H 64° L 39°
  • clear-night
    Current Conditions
    Sunny. H 64° L 39°
  • clear-day
    Sunny. H 64° L 39°
  • clear-day
    Sunny. H 68° L 42°

Wsb news on-demand

00:00 | 00:00


Wsb traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00


Wsb weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Building the Eagles at Eastern Michigan

Eastern Michigan's football team has stepped out of the shadows cast by the neighboring University of Michigan and four professional teams just down the road in the Motor City.

The Eagles (7-5) will face Georgia Southern (9-3) in the Camellia Bowl on Saturday, earning a spot in postseason play for the second time in three years and just the third time since the school started playing major college football in the mid-1970s.

"Five years ago, there were very few people on this Earth that believed that was possible," coach Chris Creighton said in his office earlier this week. "Now, we have some evidence that it is indeed possible."

Creighton, his staff and players have taken the program to unprecedented heights. He granted The Associated Press behind-the-scenes access to get a glimpse at some of the work.


"Here goes nothing," Creighton says softly as he walks into a conference room, embellished with "Champions Built Here" across the top of the wall to his left. It's 8 a.m. Monday and time for a staff meeting. There is a lot to do with a trip to Alabama coming up at the end of the week.

Creighton sits at the near end of an oval table with nine assistant coaches, who are surrounded by a dozen more people on the support staff. The devoutly religious coach bows his head as does everyone else in the quiet room.

"Pray for a special week and an awesome time with our guys," Creighton says. "Pray our guys have an absolute blast and that we play our best football of the year."

Preparing for practice later in the day is not a simple task. Two assistants differ on the length of practice.

"More is better for me," defensive coordinator Neal Neathery says.

The coach sitting one spot to his left lobbies for less in part because the players also are in finals week.

"I worry about wearing them down," offensive coordinator Aaron Keen says.

Creighton splits the difference and slightly shortens practice.

The topic of recruiting takes up most of the 52-minute meeting, which includes mentions of schools such as Massachusetts, Western Kentucky and New Mexico trying to sign some of the same players. The coaches discuss how well they got to know some prospects the previous weekend. Turns out some of the kids were more challenging to engage in conversation.

"Are we recruiting football players or guys who can talk?" cornerbacks coach Fred Reed bristles.

As soon as the meeting ends, Reed pops out of his chair and is the first to exit the room. Creighton follows Reed down the hallway and goes into his office.

"I told him we want both good football players and good guys who can talk so we can get to know them," Creighton explains.

Creighton knows what he's selling to the recruits, now in his fifth year at Eastern. He is a familiar face in Ypsilanti, a working-class town with 20,000 residents easy to drive by on I-94 if the destination is, say, Ann Arbor. The mighty Wolverines play in the Big House, just six miles from the Eagles' Rynearson Stadium.

Eastern Michigan has had some great players over the years, some of whom are in the NFL such as Detroit Lions guard T.J. Lang, but it hasn't had many good or even mediocre teams. Two years ago, HBO made the school a subject of a critical report about how much it spends on athletics.

Eastern Michigan hired Creighton in 2014 after he led Drake University, Wabash College and Ottawa University in Kansas. He didn't have a losing record until his debut season with the Eagles in 2014 when they were 2-10 and the next season, they took a step back and won only one game.

Eastern Michigan won seven games two years ago — the most in a quarter-century — and earned a trip to the Bahamas Bowl. This year, the Eagles won enough to make postseason plans again.


Eastern Michigan created a buzz on social media when it posted a video of Creighton asking for his team to be selected for a bowl and setting up his players to lip sync the Grammy-winning song "Say My Name" by Destiny's Child. Even with seven wins, a Mid-American Conference team can get left home during the postseason.

The Eagles got what they wanted Dec. 2, but they also got less than three weeks to prepare for the trip to Montgomery, Alabama, to play a team for the first time.

Shortly after 10:30 a.m. Monday, Creighton meets in his office overlooking the football stadium with director of football operations Dylan Saccone and associate athletic director Greg Steiner to discuss day-by-day details of the five-day-trip. The creative coach, who has his players knock down a concrete wall with sledgehammers before each home game, shares his latest idea.

Ten players on the team are graduating this month, but they will miss commencement ceremonies Saturday because they will be about 700 miles away from Ypsilanti, Michigan, during the bowl game.

Creighton came up with a way to honor the graduates Friday night.

"Each guy gets their name called, they go up and get the fake diploma and the pep-rally crowd goes bananas," he says. "That'll be fun."

Saccone and Steiner sign off and make arrangements for it to happen. Creighton orders a Turkey Tom with cheese from Jimmy John's, starting the submarine sandwich at his desk and finishing it in a meeting with his offensive staff.


Just four days before flying to Alabama, offensive line coach Luke Meadows leaves the Eagles for the same job at Kansas.

"We can't compete with Power Five money," Creighton laments. It is just after noon.

Creighton's list of things to do, which he writes every day on notepads, includes finding a coach for the offensive line. He has some candidates in mind, as do his assistants, including tight end coach Rob Reeves, who had a growing list of names on a piece of paper.

