In March 1853 the first class of 122 students started at MSNS. Almost half were men. The campus was a four-acre plot with one building and two programs of study – a three year classical course and a two year English course. Admission requirements stated that those who wished to take the English Course must be at least 14 years of age and those who wished to study the Classical Course must be at least 13 years of age.
Generating educators was the primary focus of the school. Some students might come to Normal as preparation for college, but most were encouraged to enter teaching as profession. Even the tuition codes nudged students toward education. Students preparing to be teachers paid $3 per term or $4 for Classics. Those not planning to teach but preparing for college paid $8 a term for Classics and $6 for English
The school’s name changed several times – to Michigan State Normal College in 1899; to Eastern Michigan College in 1956; and finally to Eastern Michigan University in 1959.
Today’s undergrad enrollment at EMU is about 17,000 with 90% coming from Michigan. One important stat for anyone living in the area looking for love -- 60% of the current EMU student population is female.
Location: Ypsilanti, Michigan. The city is named for Demetrius Ypsilantis, a field general in the Greek army during the country's struggle for independence from the Ottoman empire. His career was highlighted the successful defense of the Citadel of Argos in 1824. With 220 soldiers, he held the fortress against an army of eight thousand. Having exhausted his provisions, he escaped one night beyond the enemy lines with his entire command, having lost not a single man. Think of the Alamo where all the Texans escape. There is a bust of him between a Greek and a US flag at the base of the Ypsilanti Water Tower (yes, I know what that water tower looks like).
Originally a trading post established in 1809 by a French-Canadian fur trader from Montreal, it was permanently settled on the east side of the Huron River in 1823 by Major Thomas Woodruff. It was incorporated into the Territory of Michigan as The Village of Woodruff's Grove. A separate community a short distance away on the west side of the river was established two years later under the name "Ypsilanti". Woodruff's Grove changed its name to Ypsilanti in 1829, and the two communities eventually merged.
The town – like many in Michigan - has historically been heavily connected to Detroit auto industry. Despite the current tough times, ,it is not a bad place.
Nickname: They currently call themselves the Eagles, which was chosen in a 1991 rename the team contest over the Green Hornets and Pioneers. EMU originally went by the nicknames "Normalites" and "Men from Ypsi" and various other random names. In 1929 they officially became known as "Hurons".
They renamed themselves before the NCAA started pushing for politically correct nickname changes. Based on a report from the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, the school administration decided to act. This decision still infuriates many EMU alums -- and I happen to agree with them. Hurons was a unique and location appropriate moniker. The Huron River runs through Ypsilanti, and the indigenous people for whom the river was named were native to southeast Michigan. If Central Michigan and Florida State can keep their native American tribe names with the support of the tribe, I don’t think that Eastern Michigan should have changed.
Yesterday, our friend Mikoyan and our resident EMU alum shared his belief that the school should have renamed themselves the Emus. I spent a couple minutes on photoshop to see what it could possibly look like, in my opinion that would have been tremendous choice.
Mascot: EMU has a costumed Eagle named Swoop. A quick check of previous Eagle KYFs confirms this is the third mascot named SWOOP Michigan has faced in the Rich Rodriguez era (Utah and Miami, Ohio are the others). Coincidentally, Eastern used a foam costumed eagle as a mascot for six years before they actually adopted the Eagles nickname. At the time, every one thought it was a duck.
Colors: Green and White. OK, I will come right out and say it: Eastern Michigan is my favorite green and white school in the state. Despite what EMU and MSU might lead you to believe, this color combination is pretty rare. I can only find four other NCAA FBS schools that use it (Marshall, North Texas, Ohio, and Hawaii). Believe it or not, there is not one single green/white school in the ACC, Big East, SEC, Big12, Mountain West, or Pac10 conferences.
Logo: A green block “E” with an angry/dazed Eagle head on the left. Considering their generic nickname selection, this is as good as any other eagle named team. When they were the Hurons, EMU had a wonderful proud logo complete with an Indian profile. If I were a member of the Wyandotte Nation -- I would be proud to have my heritage honored by Eastern Michigan University.
Helmets: They currently have a dark green helmet, black face masks, with a block “E” on the side. As is true with most MAC schools, Eastern Michigan has changed their helmet frequently over the years. Looking at their history of helmet designs, it is clear to me that Eastern has professional football aspirations, whether it is in the NFL or the CFL.
