By Ashley Dunkak
When a football team’s record is 11-46 over five years, it would be difficult to say a coach’s firing could be attributed to anything outside a shoddy product on the field.
In the case of Ron English of Eastern Michigan, more was indeed at play. The Detroit News released a recording of a film room session in which English was working with the team’s defensive backs. Apparently, he felt the group lacked accountability, pride, respect for themselves and many other attributes, and he was not shy about saying so.
The rant, which apparently included at least one gay slur, began fairly normal by football terms but grew increasingly profane and heated as it went.
“It’s always you – it’s not nobody else!” English yelled at the start of the recording. “It’s you, it’s you, it’s you.”
“I’ve never been around a place where so many young guys have gone bad, go to s—,” English added a little later. “I mean this is s— work football. It’s bad. Bad as I’ve ever been around. Bad as I’ve ever been around.”
All that is harsh but not unheard of when a coach is disappointed in the team’s effort and heart. Accordingly, the poor quality of play seemed to bother English less than what he perceived to be the attitude of the players.
“That’s a lack of pride, is what that is,” English said. “You have no respect for yourself. You keep blaming everybody else, and you never look at yourself. You never say, ‘You know what?’ I’m not falling into that trap. I’m not being that.’ That’s why I have no respect for all the players that play here!”
From there, the tirade gets more and more personal, questioning the players’ toughness and heart.
“I don’t have f—— respect for you, b—-!” English continued. “I don’t have respect for you little q—–ass b—-, because that’s what you are,” English said. “You went and got your ass kicked, quitter!”
English bellowed more and more about how he did not care about the players, calling them quitters and essentially giving up on them.
“I don’t give a f— about nobody that plays here just because these motherf—— are quitters,” English said. “I don’t give a f— about you, b—-!”
“You ain’t no football players,” English added. “You’re a little f—— b—- that everybody in the league laughs at over and over because they know you will f—— quit.”
As the rant – at least the recorded portion – winds down, English brings it back to what he wants from the players. The final sentence seems to indicate discipline issues English was trying to shock out of the group.
“Do you know why it happened?” English said. “It’s because you allowed it to happen out here. It’s because you just come out on Thursdays and f— around. You come out on Wednesday and Tuesday and f— around.”
Eastern Michigan athletic director Heather Lyke issued a statement that condemned the rant. According to the statement, the recording played a role in English’s dismissal, though it is unknown whether it played a pivotal one.
“I received a tape of a situation in which Coach English had addressed the team and used wholly inappropriate language,” Lyke stated in a Saturday press release. “We hold our coaches and staff to high standards of professionalism and conduct and there is no place, particularly in a student environment, where the language is appropriate.
“The statements made by Coach English are absolutely unacceptable,” the press release continued. “My decision to make a change in leadership of our football program was the culmination of a lot of factors including the comprehensive review of our program, the competitive performance and this tape.”
English took over at Eastern Michigan before the 2009 season. The Eagles went 0-12 in his first season, 2-10 in 2010, 6-6 in 2011, 2-10 in 2012 and was 1-8 in 2013 before his firing.