"People are hitting up everybody on the staff to try to get in here," Creighton says.

Despite doing what has never been done at Eastern Michigan, no one seems to be trying to pry the 49-year-old Creighton away to a bigger program, not this year anyway. He is grateful to be employed after peers at Central Michigan, Akron and Bowling Green lost their jobs this year.

"Nobody wants me," Creighton says humbly. "John Bonamego went to three straight bowl games and they fired him. Terry Bowden was in the MAC championship game, his quarterback got hurt and they fired him. The Bowling Green coach had been there for two seasons."

Creighton leads a spirited practice, having players jump around him enthusiastically to simulate how excited they would be on the sideline for their teammates. To help simulate what Georgia Southern does on offense and defense, the scout teams have small tablets attached to belts so they can see where they are supposed to go on each snap.

Brett Petersmark, who played for Eastern Michigan in the mid-1980s, was one of the few visitors at practice.

"I think we're just scratching the surface because coach Creighton is real," Petersmark says. "He doesn't play games. He doesn't have an ego. He wants quality men, who want to earn a degree and play football.

"I had lunch when he got here and I said, 'It's going to take time because it's probably tougher than you think it is to win here because Eastern Michigan has a lot of baggage.' We've gone through a bunch of football coaches, but we got a great one now."

Creighton gets fired up soon after walking off the practice field in a dome, which the team has to vacate by 6 p.m. because it is rented by a youth soccer program. He briskly goes past a 60,000-square foot structure that is a major upgrade to the athletic department's facilities and into the visitors' locker room. He and the players get in and out of uniform under the stadium's bleachers because their previous locker room was demolished for the new facility.

Creighton picks up his cellphone after changing and pumps his right fist.

"A commitment!" he says. "A good one!"

Creighton has a current player and a potential recruit waiting for him in the football program's office lobby. It has been 12 hours after he arrived for work and there is more to do. The early signing period, after all, opens next Wednesday just four days after the bowl game.

"I look at my watch all the time," Creighton says. "I want time to slow down because I need more time to get to the next thing."


