never succeed" and that it "is a losing proposition - always has been, and always will be."
Well then. You can (and should) read the Free Press' full story here.
In the meantime, here's why the future of football at a program in Ypsilanti, Mich. matters locally: Recruiting.
Eastern Michigan is in the Mid-American Conference - a league that pulls many of its top athletes and skill players from Florida.
Obviously Florida's major colleges recruit Tampa Bay well, but there aren't enough spots for all of the state's D-I players. While the top-tier players go anywhere - usually the SEC or ACC - the second- or third-tier players need somewhere to go. That somewhere often turns out to be the MAC. More specifically, that somewhere is Eastern Michigan.
The Eagles have six locals on their roster: WR Isaac Holder (Sickles), WR Kezio Snelling (Steinbrenner), QB James Pensyl (Land O'Lakes), LB Jaylen Pickett (Zephyrhills), DB Trevor Duke (River Ridge) and RB Willie Parker (Carrollwood Day). For comparison, Florida State's roster has only seven players from Tampa Bay (including walk-ons).
At least two of those Eagles were given second chances; Eastern Michigan stuck with Snelling even after he tore his ACL, and Pensyl landed at there after a late coaching change messed with his commitment to Oregon State.
EMU is wrestling with a major financial (and moral) decision that will affect its students, alumni and bottom line. But if the Eagles eventually drop out of Division I, the effects of that decision will be felt 1,200 miles south.