OUR VIEW: Good luck to the Flashes

meeting with northern Illinois marks incredible turning point

Published:

When the coin is flipped

and either Kent State's Golden Flashes or Northern Illinois Huskies kicks off tonight in Detroit, the event will mark the end of a 40-year drought in the football fortunes of Kent State University.

Except for the era of legendary Coach Don James, no Golden Flash team has captured a title of any kind. The James Gang won the MidAmerican Conference championship outright in 1972 and tonight that is what Kent State will once more seek to accomplish.

Some of the impoverishment in the Flashes football record of the past 40 years may have been self-inflicted. Kent State passed on hiring as head football coach Nick Saban and Gary Pinkel, both alumni of the 1972 MidAmerican Conference championship team. Both have become two of the most successful college football coaches in the nation, Saban coaching at Alabama, the current defending national championship team, Pinkel, head coach of Missouri, a major national Division I football program.

In the 1980s, Glenn Mason coached Kent State to two winning seasons, but he then quickly departed for a bigger program, in Kansas.With his departure, the team from 1989 until 2000 chalked up a record of 16 wins against 115 losses and one tie. After that, Head Coach Dean Pees led the Flashes to one winning season in 2001 with six wins and five losses. Football great Joshua Cribbs, now with the Cleveland Browns, was quarterbacking. Under Head Coach Doug Martin, who followed Pees, the team posted a 6-6 season in 2006.

It has taken the arrival of Head Coach Darrell Hazell for the team's fortunes to soar. Last year, the Flashes under his mentoring posted a 5-7 record, but the five victories came in succession as the season wound down. It pointed to better days ahead and this year, the Flashes have posted an 11-1 record, its best season ever as they captured the East Division crown of the MidAmerican Conference by defeating Bowling Green at Doyte Perry Stadium on Nov. 17. They then continued their winning ways by besting last year's MidAmerican Conference Championship Team, the Ohio University Bobcats, Nov. 22 in a home finale.

The team has jelled with a solid front line blocking for quarterback Spencer Keith, a senior pre-med major, and running greats Dri Archer, a junior, and sophomore Trayion Durham. Its defense has become spectacular in recent games with players such as Luke Wollet, Roosevelt Nix and others.

The Northern Illinois Huskies, who own the crown of the Western Division of the MidAmerican Conference, also have some great strengths, notably quarterback Chandler Harnish, and they are a well coached team, but the Flashes are going into the game the favorites, ranked 18th in the BCS standings, a record never before achieved by Kent State.

Coach Hazell, his coaching staff and members of the team, arguably the best ever in the history of Kent State football, have earned the community's congratulations and support. Hopes soar for a favorable outcome tonight and, perhaps, a prestigious Bowl game to follow. It's time to shout it out: Go Flashes!

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.