The Eastern Michigan University football team just finished one of the greatest four-year stretches in program history. It didn’t end well on the scoreboard or on the field on Thursday evening, but one ugly incident in the heat of the moment and in frustration shouldn’t put a cloud over what has been a blue (green) sky of promise for EMU football.
First, let’s not forgive the actions of quarterback Mike Glass III, who was ejected with 10 seconds left in the game after throwing punches at two Pittsburgh players and during the exchange also inadvertently made contact with an official. Yes, it was in the heat of the moment and in frustration, but a senior QB should know better and he certainly did after the game.
Both Glass and EMU Coach Chris Creighton took the “Quick Lane” to not only addressing the incident but accepting responsibility and apologizing.
“They’re embarrassed by it, they apologized to the team,” Creighton said of Glass and teammate Kevin McGill who was ejected earlier in the game. “I’m embarrassed. I apologize to anybody who was watching it and a part of it. Their emotions both got the best of them.”
Glass stepped up after the game as well, tweeting on Friday: “It was an emotional moment near the end of the Quick Lane Bowl and I deeply regret it. This is something I have never done before and I can’t take it back. The only thing I can do is learn from this situation. This was not the way I was raised and I apologize for the way I behaved out there.”
Glass behaved and performed like a true and proud EMU student-athlete during his entire career in Ypsilanti and helped take the program on a very impressive ride to parts unknown for the Eagles. That is what he should and will be remembered for – and not a few seconds of bad judgement in the heat of the moment with a million emotions flying around in his helmet.
He also made a little bit of history. Playing in his final game for the Eagles, Glass surpassed Charlie Batch’s single-season record for total offense. The senior from St. Louis finished with 3,597 yards of total offense (428 rushing, 3,169 passing), which Batch tallied 3,390 yards during the 1997 campaign. Glass was responsible for 394 total yards of offense against Pitt, finishing 28 of 50 passing for 311 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also led the team with a career-high 21 rushes for 83 yards and another touchdown.
The Eagles have now gone to consecutive bowl games and three bowls in the last four years. It’s a very impressive stretch for a program that has always been in the shadow of the team from Ann Arbor but once wasn’t even in the same universe when it came to football.
And I know a little bit of that history. I was a proud student back in the 1980s and I remember like it was yesterday when EMU defeated Kent State to end a 30-something game losing streak. After the game, a few of my classmates and I helped carry the goal posts down to the Huron River – I have no idea why but it was a lot of fun. I still have the ticket stub from that game.
A lot has changed since that game including a new nickname (RIP Hurons), an expanded stadium and practice facility, a gray football field and a lot more games in the win column.
Creighton was named the 37th head football coach at EMU on Dec. 11, 2013 and is the only coach in the school’s history to lead the program to multiple bowl appearances with the 2016 Bahamas Bowl, the 2018 Camellia Bowl and the 2019 Quick Lane Bowl. He was voted a finalist for the 2016 American Football Coaches Awards’ first-ever Comeback Coach of the Year after leading EMU to the program’s first winning season since 1995 and its first bowl appearance since 1987.
He has not only done a good job of winning football games but winning the hearts and minds and enthusiasm of a growing fan base. It was evident on Thursday night at Ford Field as the “home” crowd was covered in green.
“It was awesome,” Creighton said of the fan support at Ford Field. “You know six years ago the vision was to try to make the football program a source of pride for the athletic department, for the university, for Ypsilanti and even the region. We really needed for them to come out and be at Ford Field on Dec. 26 to support the team, and they came out. I’m very, very, very thankful and appreciative. I know our football team is and we’re sorry that we didn’t get it done for them.”
While they didn’t get it done on Thursday, the Eagles are clearly getting it done in the long run. They may have lost the sprint, but it’s the marathon that counts and the Eagles continue to hit their stride and are clearly moving up in the pack.