By Darren Zancan

What is success? Is it making it to the playoffs or is it just simply winning the game you are playing?In college sports, success could be defined in many ways. Technically, winning is not always the key to success.

It’s how you build the program that leads to success, in my opinion.

Some professional teams use money to rise against others. While other teams, like the Tampa Bay Rays, use their homegrown talent.

Some colleges have more assets than others, which make them more appealing. If they have all the weapons to recruit, they most likely will find great success. Other programs have to be more creative, since they are not the Dukes, Floridas and Texas’s of the college world.

Interestingly enough, it might take programs years to become successful, yet they know the plan all along. We may not see it until all the pieces are in place.

This past weekend Jacksonville State beat the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) in football. I would think, beating a team in the SEC, would count as successful. Now, how they move forward will dictate any long or short-term success.

If that game resembles how the rest of the season pans out for Jacksonville State, then the Ohio Valley Conference should be on watch.

That brings me to Eastern.

Each program has a different definition of success. Cross-country has been successful for years, so how do they raise the bar and find new challenges? Is winning 10 seasons in a row successful? Consistency has a lot to do with success.

I believe the biggest form of success can be found in recruiting. Coaches have a certain player they look for. They have needs they have to fill. One player graduates, so those shoes have to be filled with someone else.

It’s not just in the big programs, like football, but more so in the smaller programs where it is more important. In football you have possibly two or three backups who are ready to step in. What about volleyball, for instance? Sometimes there might not be two or three people to step in and be ready.

Recruiting is a valuable tool. Coach Lori Duncan recruited Amanda Fago. Fago had offers to other places to play. There wasn’t a scholarship available for Fago right away. But the pieces fell into place. Fago came back for another visit and a scholarship opened up. It was meant to be.

She, at some point, has been a part of a game that the team won. Even if it is short-term success, short-term achievements are like a good tasting sandwich. They make you want more. They make you come back for another bite. Yeah I know, I just referenced a sandwich, but it’s that simple. It makes you hungry and motivates you for more.

If Coach Dean Hood continues to recruit and build his team, like he has, they can be the next football team to beat down a larger D1 team.maybe Louisville.

All it takes is a formula. Sometimes the formula shifts. But the key to success lies within the walls of the program and how every person involved contributes.

Eastern seems to have that formula.