The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

Spoo not looking to rebuild

Bob Spoo doesn’t like to hear the “R” word.

Well, at least he doesn’t like to hear the one that is usually reserved for teams that are losing a large group of seniors.

“I don’t want this year to be a rebuilding year,” said Eastern’s head coach during his end-of-year press conference Tuesday. “I want this to be a year when we reload and get after it again.”

The Panthers have four wide receivers, three offensive linemen and four defensive backs graduating after finishing the season 8-5, including their second consecutive first-round playoff exit.

Although Spoo said he was hoping to go deeper in the playoffs, he still praised the coaching staff, which had to deal with more off-the-field issues than Spoo is used to.

“It’s been the most unusual season I’ve ever been through,” he said. “I’m extremely proud of my coaching staff, the way they handle things.”

The negative events began before the regular season even began.

In late August, the Panthers announced Spoo would miss four to six weeks after undergoing surgery for a still undisclosed medical reason.

It was announced at the time that assistant head coach Mark Hutson would take over the head-coaching duties.

Spoo’s illness was often the target of speculation but he said his health continues to improve.

“I’m feeling better every day,” he said. “I’m glad to be back in the swing of things, particularly at this time of the year.”

When Eastern finally made it onto the field, it didn’t take long for things to look even bleaker. Linebacker and Buck Buchanan Award candidate Clint Sellers injured his left shoulder on the season’s opening kickoff against Illinois on Sept. 2.

“It was one of the great tragedies in football,” Spoo said. “There’s a guy that if you want to find an individual at the top of his game and in the best of health, it just goes to show you how quickly things can happen in the game of football.”

Spoo said the operation weakened him but his return to the press box for the latter part of the Panthers season helped him cope with his health.

“It was good to be just around the environment and get a feel for what was going on and be able to be with the coaches,” he said. “It was something that I missed tremendously.”

Even though Spoo went through health problems and missed an entire season for the first time in his 20-year career, he still says he is ready to keep on going.

“I do feel competitive,” he said. “I think those juices are still running deep in me. Whether it’s one year or five more years, (Eastern’s administration said) I would keep going.”

He said the official announcement of his return should help in the recruitment process and other schools that are recruiting against Eastern no longer have that as a tool.

But he said it probably wouldn’t stop other schools from trying.

“They will continue to, I’m sure, make comments. ‘Well, he’s on his last legs,'” Spoo said. “I assure you I am not.”

Spoo not looking to rebuild

Spoo not looking to rebuild

Jay Grabiec/The Daily Eastern News Head football coach Bob Spoo answers questions in his office during a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.


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