As you likely know, the Ferris football team made it to the National Championship game Saturday, Dec. 15.
The rise in success of the football team has only come around the last seven years. No doubt that some years have been weaker than others, but the last time the football team lost more than four games was 2011.
How has the team stayed so successful? The players come and go, but one common denominator stays the same: our beloved head coach, Tony Annese.
When Annese became the head coach at Ferris, the team was used to losing. Annese knew that those standards were not going to be good enough for him, and he has since completely changed the program.
Rumors that Annese might leave for a Division I school are flying, but there are some reasons he should stay with the Bulldogs.
- Ready for DI?: He has only had the Division I experience once. Back in the 2013 season, Annese took the team out to North Dakota State University (Fargo, North Dakota) to get the experience of playing at a Division I level. The team only put up ten points in a 56-10 result, and even though Annese wasn’t completely at fault for the results, maybe he isn’t ready to go Division I.
- Family: That word has always been important to Annese and has come up repeatedly when he talks about his team. He sees his team as one big family and has stated multiple times how “you don’t give up on family.” Knowing that his team is so close, why would he want to leave them, instead of helping them build into the best that they can?
- Player Development: It’s known that some of the players on the team don’t have the best past. Some of them have criminal backgrounds but have managed to turn their life around, and some would say that Annese played a big part in their development as people. Since he has helped the players so much, it would be heartbreaking for them to see him go.
- Legacy: He started out coaching at Muskegon High School and then went to Grand Rapids Community College before ending up at Ferris. Division I is another step above that, and even though Annese has definitely left his mark at Ferris, there would be a lot of rebuilding to do for a new school. Even though has had so much success at Ferris within seven years, think of the legacy he could build here if he were to stay another decade. A struggling Division I team would take a lot more time to change when he has already built a program at Ferris.
- Still work to do: Annese has already made his mark at Ferris and changed the program into this successful, dominating football program. Especially since they didn’t come out of this season with a ring, Annese might want to see what more he could do. He could still bring home the first football championship ever for our university, and think of the recruits he can bring in with that accolade. The program coud have so much success going off of this season and living out his dynasty until the end would be something for the books.
With all the thoughts of Annese staying at Ferris and the Bulldogs becoming even more of a Division II powerhouse, we just have to understand what Annese has done. He took a team with a losing record and within just seven years has made them one of the best in Division II. A career as a Division I head coach would be amazing and would get some respect, but it’s pretty safe to say Bulldog football would not be the same without Annese.
For coverage on the NCAA Division II National Championship, click here.