In Part II of my Q&A with Central Michigan coach Dan Enos, the first-year head coach talks about expectations and his team’s resolve to prove that they are more than a one-man show.
When you come into a program that’s had a lot of success, but loses a guy like Dan LeFevour, who had his own billboard at Ford Field, is it one of those situations where you’ve got a fanbase, boosters, stuff like that who understand that this is going to be a process? Or is it one of those situations where you feel like it’s, well, we won the conference three of the last four years, we better do it again?
DE: It’s a little bit of both. This has been a tradition-rich program for many years and I think there’s a lot of reasons for that. I think the administration here gets it. I think it’s an outstanding school with a great reputation in the Midwest. And I think it’s in a perfect place for us to recruit where we’re located. So, I think there are a lot of reasons why it’s been successful here. We feel very confident that we can continue to win at the level that they had been winning and we’d like to take it even further. But I will say that, yes, I think people around here are accustomed to winning and they do expect us to win at a high level. That’s the precedent and that’s the bar that’s been set.
Sometimes teams get better when a star player leaves because they know that they have to rally around his departure. Do you see anything like that happening with your team?
DE: I think they’re rallying around the fact that people are going to be gunning for us. When you get on top like this program has, winning three of the last four MAC championships, you now become the hunted. It’s been unbelievable and I’ve talked to our coaches, we’ve worked them extremely hard this offseason and there’s no complacency in them. They want to continue to get better. They’re soaking up every thing that we’re throwing at them and they’re very eager to prove that this is an outstanding football program. There’s not one coach or one player or anything that is above this program. This program has been successful because it’s been a team effort and I know our players understand that and our coaching staff understands that as well.
How was it winning the guys over especially after they lost coach Jones right after winning the conference title? We’re you able to smooth things over a bit?
DE: I don’t know if I’ve won them over. They don’t tell me that. I know this: I’m just myself. I was told a long time ago in this profession by people I very much respect and care about that you should always be yourself and lead within your own leadership style. So, I’ve been myself and our coaching staff has been themselves and all I can say is that we’ve had outstanding effort and attitude from our players. I don’t know if I’ve smoothed things over, but they’ve bought in to what we’re doing and they’re a hungry group of guys that just want to continue to win. They want to be coaches and I can’t say enough about how they’ve responded.
How hard is it to separate this team from Dan LeFevour? Dan has been the identity for so long. How do you assure these guys that they can win without him?
DE: I don’t think we’ll have to say that. I think our football team understands that they didn’t win 12 games last year because of Dan. Dan was a huge part of it. He was very productive and he provided outstanding leadership, but there were a lot of other people involved. Football is the consummate team game and one guy cannot win or lose a game by himself. It’s coaches and players that get it done. I don’t have to say anything to our players. I can tell by their mindset and the way they’re working that they’re very eager to get going this next fall. I think they have a chip on their shoulder and they’re eager to show that this wasn’t a one-man team. This was a lot of guys and there’s a lot of really good football players in this program. They take a lot of pride in being successful and winning games. Our guys expect to win. That’s the great thing about coming into a program that’s been successful. We don’t have to change the culture that way. They expect to win.