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Former Michigan players among the names to watch for EMU head coach opening

Eastern Michigan coach Ron English was fired last week after audio of an expletive-filled locker room tirade went public, and AD Heather Lyke has said she would like to have a replacement for English in place by Christmas.

Detroit Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher (Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)

Detroit Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher (Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)

Whoever gets the job will have their work cut out for them. English went 11-46 in his five seasons at EMU, and the Eagles haven’t won a MAC championship since 1987.

One name to keep an eye on is current Detroit Cass Tech High head coach Thomas Wilcher.

Wilcher played running back at Michigan under Bo Schembechler from 1983-86, and has been the the head coach at Cass Tech for 16 seasons. His teams have won two straight state titles and will be going for a third this month.

Despite the program’s struggles, Wilcher says the EMU job looks appealing.

“You can win at Eastern Michigan,” he told the Detroit News. “Sure, you’re behind the eight ball since you’ve lost so many years, but you just have to have a change in attitude.”

Wilcher, a former Michigan running back, has developed tremendous talent at Cass Tech, including one of the premier players in the nation this year in defensive back Damon Webb, who has committed to Ohio State, and linebacker Deon Drake, a Michigan State commitment. Quarterback Jayru Campbell, a junior, has also committed to Michigan State.

The timing could be right for Wilcher to make a move out of the high school ranks.

“I have thought about it. Yes, I would be interested in coaching college,” he said. “I’ve been head coach here at Cass Tech for 16 years and love what I do, but there are times where I think I need a different challenge.

“I wouldn’t have to be a head coach either. I’d just want to be in a coaching job where I could help the program win.”

Another pair of former Michigan players are among those likely to receive consideration.

Former Wolverines running back Tyrone Wheatley, currently the running backs coach for the Buffalo Bills, and ex-Michigan quarterback Scot Loeffler, now offensive coordinator at Virginia Tech, are also thought to be potential candidates.

Wheatley has stated on numerous occasions that his goal was to come home and be a Division 1 head coach. He was asked by the Detroit News on Saturday if he was interested in the EMU opening, and his response was emphatic.

“Like I told you back in January, I would love to come home and be a head coach of a Division 1 college football program,” he said

Loeffler, who played quarterback at Michigan from 1993-96, started his career as a GA on Lloyd Carr’s 1997 national championship team.

Following brief stints at Central Michigan, with the Detroit Lions and at Florida, Loeffler was hired as offensive coordinator at Temple in 2011. He joined Gene Chizik’s staff at Auburn in 2012 before being fired with the rest of the staff at the end of the season.

Other names mentioned as possibilities for EMU include Wayne State head coach Paul Winters, Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chuck Martin, Northern Iowa head coach Mark Farley, former Miami (Ohio) head coach Mike Haywood, and former Western Michigan coach and current Illinois offensive coordinator Bill Cubit.

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