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Wrigley Field Wants Humpday Ball State News and Notes

Wrigley FieldIf you are like me, most of your friends in the business or advertising industry who didn’t end up in Indy ended up in Chicago. For residents of the Windy City or fans the world over of the loveable losers from the Northside, today your Twitter timeline or Facebook newsfeed will be loaded full of celebratory messages for Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of the first baseball game played there today. I think it’s weird to celebrate a building’s “birthday”. A maternal building did not squat down and birth it. No, the Chicago leaders in the fast food of the time and a fish wholesaler brought it to fruition. Two dudes. Wrigley Field had two dads. How progressive! Surprised they didn’t locate the park in Boystown, but I digress.

As a fan of the Yankees and a former resident of the DC/Baltimore corridor, I’ve been quite fortunate to be able to enjoy some modern marvels of ballparks in my time. The new Nationals Stadium and new Yankee Stadium have set the benchmark for innovation, luxury, and amenities, a crown they took from Oriole Park at Camden Yards. But there’s just something about Wrigley Field. Granted, the park itself is a dump, there isn’t plush premium seating options, an outfield sky bar, craft beers throughout, or delicacies like sushi or crab pretzels, but Wrigley is baseball the way baseball was always meant to be.

If my grandfather came back today, he’d just shake his head and walk out of these fancy modern parks with their automation, innovation, and integration. He’d walk out and long for a better day when you wore a fedora to the park, got a good old-fashioned American hot dog made of pig lips and intestines, and had lukewarm American beer. Then he’d go looking for brains to eat because he’d be a zombie if he was out walking around. So there’s that. But happy “birthday” to Wrigley Field. On to the news and notes…

NewsNotesLogoFantastic piece from Ben Breiner at The Star Press about Coach Pete Lembo’s headware decision for Saturday’s Spring Game. Though CPL’s sartorial choices are usually not fodder for press clippings, the connection that he is attempting to foster between the Muncie community is hopefully a long-lasting and productive one. The University town-gown issue won’t be solved by a baseball cap, but any effort is a step in the right direction. (via)

NewsNotesLogoFootball alum Keith Wenning has been quietly building buzz and momentum going into next month’s NFL Draft. Keith is in Cleveland today, working out for the Browns, joining pretty much every top quarterback available for selection. I’ve said all along that I think Keith gets an opportunity on an NFL roster and when all is said and done may be one of BSU’s most long-lasting professionals. It’s all about fit, but no one can argue that Keith isn’t a talented and exceptionally skilled QB.

NewsNotesLogoOn the softball field, Jenny Gilbert continues to romp and stomp through the MAC, winning her fourth Player of the Week honor from the conference and 12th of her career. This season alone, Gilbert has accounted for the winning run in 12 of the 27 victories for the Cards. The softball team swept Ohio over Easter weekend, the same Ohio that leads the MAC. Ball State plays two games against Miami this weekend at home and the conference title is very much in reach. Saturday’s game is at 2pm, Sunday’s at 1pm.

NewsNotesLogoIf you’re a volleyball fan, tonight is a giant night for the men’s volleyball team as they travel to Lewis for MIVA semi-final action. The Cardinals are 22-7, ranked 13th, and have one of the best defenses in the country. The Flyers are 22-6, ranked 11th, and have one of the best offenses in the country. Lewis swept the Cards this season so far, but BSU has a three match win streak in conference tournament play. First serve is at 7pm CT, so be prepared.

NewsNotesLogoIf you are around the Bloomington area tonight I feel sorry for you, but there is hope as the baseball Cards travel to Indiana for a 6:00 tilt tonight. The Cards are 27-13 and I have been told they are remarkably fun to watch. Plus, you get to see the Cardinals beat the Hoosiers in something other than football, so that’s a plus.

NewsNotesLogoMen’s tennis begins the MAC tournament, which they are hosting, on April 25. The Cardinals are the three-seed and will face the second seeded Toledo Rockets. The Cards won the regular season MAC crown in 2013 and last won the tournament in 2011. I’d say they’re due.

NewsNotesLogoFrom the track and field circuit, Ball State’s Courtney Edon was named to the 2014 Indoor Track and Field Academic All-MAC team. She’s a nursing major with a 3.9 GPA which is a difficult task in and of itself. Doing that while running long distances is the definition of accomplishment.