More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25


Follow Larry Lage on Twitter at www.twitter.com/larrylage

Read More


  • If you enjoy viral posts, a “Little Mermaid”-themed hairdo of a girl who attends a Houston preschool is part of your world.  >> Read more trending news  Atlantis Castillo sported braided hair to resemble the ponytail of Ariel, the main character in the Disney movie classic, “The Little Mermaid,” KTRK reported. It was part of a crazy hair day theme at Clear Lake United Methodist Church’s preschool, the television station reported. Ariel Romero posted photos of her younger sister’s hairstyle on Twitter, and they created a wave of positive reaction on social media. “My sister had crazy hair day at school today and my mom was not playing games and really wanted her to win,” Romero tweeted Tuesday. The hairstyle featured a bright green-colored braid that looked like a mermaid tail, topped by an Ariel doll on Atlantis’ head that resembled a hair pick. The hairstyle was created by Atlantis’ mother, KHOU reported. “My mom did the mermaid because my name is Ariel and my sister is Atlantis which is where Ariel lives under the sea,” Romero tweeted. “We’ve grown up loving mermaids thanks to my parents.” 
  • City Council members in San Antonio approved a concession agreement at the city’s airport that will exclude Chick-fil-A, KSAT reported. >> Read more trending news  By a 6-4 vote, the council approved the Food, Beverage and Retail Prime Concession Agreement with Paradies Lagardère at the San Antonio International Airport. The motion to exclude the Atlanta-based chicken chain from the airport was brought to the floor by council member Roberto Treviño, WOAI reported. Chick-fil-A has a history of donating to anti-LGBTQ organizations, and the city’s vote was applauded by the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio, a local LGBTQ political action committee, KSAT reported. “The LGBTQ community is excited that the City Council has decided to look for restaurants that support all Americans in our airport,” Chris Forbrich, a co-chairman of the organization, told the television station. Treviño released a statement Friday, saying the decision “reaffirmed the work our city has done to become a champion of equality and inclusion.” “San Antonio is a city full of compassion, and we do not have room in our public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior,” Treviño said. 'Everyone has a place here, and everyone should feel welcome when they walk through our airport. I look forward to the announcement of a suitable replacement by Paradies.” Chick-fil-A released a statement, calling the action “disappointing.” “This is the first we’ve heard of this. It’s disappointing. We would have liked to have had a dialogue with the city council before this decision was made,” the company said in its statement. “We agree with Council member Treviño that everyone is and should feel welcome at Chick-fil-A. We plan to reach out to the city council to gain a better understanding of this decision.”
  • The U.S. Coast Guard offloaded more than 27,000 pounds of cocaine in Miami Beach that was seized in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. >> Read more trending news  'It will all be offloaded by the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa today in Miami Beach Florida and sent for destruction,' the Coast Guard said in a Facebook post.  The Coast Guard said in a news release that the drugs are worth an estimated $360 million. The cocaine was seized in 12 separate operations off the coasts of Mexico, Central America and South America during a three-month period.  Using #notonourstreets, the Coast Guard posted video on Facebook of the seizure, saying, “Here’s what 27,000 lbs. of cocaine looks like.”  'It takes a collaborative and sophisticated network to defeat a criminal network,' Deputy Commandant for Operations VADM Daniel Abel said in a news conference. The news release also stated: 'The Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement along with allied and international partner agencies play a role in counter-drug operations.  The cutter Tampa even participated in the first joint boarding in recent memory between the United States and Ecuador. The fight against transnational organized crime networks in the Eastern Pacific and the Caribbean Basin requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring, and interdictions, to prosecutions by U.S. Attorneys in Florida, California, New York, the Gulf Coast, Puerto Rico, and elsewhere.
  • The Georgia mother of a teen who recently overdosed after vaping THC wax is speaking out, hoping other kids and parents become aware of the danger. THC is the active ingredient in cannabis. >> Read more trending news Lacey Turner, of Butts County, wants to spare other parents the anguish that she and her son Bailey went through. Turner told WSB-TV her son could barely keep his eyes open and his blood pressure was dangerously low at the time of the incident. “When I pulled up to the school, they were loading Bailey on the ambulance,' Turner said. Turner described the harrowing day in January when paramedics rushed her 16-year-old son to the hospital. She said he collapsed after taking a single hit of THC vaping wax, provided by a friend, in the high school cafeteria. 'He continued to vomit in the bathroom and passed out until someone came in and found him,” Turner said. After arriving at the hospital emergency room, the teen was still unconscious and had an extremely fast heartbeat and low blood pressure. 'Cognitively, he was completely disassociated. You pretty much had to slap him and get him to open his eyes,' Turner said. Turner, a nurse, first thought her son had overdosed on opioids, and so did the emergency room doctors. They administered an overdose reversing drug. “They gave him a shot of Narcan -- absolutely no change,' Turner said. Urine and blood tests told another story. “He was negative for anything in his system, except THC,' Turner said. Schools in metro Atlanta have reported students falling ill after vaping THC or synthetic THC. Turner believes the high potency is the problem. “This form of marijuana can be 85 to 90 percent concentrated with THC,” Turner said. The mother is thankful her son has fully recovered, but thoughts of what could have happened still haunt her. “My son could have passed out there in the bathroom, hit his head on the toilet on the way down and died of blunt force trauma,” Turner said. Turner said that when she posted her son's story on Facebook, she got responses from kids and parents across the country who had had the same experience.
  • A Florida man is facing child sex abuse charges after officials said he paid over $800 on an Uber to bring a teenage girl to Apopka. >> Read more trending news Police said 25-year-old Richard Brown raped the 17-year-old girl in his parents' home over the course of several days. The two met over Instagram after he told the victim that he was a 19-year-old Instagram celebrity and that he would 'take care of her.' The victim told Apopka police that Brown paid for an Uber to drive her from San Antonio, Texas, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In Louisiana, she got into another Uber that dropped her off in Apopka on Sunday. Brown would later show police receipts showing the second part of the trip that amounted to over $800. According to arrest documents, Brown told police he was 'only friends' with the victim and thought that she was of age and 'in need of a place to stay.' One neighbor couldn't believe the accusations. 'You might never know about it and now the cops are here,' said Amanda Trail. 'That's crazy for the parents.' The victim said once she realized Brown wasn't 19 or 'Instagram famous' that she wanted to go home. Brown then allegedly told her, 'no you owe me now for bringing you all the way here.' She later told officials that she escaped on Wednesday when Brown fell asleep and while she was on Snapchat with her mother. Police would locate her near Ustler and Wekiwa Preserve Drive, but said she wasn't able to point out which home belonged to the victim or what his name was on social media.  Brown's attorney took issue with the story, citing 'several inconsistencies.' Brown faces six felony counts of child sex abuse. 
  • A jury has acquitted Michael Rosfeld Friday night in the trial of the white former police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teen fleeing a high-stakes traffic stop outside Pittsburgh. >> WPXI LIVE UPDATES: Michael Rosfeld Trial Rosfeld was charged with homicide for shooting Antwon Rose Jr. during a traffic stop last June. Rose was riding in an unlicensed taxi that had been involved in a drive-by shooting when Rosfeld pulled the car over and shot the 17-year-old in the back, arm and side of the face as he ran away. The panel of seven men and five women — including three black jurors — saw video of the fatal confrontation, which showed Rose falling to the ground after being hit. The acquittal came after fewer than four hours of deliberations on the fourth day of the trial. The Rose family’s attorney, S. Lee Merritt, had urged a murder conviction, saying before closing arguments that it’s “pretty obvious” Rose was not a threat to Rosfeld. Rose’s death — one of many high-profile killings of black men and teens by white police officers in recent years — spurred protests in the Pittsburgh area last year, including a late-night march that shut down a major highway. The Associated Press contributed to this report.