Kim Dameron will not be returning next year as the head coach of the Eastern football team.
The athletic department announced on Nov. 18 that Dameron’s contract would not be renewed, bringing an end to his five-year tenure as head coach.
After a 48-41 loss to Murray State in October Dameron said, “We either got to get better coaching or we have got to get better players, one of the two,” and it appears now the resolution to that statement has been made.
The Panthers struggled this season and finished with a 3-8 overall record (3-5 OVC), marking the worst record Dameron saw in his five seasons. Dameron was 27-30 overall at Eastern.
Struggles on the defensive side of the ball this season were what doomed the Panthers and probably cost Dameron his job.
Eastern gave up 40-plus points in six games this season and finished second-to-last in the OVC allowing 40.5 points per game.
The Eastern defense finished second-to-last in touchdowns surrendered (55), yards per play (6.4) and rushing yards allowed (2379).
Dameron’s final season included four losses which came by one score or less as time and time again, the Panthers struggled to close out games late.
In an interview with Justin Rust of the Journal Gazette-Time Courier Dameron made it clear that his three-win season did not do him any favors, but still he was left “baffled”.
“The thing that baffles me is that my winning percentage in the OVC the last five years is about 60 percent, which is identical to Jason Simpson at UT Martin,” Dameron said to the JG-TC. “Now my winning percentage out of conference wasn’t good. But we all know when you play two Missouri Valley schools, especially Illinois State every year, that’s tough. In the past, Eastern Illinois used to play them in the first round of the playoffs and very rarely got out of the first round.”
The losses to the Missouri Valley schools were two of the tougher ones for Eastern to swallow this season.
The Panthers traveled to Illinois State in week two to play the Redbirds for the 107th time and were dealt an embarrassing 48-10 loss.
Eastern followed that game with a 55-41 loss to Indiana State in the Panthers home opener.
Both games were difficult losses for Eastern to handle as Illinois State and Indiana State are both local non-conference rivals that essentially play Eastern for bragging rights and school pride.
Both losses were humbling blows to Eastern early in the season.
Dameron was 1-4 against Illinois State in his five seasons.
A national search for Eastern’s next head coach began immediately after Dameron’s non-renewal according to the athletic department.
JJ Bullock can be reached at 581-2812 or email@example.com
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