Eastern Illinois Panthers football

The Eastern Illinois Panthers football program is the intercollegiate American football team for Eastern Illinois University located in the U.S. state of Illinois. The team competes in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and are members of the Ohio Valley Conference. The school's first football team was fielded in 1899. The team plays its home games at the 10,000 seat O'Brien Field, which is named after head coach Maynard O'Brien.

Eastern Illinois Panthers football
2019 Eastern Illinois Panthers football team
First season1899
Athletic directorTom Michael
Head coachAdam Cushing
1st season, 1–11 (.083)
StadiumO'Brien Field
(Capacity: 10,000
Record: 12,600)
Year built1970
Field surfaceArtificial Turf
LocationCharleston, Illinois
NCAA divisionDivision I FCS
ConferenceOhio Valley Conference
Past conferencesIIAC (1912–1969)
AMCU (1978–1984)
GCAC (1985–1991)
GFC (1992–1995)
All-time record55854642 (.505)
Bowl record01 (.000)
Playoff appearances16 (Div. I FCS)
1982, 1983, 1986, 1989, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2015
2 (Div. II)
1978, 1980
Playoff record4–16 (Div. I FCS)
5–1 (Div. II)
Claimed nat'l titles1 – (Div. II): 1978
Conference titles19
1912, 1913, 1914, 1928, 1948, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1995, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2012, 2013
RivalriesIllinois State (rivalry)
ColorsBlue and Gray[1]
Fight songEastern State March
MascotBilly the Panther
Marching bandPanther Marching Band




Conference memberships


National championships

Eastern Illinois has won one national championship, doing so in 1978. They also made an appearance in the Division II National Championship Game in 1980, losing 13–21 to Cal Poly.

Year Selector Coach Record Opponent Score
1978Division IIDarrell Mudra12–2Delaware10–9

Conference championships

Season Conference Coach Overall Record Conference Record
1912Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic ConferenceCharles Lantz6–14–0
1913Charles Lantz6–25–1
1914Charles Lantz8–0–15–0–1
1928Charles Lantz7–15–1
1948Maynard O'Brien7–34–0
1980Association of Mid-Continent Universities Darrell Mudra11–34–0
1981Darrell Mudra6–52–1
1982Darrell Mudra11–1–12–0–1
1983Al Molde9–33–0
1984Al Molde6–52–1
1986Gateway Collegiate Athletic ConferenceAl Molde11–25–1
1995†Gateway Football ConferenceBob Spoo10–25–1
2001Ohio Valley ConferenceBob Spoo9–26–0
2002†Bob Spoo8–45–1
2005Bob Spoo9–38–0
2006Mark Hutson8–57–1
2009Bob Spoo8–46–2
2012Dino Babers7–56–1
2013Dino Babers12–28–0

† Co-champion

Playoffs and Bowls

I-AA/FCS Playoffs

YearFirst Round Home TeamFirst Round Away TeamQuarterfinal HomeQuarterfinal Away
1982 OTEastern Illinois16Jackson Tigers13Tennessee State20Eastern Illinois19
1983 2OTIndiana State16Eastern Illinois13
1986Eastern Illinois28Murray State21Eastern Illinois22Eastern Kentucky24
1989Idaho21Eastern Illinois38Montana25Eastern Illinois19
1995Stephen F. Austin34Eastern Illinois29
1996Northern Iowa21Eastern Illinois14
2000Montana45Eastern Illinois13
2001Eastern Illinois43Northern Iowa49
2002Western Illinois48Eastern Illinois9
2005Eastern Illinois6Southern Illinois21
2006Eastern Illinois13Illinois State24
2007Southern Illinois30Eastern Illinois11
2009Southern Illinois48Eastern Illinois7
2012South Dakota State58Eastern Illinois10
2013Eastern Illinois51Tennessee State10Eastern Illinois39Towson49
2015Northern Iowa53Eastern Illinois17


Eastern Illinois has participated in one bowl game, going 0–1.

