Tim Lester’s first game as the WMU head coach saw his team actually hold their own against the fourth ranked USC Trojans for three quarters and then completely collapse during the final 15 minutes, leading many to believe that Lester will bring his “toying with expectations and emotions” strategy to Saturday’s game against Michigan State.
While many fans and students walked away from this game disappointed with their first regular season loss since 2015, Lester looks at this game as a success because it gave everyone false hope that the winning under the Fleck-era will continue.
“When I took this job at WMU, I told myself that I would try my hardest to blatantly lie to everyone and make them think that I can keep the winning culture that P.J. established,” Lester said. “I’d say I did a pretty good job of that Saturday.”
Though nobody expected the Broncos to take down a PAC-12 powerhouse, Lester wanted to make sure that his team stayed in it long enough to make those back in Kalamazoo think, “Hey, maybe they can pull this upset off after all.”
“I thought maybe, just maybe, we could have another 13-0 season or at least 11-2,” said Chris Stewart, a senior at WMU, after watching the game. “All we have to look forward now are some 8-4 or 7-5 seasons where we play in some off-brand bowl game in Alabama or Idaho or wherever. It’s the MAC after all.”
Lester thought that he could duplicate the Fleck-era success, but through three quarters of back and forth football, he started to believe otherwise.
“Maybe it was too cruel of me to not call it quits after the half,” Lester said. “If there is one thing that helps me sleep at night, though, it’s getting people’s hopes up and then crushing those hopes with the thousand-pound hammer of reality.”
WMU’s game on Saturday is in East Lansing, where they will take on the Spartans, a team that is coming off one of their worst seasons in nearly ten years. Since the Broncos beat two mediocre Big Ten teams last season, fans are anticipating a close game, if not a loss that comes down to the final seconds.
“Oh boy, am I going to have some fun with this one,” Lester said. “Maybe I’ll have the team fall behind during the first half, make a comeback in the second and fall just short. Or maybe we’ll just play crappier overall and lose worse than we did against USC.
“Regardless of what happens during the game, I know one thing: Bronco fans will be disappointed at the end of it.”
We promise not to toy with your emotions too much in our podcast!