NewsNotesLogoOn the golf course, the Cardinals took second in the Earl Yestingsmeier Memorial Invitational at Delaware Country Club. Toledo won the event, but the Cards put a dent in the lead in the final round, paced by Albert Jennings’ 73. It’s been a while since I’ve played Delaware Country Club, and an even longer time since I shot a 73. I think the exact date of my last one over par was… never.

NewsNotesLogoThe biggest video news of the week, other than OTP’s very own Look Inside the Spring Game, was Joel Godett releasing the below video. It has basically everyone of note in it in regard to athletics and BSU, including Coach Lembo, Bill Scholl, and even President Gora. Enjoy this cover of Macklemore’s Can’t Hold Us and enjoy your humpday.

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[VIDEO] OTP Takes You Inside the Ball State Spring Game

Join Jason and Alan as they take you inside the Ball State Spring Game from Saturday. Game action, crowd shots, Coach Lembo post game, and even some tailgating hotness. It’s like you were there. You’re welcome.

Spring Game Thoughts

Ball State Spring Game

Jack Milas showing off the arm in the BSU Spring Game

MUNCIE – It’s not every Saturday that you can venture out to Scheumann Stadium and have gorgeous spring weather, pads popping, and fans celebrating touchdowns, QB pressure, and deep bombs. You could have enjoyed all that and more this weekend in Muncie as Ball State wrapped up its spring football practice season with the annual rite of passage known as the Spring Game. A modified scoring system, meant to measure all facets of the game, saw the defense defeat the offense by a score of 44-22, surprising no one, confusing most of us in the press box, and perhaps leaving more questions than answers which wasn’t unexpected.

1,356 fans ventured out for the spring game, giving the Cardinals the highest-attended spring game at the time in the MAC. It feels nice to be wrong about attendance for once on the good side of the spectrum, as Jason got the answer of “around 500″ when he asked me on the drive up what I thought the number would be. Kudos to the athletics marketing staff, the team, and the students that stuck around for the chance to watch it. A good portion of the fans were families and local-ites, and that’s always  been sort of the missing subgroups at BSU games. Let’s hope the great weather and good atmosphere drew them in for good.

If you didn’t make it, here’s what my takeaways were for the outing…

  • The biggest strength of the team given today’s performance save for one 71-yard Jack Milas pass was the defensive unit. I can’t say that was a surprise, given the new faces all over the offensive side of the ball, but it was surprising to see such a difference in performance. The offense was held without a touchdown, both passing and rushing were a bit stagnant, and all in all it was a major win and presumable confidence boost for a defensive unit that needs to be the statement unit come fall.
  • As for QB play, my question of the day was whether Jack Milas or Ozzie Mann would get more snaps or passing attempts as who will be QB1 is arguably the biggest battle of the spring. Milas got more passing opportunity, going 10-26 for 144 yards while Mann went 7-12 for 43 yards. In fairness, the aforementioned 71-yarder by Milas meant the numbers are a little skewed. Kyle Kamman and David Morrison also took reps, and all of the four had goods and bads to point to.
  • The running back stable is stocked as well, with Quake Edwards and Teddy Williamson each putting up similar numbers (13 att and 26 yards for Edwards; 10 attempts and 20 yards for Williamson). Fans should keep in mind that Horactio Banks will be back in the fall as well after tearing his ACL last year and not participating in spring practice.
  • The most impressive player on the defensive side of the ball for me was redshirt freshman rush end Anthony Winbush. He was able to make the most of a reshuffled defensive front thanks to the absences of Carlu Zaramo, Blake Dueitt, and Mike Ayers.The defensive line unknowns along with a late hire of defensive coordinator Kevin Kelly and line coach Nick Siatras had me concerned, but that unit appears to be reloading rather than rebuilding.
  • Interestingly enough, I didn’t see 5th year senior and incumbent starting place kicker Scott Secor attempt a field goal, but new face Cody Dickson went 3-3, hitting from 18, 28, and 37. Dickson is a senior from Carmel who sat out last season as a redshirt after transferring from Iowa Western Community College. I don’t know whether that will make a decision hard for the coaching staff given Secor’s prolific career at BSU, but having depth at a critical position is a good. Flashbacks to Ian McGarvey and Jake Hogue, if you will.
  • I had a chance to chat a bit with Joey Lynch after the game, and I can see why he does such a good job in recruiting and getting those letters of intent signatures. Very personable, extremely engaging, and just a good guy.
  • The highlight of the afternoon for me wasn’t a football related thing at all. At halftime, there was an Easter egg hunt on the north end zone lawn. I have never seen such a mixture of mass anarchy, chaos, enthusiasm, and sheer joy that I witnessed on the faces of the kids. Bottle that and you have a winner.

