Cushing asserts strong expectations for football program in first press conference


Analicia Haynes

Adam Cushing, the new head coach for the Eastern football team, held a press conference Tuesday to discuss his future at Eastern and the future of the football team.

JJ Bullock, Sports Editor

Eastern’s new head football coach Adam Cushing stamped his name on a declaration stating that not only was Eastern (3-8 last season) going to start winning games again, but that during his time as coach the Panthers would hold up a conference championship and a national championship trophy.  

Cushing made his intentions and visions for Eastern’s football program resoundingly clear during his introductory press conference Monday in Lantz Arena. He not only laid out a plan to recruit stronger in the state of Illinois, particularly in the Chicago area, but also said to the fans, boosters and fellow staff members in attendance that he planned to win the Ohio Valley Conference and the FCS tournament.  

“We are going to keep our priorities in place to focus on our acronym of what’s important now, W-I-N, to win,” Cushing said in his press conference. “If we can focus on what’s important now for the success we want later, we will get the results we desire. As the young men improve in all aspects of their lives, in the class room first, in the weight room, in the EIU and Charleston communities, the wins will come on the football field.” 

“We’re going to win games, we’re going to hold up the OVC trophy and we’re going to hold up the National Championship trophy,” he added. 

Eastern is coming off a 3-8 season, its lowest win total since 2011, so while a conference championship and surely a national championship would seem out of reach in the near future for Eastern, Cushing made it explicitly clear that Eastern “was going to win this year.” 

“We’re going to win on the football field, we’re going to win in the classroom and we’re going to win in the community,” Cushing said. “I am not going to put a number on it because it’s going to be the daily choices of the character, of the commitment to excellence in everything that we do are going to be wins for the program also. We’re going to win off the field just as much as we win on the field. When we win off the field, we are going to consistently win on the field.” 

Turning any program around from a 3-8 record to being a national championship contender will obviously take time and a lot right moves for the program and to hear that claim made from a new head coach in his first press conference is sure to draw as much excitement as it does speculation. But Cushing defended what he said and laid out a plan centered on strong recruiting to bring the program back to national relevancy.  

“I think it’s going to come from recruiting first,” Cushing said. “We’re going to need to go out with a passion and energy and relentlessness. We’re going to have to go out and find great football players that compliment what we have here already, because we have great young men here already.” 

Cushing spent time as Northwestern’s recruiting director and being a native of Chicago, he also plans to focus more on acquiring more in-state talent from that area, something Eastern has not done in recent years.  

“We’re going to start and end our recruiting in what I call the ‘footprint’,” Cushing said. “I think there are an unbelievable amount of young men within a two- or three-hour drive of from here that are exactly the fit that we’re looking for. We’re looking for tough young men that love football. There are so many of those young men in the surrounding cities, and in a very easy drive that are going to be excited to come play for our program.”  

He continued on by stating that he thinks everything in football starts with recruiting followed by hard work.

“I think it’s going to be the work that we put in the off season, the embracing, the improvement, every single day, that discipline in the weight room,” Cushing added. “Because it takes work to get bigger and faster and stronger, but we’re going to put the work in to get ourselves to that place and we’re going to start and end our recruiting in the state of Illinois because there are plenty of players here in the state of Illinois for us to win the Ohio Valley Conference.” 

JJ Bullock can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].