Posted: 8:28 p.m. Wednesday, March 20, 2013
By Matt Sussman
I feel bad that I never got around to writing anything up about Jeff Compher leaving Northern Illinois for East Carolina, but that happened and it was to be expected, given that he's done a good job hiring football coach after successful football coach. Derrick Gragg, bound for Tulsa in May, is a different story. Eastern Michigan has largely been an institution rife with struggling revenue sports, but the Eagles' non-revenue powerhouses have been undeniable, notably their swimming/diving, cross country and track and field teams.
This is a pretty damn good stat:
Under the leadership of Gragg, Eastern Michigan turned in extremely successful campaigns in each of his years at the helm. In total, EMU totaled 24 Mid-American Conference team championships, 32 MAC Coach of the Year Awards, 38 MAC Player of the Year honors and 164 individual MAC champions.
Joke about the success and attendance of their football and basketball attendances all you want. Yes, they're the most visible sports teams in college athletics. But the success does exist, and he clearly earned a job at a school where he can succeed at all sports. Tulsa, in the summer, is HOT AS HELL, but at least it's so far distanced from any other major university that he won't suffer an inferiority complex. Oklahoma University is two hours away, and Oklahoma State is about an hour away, but in comparison to EMU-Michigan, they may as well be on Mars.
Something else of note: Gragg's seven years as EMU athletic director are the longest since Gene Smith (yes, Ohio State's Gene Smith) oversaw the position from 1986-1993. But it should be mentioned that the next AD miiiight want to focus on energizing the football and basketball fanbases.