With this, the spring season comes to a close and all we have now is four months or so of nothing. No practices, no scrimmages, no recruiting, nothing really BSU focused at all. Most eyes should turn to the NFL Draft as we’re a little under three weeks away from that and determining the future of several notable Cards. Stay tuned to OTP for quite a bit of NFL coverage going forward and some more spring game reaction including some great video.

Saturday Spring Game Details

easter egg

Get your Easter Egg on with Charlie Cardinal at halftime.

In case you were unaware (not possible if you read this site or listen to the OTPcast) the Spring Game for the Fighting Football Cardinals is Saturday. Here’s what you need to know:

Who: You and up to 22,500 of your closest friends

What: The conclusion of the spring practice season with the Spring Game!

When: Saturday April 19, 2pm (doors at 1:30

Where: Scheumann Stadium in the booming metropolis of Muncie, IN just off the campus of The Ball State University

The Format: The format for this year’s Spring Game is an offense vs. defense scrimmage with special teams drills in between quarters.  On all fourth downs, the offense will either punt or kick a field goal.  There will be five series per quarter, and a unique scoring system will be used.

Drive Stop = 1 point
Three and Out = 3 points
Takeaway = 5 points
Touchdown = 6 points
PAT = 1 point

First Down = 1 point
Field Goal = 3 points
Touchdown = 6 points
PAT = 1 point
2-point Conversion = 2 points

There is a ton of stuff to do outside of meticulously poring over the Ball State offense and some critical things to look out for. Yes, we’ll have you covered in that regard as the week goes on with your storylines to watch out for and what to look for in the play on Saturday. In addition to that, there will be 500 free hot dogs distributed to fans, courtesy of Fishers Meats, and an Easter egg hunt will take place with Charlie Cardinal at the north end of the stadium at halftime. At the conclusion of the game, fans are welcome to enter the game field for photos and autographs with Ball State players and coaches. Choose wisely for your Christmas cards, boys and girls.

Though there is no age limit listed for the egg hunt, so if that’s truly the case, then Steve Bell has to be the odds on favorite to get as many eggs as he wants, right? If there is some sort of BIG EGG oversight and an age limit is employed, all bets are off.

OTPcast 5.27

OTP Cast Logo200Hey Cards fan, there’s an OTPcast to re-discover.
Hey Cards fan, know the water’s sweet but blood is thicker.
Oh if the MAC comes falling down, for you,
there’s nothing in this world we wouldn’t do.

Hey Cards fan, do you still believe in one another?
Hey Cards fan, do you still believe in Charlie I wonder?
Oh if the MAC comes falling down, for you,
there’s nothing in this world we wouldn’t do.

Jason and Alan are back after taking a week off to give you all you need for BSU football. Pete Lembo’s new contract, the Texas A&M game, a brewing QB battle in spring practice and spring game prep are all on the table. The guys also look at UMass leaving the MAC, Northwestern trying to unionize, and Michigan playing a night Big Ten game at the Big House. They close it out with some info on America’s fittest and fattest cities, and they see how much Jason knows about both. Tune it in, turn it up, and enjoy the show!

Couple of different ways to hear this puppy. Viewing OTP in a feedreader? Then visit the site or download the mp3 from iTunes by clicking here. Enjoy…


Cards Halfway Done with Spring Practice Friday, Coaches Named for Spring Game

The scene at my house Sunday-Wednesday

The scene at my house Sunday-Wednesday

Remember that time that you were running a BSU football blog and for like four days you had a wicked bad stomach flu that made you miss work, miss blogging, and basically lay in bed and long for the sweet death that was hopefully right around the corner while subsisting only on ginger ale and Ritz crackers with the hope you’d see neither out of either end in short order? No? Guess that’s just been my week, then.

