Eastern Michigan's first-year football coach Ron English ready to go
Ron English knows he can't afford to let his office sit vacant over the summer months.
He's taken time for himself here and there, but the first-year Eastern Michigan University football coach understands the value of his players knowing he's busy.
English, who enters his first head coaching jobs following defensive coordinator stints at Michigan and Louisville, recently sat down with AnnArbor.com to discuss the challenge of changing the football culture at a school that hasn't posted a winning season since 1997.
Q: Are you starting to get that itch to get started with your new players? A: If you see our players, their bodies look different and if you see them do something, it looks a lot different. So what excites me is just the improvement and just to know we're going to have a chance to build on that as the season goes.
Q: What's the biggest difference that you sense now from when you first met your players? A: Any time there's a new beginning for people, they feel like they've got a chance again. When I first came in here, the body language of these kids was terrible. I think they kind of felt like losers. But you look at them now and I think when you work hard, you start to feel better about yourself regardless of what the outcome is.
Q: Are there times you feel more like a psychologist than you do a football coach? A: To me, it's more, 'If you do this, this will happen' or 'If you do that, that will happen.' I'm just trying to teach them how to be successful and it really entails having a plan, working the plan and finishing.
Q: Was the challenge of turning this program around part of the allure of taking the job? A: I purposely don't look at that because I don't want any influences. If you look at people who are successful, they may look upon last year, but they really don't dwell on last year. So for me, it's a clean slate and that's how I choose to look at it. These kids have a four or five year window and so does (Eastern's history of losing) really matter to them? I don't know that.
Q: What's the thing that has surprised you most about this job? A: There's a volume of work that's completely different and it's a lot more work. You're never off and there's very little time that's your own.
Q: As you get closer to the Army game, does the workload sometime seem overwhelming as to it relates to what you need to do before then? A: As it gets closer, you'll know if your guys are getting closer. But for me, it's about not losing days. When you go to practice, it's about that practice or it's about that workout that they just did. But our (workout) attendance has been phenomenal this year. I think it's been pretty close to 100 percent and that gives you a chance. Now, it becomes a matter of once they learn how hard it is and the consistency they need to have in terms of their work habits, now it becomes how good they can become at their work.
Q: I know you've put yourself out there on Twitter. What's that been like? A: I can't Twitter a lot because I don't have a lot to Twitter about. But I like it because you can stay in touch with people and people can stay in touch with you. It's flattering that people even care. I'm really looking forward to (updating it).
Q: What's the biggest benefit you see from using social networking to promote your program? A: Right now, there's no rules against Twittering with a recruit or prospect, and so I think (with Twitter), they can get a feel for you and who you are and what you're about. And it's short, so it doesn't take a long time. At first, I thought it would be a nuisance, but I really like it. I've got 300 or 400 followers, and so that's good and so, hopefully, some of those people come out and watch us.