Fight Song: In 1991, along with the name switch the Eagles Fight Song replaced the Hurons Fight Song. I’d never heard the EMU fight song before I started doing my research.
Unsurprisingly, the music is the type of generic college music you would expect hear in a Disney movie. Boring.
It is important to note that along with removing the sensitive Huron name, Eastern also addressed the issue of gender discrimination in the original.
|Original HURON lyrics|
Hurons, Hurons, Hats off to you!
Fight, Fight, Fight for old EMU.
Shout to the sky the Hurons' war cry
The bravest will defy!
Hold that line for old Green and White
Loyal sons come show your might
Fight! Fight! for old EMU and victory!
|Current EAGLE lyrics|
Eastern Eagles hats off to you!
Fight, fight, fight for old EMU
Look to the sky,
The Eagles will fly,
The bravest will defy
Rah! Rah! Rah!
Hold that line for old green and white
Sons and daughters show your might
So FIGHT! FIGHT! for old EMU and victory
Academics: According to the most recent US News and World Report, Eastern Michigan University falls in the “third tier” category along with fellow Michigan choices Western Michigan, Ferris State, Northern Michigan and U-M Flint.
The school is listed by USNWR as a “selective” university, but in the Fall of 2008 they accepted 72.6% of the applicants. I guess they are about as selective as a drunk college guy at closing time.
Football program: It has to be tough for Eastern Michigan. They play their football games about 10 miles from the largest stadium in the country and compete for attention with a program that has the most wins in the history of the sport. Imagine taking the Detroit Lions and moving them to Mount Lebanon, Pa (suburb of Pittsburgh) and compete for the hearts and minds of Steelers fans.
Nonetheless, they have been playing football in Ypsilanti since 1891. They have had undefeated/untied seasons in 1925, ‘27, and ’43, although in 1943 they only played 2 games, both against Wayne State. Overall they have won 426 games and lost 507 (with 47 ties). The last coach (that lasted more than a couple of games) to have a winning record at EMU was Dan Boisture (1967-1973). They have been to two bowl games, winning the 1987 California Bowl. They have put 30 players into the NFL.
Lloyd Carr made his college coaching debut as an assistant for the 1976 Hurons. The current Eastern Michigan football team is coached by our former defensive coordinator, Ron English. Former Michigan Rose Bowl MVP Tyrone Wheatley is on English’s staff as the running backs coach.
Other Sports: EMU was a member of the Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference from 1950-1961 and has been a member of the MAC since 1972. Historically they have won three NCAA Division II national championships and 13 NAIA Division I national championships in five different sports (baseball, men's cross country, men's swimming and diving, men's indoor track and field, and men's outdoor track and field). In 1976 the EMU baseball team finished second in the College World Series, led by former MLBer Bob Welch.
The Eagles have also won the Reese Trophy, given to the best overall men's athletic program in the four times, most recently in 2008.
Famous alums: The fact that Eastern Michigan isn’t a national university is reflected their list of famous alums. Non-athletes include WWII Hero Dean Rockwell, Indian actor Nagarjuna Akkineni, Last Comic Standing winner John Heffron, Former Michigan State Chief Justice Leland Carr, Former Michigan Governor Fred Green, Army 4 star General John G. Coburn, TV Judge Greg Mathis, NASCAR owner Jack Roush, and current Ann Arbor mayor John Hieftje.
Well known athletes from EMU include former Lions QB Charlie Batch, American League Cy Young Award winner Bob Welch, short NBA player Earl Boykins, and most importantly NBA Hall of Famer George Gervin.
The Game:Let's be honest here. After beating Western Michigan and Notre Dame, there is NO WAY this game should be close.
Eastern is coming off a heart breaking loss at Northwestern. New coach Ron English has scrapped the spread offense from the previous regime, looking instead to establish a power running attack. Trouble is, he has not had the time to recruit the players for that type of style.
This could get ugly early. I expect to see a lot of running plays and a bunch of plays for Denard Robinson. Before I get too far ahead of myself, we are still very young and only a couple of games removed from being terrible. We have learned over the last few seasons that ANYTHING can happen, but it won't.
Eastern Michigan 10