Season Coach Bowl Opponent Result
1948Maynard O'BrienCorn BowlIllinois WesleyanL 0–6

All-time record vs. current OVC teams

Official record (including any NCAA imposed vacates and forfeits) against all current OVC opponents as of the completion of the 2018 season.[3]

Opponent Won Lost Pct. First meeting
Austin Peay 15 4 .789 1958
Eastern Kentucky 12 14 .462 1947
Jacksonville State 6 10 .375 2003
Murray State 19 15 .559 1946
Southeast Missouri State 18 8 .692 1956
UT Martin 15 9 .625 1995
Tennessee State 15 8 .652 1982
Tennessee Tech 19 6 .760 1975
Totals 119 73 .620 8 opponents


Illinois State

The Mid-America Classic is the rivalry game between Illinois State and Eastern Illinois. The rivalry began in 1901 and is the oldest in the state of Illinois. With the 100th game in the series, representatives from both schools met and developed the Mid-America Classic renaming for the rivalry. The two schools also collaborated on a traveling trophy, which holds plaques with the results of the previous 100 games in the series and has room for results of future games in the series.[4] The two teams have played 108 times in total, with Illinois State holding a 57–42–9 advantage in the all-time series as of the end of the 2019 season.

Individual accomplishments

1st Team All Americans

Selectors: AP-Associated Press, AFCA-American Football Coaches Association, FBG-FB Gazette, SN-Sports Network, WC-Walter Camp Football Foundation[5][6]

Player Year Organization
Nate Anderson 1972 AFCA
Ted Petersen 1976 AP
James Warring 1978 AP, AFCA
Pete Catan 1979, 1980 AP, AFCA
Poke Cobb 1979 AP, AFCA
Kevin Gray 1981 AFCA
Robert Williams 1982, 1983 AP, AFCA
Bob Norris 1982 AP
Chris Nicholson 1983 AP
Jerry Wright 1984 AFCA
Roy Banks 1986 AP, AFCA
John Jurkovic 1988, 1989 AP, AFCA, SN
Tim Lance 1990 AP, SN, WC
Dan Dee 1992 WC, SN
Tim Carver 1995 FBG
Willie High 1995 FBG
J.R. Taylor 2002 AP, FBG, SN, WC
Nick Ricks 2002 AP, FBG, SN
Kevin Hill 2002 FBG, SN, WC
Tony Romo 2002 AP, AFCA, SN, WC
Clint Sellers 2005 AFCA, FBG
Tristan Burge 2006 AFCA
Erik Lora[7] 2012, 2013 AP, AFCA, SN, WC
Jimmy Garoppolo 2013 AP, AFCA, SN, WC
Collin Seibert[8] 2013, 2014 AP, AFCA, SN, WC
Dino Fanti[9] 2015 AFCA

Award winners

  • Walter Payton Award finalists
    Tim Lance - 1990...3rd
    Willie High - 1994...15th
    Tony Romo - 2000...11th
    Tony Romo - 2001...10th
    Jimmy Garoppolo - 2012...10th
    Erik Lora - 2012...4th
    Erik Lora - 2013...7th
    Alexander Hollins - 2018...21st

College Football Hall of Fame members

Eastern Illinois has one inductee in the College Football Hall of Fame.[10]

Name Position Years Inducted
Darrell MudraCoach1978–19822000

Retired Numbers

No. Player Position Career Date of Retirement Ref.
17Tony RomoQB1999–2002October 17, 2009[11]
18Sean PaytonQB1983–1986September 11, 2010[12]

Future non-conference opponents

Announced schedules as of October 22, 2019.[13]

2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026
vs Indiana State vs Illinois State at Northern Illinois at Indiana State vs Indiana State at Indiana State vs Indiana State
at Illinois State at Mississippi State at Chattanooga at Illinois State at Illinois
at Kentucky at South Carolina

Notable former players

Notable alumni include the following.


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