It’s been agony. It’s been terrible. I have new-found respect for stay at home parents of younger children who I have to believe spend a good majority of their time cleaning up vomit and taking care of other bodily messes that may arise. You people are heroes. As for me, I couldn’t even pull myself together enough to enjoy Price is Right, which is ultimately the only good thing about a sick day, whether you’re six or sixty. The good news? Vomitor the regurgitation God has finally had mercy on me and allowed me to get back to business around these parts. That’s good or bad depending on your evaluation of the Pylon. Here’s what we’ve missed, and therefore, you:

NewsNotesLogo The football Cards wrapped up practice 6 of the spring season yesterday and will get it cracking on practice 7 Friday. In true Indiana fashion there’s been some shifts and schedule adjustments to account for the Indiana weather, which of course opens up the Pandora’s box of an indoor training facility and the need for one. That issue will be raised around these parts in the coming weeks given who we have slated for an upcoming OTPcast, so get an opinion ready for that one.

NewsNotesLogo Speaking of spring practice, the spring game is a mere 16 days away, slated for April 19th at 2pm. That’s a Saturday so you really have no excuse not to be there. We’ll be watching for some very specific things from the spring game and sharing those with you as we get closer. The honorary coaches were announced today as Mike Lecklider and Art Yaroch. I’ll just assume CPL had misplaced my number.

NewsNotesLogo If you haven’t been over at the BSUSports mothership lately, you should give it a once-over. They’ve got some great videos about spring ball and more importantly, some videos to meet the new coaches that are joining the Cards for the 2014 season. There’s a video introducing you to Nick Siatras, the new defensive line coach for the Cards, and I’d advise you watch it. Assuming you can get it to load on your computer (which took me three Flash updates and a browser change. A First World Problem to be sure, but get it together, BSU). It’s funny, there are certain coaches who are just intimidating when you see them. Brady Hoke. Mike Gundy. Randy Edsall. Aaron Wellman. The kind that you are never quite sure what’s going to set them off, but if it does, look out. I wouldn’t qualify Pete Lembo as that. I would with Nick Siatras. Unless he’s not ok with it. Then I wouldn’t. Don’t kill me.

NewsNotesLogo Your 19-10 Baseball Cardinals are at home beginning Friday for a weekend series with EMU. If you’re looking for a good option for some family entertainment, that’s it, boys and girls. Games are free and it’s officially baseball season. Enjoy our national pastime!

NewsNotesLogo If you’re more of a softball fan, those Cardinals are in action this weekend as well. Friday is a home doubleheader against BG, and then this weekend is home games against Toledo. The Cards are 18-12 currently and have had two straight MAC doubleheaders rained out. If you can’t make it out, at least do a little non-rain dance.

NewsNotesLogo The men’s volleyball Cardinals are currently ranked 12th and looking to get back in the win column after dropping two contests to #11 Lewis and #1 Loyola. They take on Grand Canyon Friday and Saturday. I would think the Cardinals have a good shot as large holes in the ground I would assume are not all that good at jumping up and blocking or serving. What’s that? Grand Canyon is a college? Oh. I was hoping this was the first in a series of winnable matches against Big Ben, the Rock of Gibraltar, and Niagara Falls, who has a wicked dig specialist.

Go Cards!

Read the Spring Prospectus to Get Yourself Ready for Spring Ball

BSULogoThough I am not in the 765 today, I have to believe folks are bouncing around the Fisher Football Complex with a little extra pep in their step. The sun probably looks a little brighter (the windows have been cleaned), the field turf may look a little greener (fresh coat of paint perhaps?), and the optimism is probably bubbling over. Why? Because we are 24 hours from the start of spring practice in Muncie.

Tuesday marks Practice One and Press Conference One of the 2014 season. Coach Pete Lembo will take the microphone in the opening press conference at noon. You can catch a stream of it from the Ball State Sports mothership here. If you feel like you didn’t waste enough of your employer’s time on Thursday and Friday of last week, you might as well take some time today to check out the Spring Prospectus (pdf).

It’s the first chance you have to check out the way-too-early depth chart and roster as well as an interesting Q+A with CPL. The athletics staff that conducted the interview point to the first thing I noticed in the prospectus: the youth on the coaching staff. It cannot be understated what a benefit (I presume) that is on the recruiting trail. The ability to have a high energy staff that can connect with prospective students is worth its weight in gold.

As we told you in the OTPcast, Spring Game is April 19th at 2pm. I’d go ahead and plan ahead to be there for that one.

