Central’s had better days

AD Michael Alford and TE Tony Poljan both announce their respective decisions to leave CMU Wednesday.

First, news broke that Central Michigan Michael Alford athletic director would be leaving the program for a big job at Florida State. Then, tight end Tony Poljan tweeted out that he’s in the transfer portal. Two very different departures for two very different goals in mind, but that’s one heck of an unpleasant day for Central fans.

Alford wasn’t at CMU very long. Shortly after he arrived in 2017, he gave Jon Bonamego a contract extension. Eleven months later, after the worst offensive season in the history of Central Michigan football, Alford promptly fired Bonamego and replaced him with Jim McElwain of all people. The 2019 season was whacky for many reasons outside of CMU’s control, but the Chippewas still made it to the MAC title game under a first-year head coach (7-game improvement), and five other West division schools still had to sit there and watch.

Alford left CMU to be the CEO of Seminole Boosters, Inc. — the second-ever CEO for the group (founded 1975). CMU was already working on a $100-million fundraising plan to get intense facility upgrades by the time Alford was brought in, and he helped the department reach that goal by February 2019. The football team also got a new state-of-the-art video board. CMU got a new deal with Adidas which apparently increased revenue by 600%. Alford had experience with Oklahoma and Alabama and the Dallas Cowboys when he came to Central; it always felt like this would be the trajectory for him.

Alford leaves for a great job that he’s more than qualified for, but he’s still leaving CMU during a global health crisis, which will certainly leave CMU (and others in the conference) financially struggling. One of his final moves was to cut the men’s track team. In doing so, he needed to get a waiver passed for football to stay FBS eligible for the next two school years, or until CMU adds a sixth men’s sports team again. While Alford certainly didn’t choose the pandemic, it’s quite the situation to leave behind for the next AD to figure out.

On the whole, it seems like Alford was an awesome hire from Central’s perspective. Maybe not the best timing in the world for this fanbase to receive this kind of news, but that new job seems like a once-in-lifetime opportunity for him.

Poljan ended up playing tight end last year, but came to Central because Bonamego offered him to join as a quarterback. Other schools offered Poljan to play TE because that’s what they thought he’d be better at. (They were right.)

As a passer through the 2017 and 2018 seasons, Poljan was 89 of 168 (53%) for 708 yards (4.2 yards/att.) with two touchdowns and five interceptions. On the ground, he had 91 rush attempts for 248 yards (2.7 avg.) and two scores.

Last year as he made the full-time move to TE for the best: 33 receptions, 496 yards, and four TD. Would’ve been cool to see what his career could’ve looked like if he would’ve been just a TE from the start of college, but he’s looking to make his final year special somewhere else.

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