Southeast football season followed the pattern

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Southeast Missouri State football team concluded another losing season Saturday with a tough 42-35 defeat at Murray State.

Southeast finishing below .500 should be absolutely no surprise, despite the breakthrough 2010 campaign that saw the Redhawks win the program's first Ohio Valley Conference title and capture the program's first playoff berth on any level.

Save for the occasional -- very occasional -- strong season, Southeast, which for the second straight year went 3-8 overall and a seventh-place 2-6 in the nine-team OVC, has consistently lagged toward the bottom of the conference standings.

The program has had just three winning records -- all under different coaches -- since moving up to the Football Championship Subdivision in 1991. That's 19 losing seasons. And in only two of those 19 years has Southeast posted more than four victories.

Coincidentally, Southeast's winning records since making the jump to what used to be known at Division I-AA have all been eight years apart.

John Mumford led Southeast to a 7-5 season in 1994 -- tied for third in the OVC at 5-3 -- but he couldn't sustain the momentum and was dismissed after the 1999 campaign. His nine-year FCS record: 33-67 overall and 25-43 in the OVC.

Tim Billings directed Southeast to an 8-4 season in 2002 -- tied for third in the OVC at 4-2 -- but he also couldn't sustain things and was let go after the 2005 campaign. His six year record: 25-43 overall and 16-27 in the OVC.

Tony Samuel was the architect of that historic 9-3 season in 2010 -- the Redhawks won the OVC title with a 7-1 mark -- but Southeast has sagged since. His seven-year record: 28-51 overall and 17-38 in the OVC.

Samuel has three years remaining on the five-year contract he signed after leading Southeast to its 2010 success, so I don't think he's in danger of being let go any time soon, nor do I think he should be.

Samuel is, like Mumford and Billings, a good man. And I believe Samuel, like the other two, is a quality coach.

I don't think Southeast has had the bad luck of hiring three incompetent coaches to lead the football program on the FCS level.

What I do believe is that, for whatever reasons -- there are plenty of theories -- it's extremely tough to win in football at Southeast. The records back that up.

And if past history is a guide, the Redhawks' next winning season will be in 2018 -- eight years after their incredible 2010 campaign.

Southeast fans can only hope they won't have to wait that long.

Even though this season was a tough one, the Southeast football team will be losing many of its top players so 2013 figures to pose more major challenges.

The Redhawks had 23 seniors, including 13 starters, their kicker and their long snapper.

Southeast will have to replace, among many others, 1,349-yard rusher Levi Terrell and All-American linebacker Blake Peiffer, who recorded more than 100 tackles for the second straight year.

Other senior starters were three offensive linemen, the tight end, all four defensive linemen, another linebacker and both safeties.

Southeast, in addition to losing Terrell's production, loses its top four tacklers and players who accounted for eight of the squad's 13 interceptions.

It was great seeing McNeese State assistant men's basketball coach David Dumars when his team played Southeast on Thursday at the Show Me Center. We had a nice visit after the Redhawks' 64-53 victory.

Dumars joined the basketball coaching ranks after spending 11 seasons as a football assistant at Southeast from 1989 through 1999.

I got to know Dumars quite well when he was in Cape Girardeau, not only through his coaching job but because we were both regular participants in the same pickup basketball games at the Student Recreation Center that featured quite a few members of Southeast's football coaching staff.

Although Dumars played football in college -- and later in the CFL -- he could also hoop pretty darn good. That's not surprising considering his athletic ability and the fact he is the older brother of basketball Hall of Famer Joe Dumars.

I'll have much more on Southeast men's basketball in the future, but so far I have been impressed by the Redhawks -- especially 6-foot-8, 230-pound forwards Tyler Stone and Nino Johnson, who are off to dominant starts and just might form the OVC's top front line.

The Redhawks appear to possess the talent and cohesion for a strong season although they don't have much depth, and that might not be a factor if they can avoid further injury.

Plenty of teams have thrived with a short rotation, with last year's Missouri squad being a perfect example.

There is an especially intriguing prospect among Southeast's four early women's basketball signees last week.

Jade Holly, a senior guard at Columbia (Mo.) Hickman High School, was rated among the nation's top 50 freshmen before suffering a torn ACL that forced her to miss that entire season.

Holly also missed her junior campaign with a torn ACL, and major programs stopped recruiting her.

Southeast is getting a player with plenty of talent and potential, but she must stay healthy.

Southeast is expected to make the official announcement of two early men's basketball signings any day. The university is finalizing all the necessary paperwork.

Martavian Payne, a 6-foot-2 senior combo guard at College Preparatory High School in St. Louis, and 6-4 wing Darrian Gray from Lake Land (Ill.) Community College, have committed to the Redhawks.

Marty Mishow is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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