Ball State to Play at Texas A&M in 2015

Mark your calendars, Cardinals fans because the chirpers from Muncie are heading to SEC country to take on the Texas A&M Aggies in College Station, TX on September 19, 2015. The same Texas A&M Aggies who laud Kyle Field as one of the best home environments in all of college football. The same Texas A&M who gave us Johnny Football. That Texas A&M. Are you excited? I’m excited. I’m so excited… I’m so excited…. I’m so…. scared.

so-excited-so-scared-j-spano_o_GIFSoup.comThings I’m loving about this? The chance to see a game at a great stadium. The chance to take the OTP Circus to a new locale. The opportunity to introduce thunderous MACtion to a sorority population desperate for it. Bill Scholl is excited also, because the Aggies will be dropping $1.2 million for the Cards to roll in to College Station. That’s what we call “budget-making” money. However, if CPL and the Cards can pull off a W, then I hope they just sign over the big cardboard check to him directly. That is how they pay for these things, right? The lobbying machine for BIG OVERSIZED CHECK is a strong one.

If you miss the Cards in Texas, you can catch them in Chicago on September 26, 2015 as the Cards will travel to a road date with Northwestern. You’ve got a year and a half, folks. Work on your vacation requests, come up with an excuse, or plan on quitting your job. You’re not going to want to miss when the CPL Experience takes its show on the road. Chirp chirp indeed.

To give credit where credit is due, The Star Press threw this out as a blind item this afternoon but A&M officially announced it about an hour ago. Congrats to the boys from TSP for scooping OTP on something. Finally. Good job, good effort, boys. You didn’t get us on the Parrish firing, Lembo hiring, Hoke to SDSU story, or a whole host of other things, but with stick-to-it-iveness like this the print media business is sure to make a comeback.

Pete Lembo Signs Extension, Gets New Title, Gets Paid

logo200Well hey there, boys and girls? How was your Thursday? What’s that? There was basketball on? Oh damn. That tournament thing started yesterday, didn’t it? Anything good happen? I’ll just go ahead and assume the powerhouses of Ohio State and Cincinnati advanced quite easily over whatever small schools they were playing. Those Buckeyes and Bearcats have just the moxy a team needs to make a deep tourney run. Too bad, Ugandan children who wanted cast off Buckeye National Champs tshirts. You’ll just have to wait until football season.

Regardless of whether your Thursday was better or worse than Ugandan children or Brutus the Buckeye, let me tell you who had a better Day After Hump Day than you did: Pete Lembo. Or should I say, the new Associate Athletics Director in addition to head football coach Pete Lembo. With more titles on the business card comes more zeros on the check, as the great Tom Davis reports CPL now has a salary of $475,000 (a boost of $79,000 from last season) and a contract that is good until 2019. I imagine CPL running through the halls of the Fisher Football Complex looking something like this:

The naysayers were quick to point out on Twitter that a buyout of $475k (if CPL leaves before the season is completed) isn’t enough to scare away the biggest of the big boys, but it at least should keep the minnows out of the pond of potential CPL poaching. Which would at least mean the theory floated last winter of Arkansas State being a potential destination officially laughable.

This is what I try to tell my students all the time. Win consistently, do things the right way, tweet Winston Churchill quotes semi-regularly, and you too can be on the receiving end of a half a million dollar contract for five more years and awesome twitter hashtags like #Lemboner or #BaldSoHard. And really, if that’s not your definition of success, you’re doing it wrong.

Congrats to Coach Lembo and thank you to AD Bill Scholl for getting this done.

OTPcast 5.26

OTP Cast Logo200It might seem crazy what we’re about to say
Because BSU is wrapping up spring break
Chirps on the rise like they could go to space
With the air like I don’t care, baby, by the way

Because I’m chirpy…
Come along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m chirpy…
Chirp along if you feel like chirpin’ is the truth
Because I’m chirpy…
Chirp along if you know what chirpin’ means to you
Because I’m chirpy…
Chirp along if you feel like that’s what you want to do

Jason and Alan are back this week to get you ready for Ball State’s spring game, the QB battle, and how one national pundit calls BSU the hottest football team in the country. The guys also cruise through the proposed changes to targeting and defensive substitutions and who their way too early national championship picks are. Finally, they wrap it up with a survey on American home life and The Bachelor finale. All that and more in this week’s OTPcast!

Couple of different ways to hear this puppy. Viewing OTP in a feedreader? Then visit the site or download the mp3 from iTunes by clicking here. Enjoy…


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