Opinion: Dan Enos’ contract extension is about stability, not success

Grand Central's Ben Raven believes Dan Enos still has plenty to prove in 2013.

Dan Enos has 13-24 record as the head coach of Central Michigan. (Photo courtesy of CMUChippewas.com)

Central Michigan football is sticking to their guns and going with the route of stability, giving head coach Dan Enos a new four-year contract with a pay raise. The deal only officially counts as a one-year extension but will keep Enos in charge until at least 2016.

There is nothing wrong with stability, especially in today’s day-and-age of the coaching carousel. What I see as troubling is the statement released from the athletic department and Athletic Director Dave Heeke stating that this “recognizes the success,” Enos has had at Central. I have a different definition of success as I feel many tuition paying students do.

Enos came into Central on the heels of a Mid-American Conference Championship and a Top 25 finish, following it up with back-to-back 3-9 seasons. Sure, Central went 7-6 this season, beat a Big Ten team on the road (Iowa) and won its bowl game but it’s not as pretty as it sounds. The season included sloppy wins against Southeast Missouri State and the University of Massachusetts who was in just its first year as a member of the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision), both of which don’t scream quality.

The team was .500 in conference play and its only “good-looking” win of the season came against arguably the Big Ten conference’s worst team in Iowa. There were a lot of opportunities missed this season and it looked like this team still had a long way to go, quite frequently.

Between Sept. 8 and Nov. 3, Central was outscored by opponents 268-158, including a four-game losing streak. It didn’t look like Enos would make it to the 2013 with his job intact after this horrendous stretch but something changed with his team after that painful loss to Western Michigan at home.

A three-game winning streak to end the season made Central bowl eligible, leading to an invite to Ford Field in Detroit to the Little Caesars Bowl to take on Western Kentucky University, which of course resulted in a 24-21 exhilarating victory for Central.

Anytime a team can end its season with a bowl victory, it’s a good thing. It was a shaky road but the saying “it doesn’t matter where you start, but where you end up,” has to be the motto that Enos values the most.

The question that many will ask, is what merited an extra year to be added to his contract? Was 2015 not enough time for Enos to turn this program around? Don’t’ get me wrong, this team made a leap in the right direction in the second half of the 2012-13 season but some people around campus were still curious about whether or not Enos would return in 2013.

The 2013-14 season will be a very interesting year for Central, as its mainstay at quarterback Ryan Radcliff moves on from his career as Chippewa, finishing second in school passing yards, completions, touchdowns and total offense. Radcliff struggled in Enos’ first two seasons as he threw 33 interceptions in just 24 games but he bounced back in his senior season throwing for 23 touchdowns to only nine interceptions.

With Radcliff gone, the team will obviously start a new signal caller once next season gets underway. There are three quarterbacks that could possibly return from this year’s roster to take the helm; Cody Kater, Alex Niznak and Cooper Rush.

Niznak generated the most buzz on campus when he arrived, following a state championship at nearby Ithaca High School. In his junior and senior seasons, Niznak eclipsed 50 total touchdowns each year, which makes him a very popular pick to replace Radcliff.

Much of the pressure for next season will be on who Enos chooses to lead his offense but luckily this is an area of expertise for him, as he was the quarterbacks coach at Michigan State University prior to taking the head coaching position at Central. One thing is for certain, whoever does start at quarterback will be handing the ball to running back Zurlon Tipton time and time again.

Tipton returns for his senior season after an impressive 1,492 yards and 19 touchdowns. Enos did a great job at balancing out the offense as Central had struggled in past seasons to establish a consistent rushing attack. If there is one thing that can alleviate pressure for an inexperienced quarterback, its a running back with the experience and ability of Tipton.

Enos will begin his fourth season with full support from the athletic department, but that doesn’t make anything easier on the field. Central has three challenging road games slated for their non-conference schedule which includes Michigan, North Carolina State and the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

This rebuilding process is headed in the right-direction but crucial steps lie ahead for Enos when picking a quarterback and strengthening the defense.


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