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Ball State Gets New Helmets

For years I’ve said numerous things about my alma mater. I’ve called it “The Harvard of the Midwest”, the “Harvard of Indiana”, “The Harvard of East Central Indiana”, and “The Harvard of Delaware County”. Maybe I was looking at schools too far east, as Ball State and more importantly for this site, the football program, has laid claim to be “The Oregon of the MAC” with some new alternate helmet designs. To the YouTubes…

Do you know why this is awesome? First of all, the helmets look sharp and they aren’t gaudy. Remember when IU football unveiled their new helmets? Yeah, me too. The amount of celebration and britches-messin’ that happened over shoddy designs and Indiana flag helmets made me want to grab the nearest sharp object and jam it into one of numerous orifices. More important than that, though, is that this catches the Cards up with other programs and speaks to the overarching theme that there are numerous pieces of evidence that the program has some money heading its way from the institution.

The .edu crowd (to borrow from Colin Cowherd) likes to make statements about the economics of football and how that money is wasted on boorish pursuits like football and sports in general, so investing in these instead of Bunson burners or test tubes probably pissed off some tweed sports coat wearing dude so that’s a nice little win-win.

The more things I can point to that shows that this university is equally as concerned about things that actually increase the national prominence of the institution no matter how bad the .edu crowd wishes that wasn’t the case makes me a happy guy. Kudos to the BSU equipment guys for making this a reality.

A Brief Update on Your Friends at the Pylon and the End of the Whitlock Feud

OTP Logo 200Well hello there, friends. How are you? Things good on your end? What’s that? You’re excited about the home opener in a couple weeks? Yeah, us too. Of course, you wouldn’t know that by looking around the place with our lack of smarmy posts, a severe absence of potty humor, and no real breakdowns of opposing players and their girlfriends to chuckle at. Sometimes, with a one-man show of awesome like OTP, things take a backseat to life.

It’s not a new thing, as it has happened before. But this time isn’t for medical reasons or bad things, it’s all good. A promotion for Fearless Leader and the move to a new home has made blogging in the recent history a bit of a struggle. Higher education employment in the summer is always chaotic, but a new job right around opening is what we in the business call a “nightmare”. It’s not a good excuse, but it is the reason why, and I am not at the point in my career where I can say to my pending promotion, “Damn the torpedoes! It’s blogging season!”. One day, friends. One day.

So where does that leave you, the reader? Hopefully with a thirst for some Pylon in your life. The guys at Hustle Belt do a fine job and Tom Davis and Ben Breiner kill it with their mainstream media coverage. Hell, Tom Davis uses Periscope now. (For the record: From all I can gather, the Spring Game OTP Pre-Show was the first BSU football event on there) I mention all that to say that while there are a ton of options to get your Cardinal news and notes, there is only one Over The Pylon.

We may have taken some time to catch our collective breath and get me moved into a delightful new OTP Manor, but that all ends now that we are weeks away from the season opener. What do you have in your future? The always stellar Cardinal Previews (with the always entertaining OTP Threat Meter), some killer drone footage that’s football related courtesy of your favorite Podcast co-host Jason Brewer, position commentary, opponent previews, MAC thoughts, and a ton of other things are all on your docket as we roll on through August.

It’s going to be a good month going forward and (in my opinion) a very successful season for your Fighting Football Cardinals. Perhaps the biggest omen for success comes in the form of the two biggest (size joke?) BSU fans finally burying the hatchet and coming to a détente of sorts. Friends of the Pylon know that Jason Whitlock and us have had our share of run ins throughout the history of this site. We interviewed JW and then things went south for a whole host of reasons. I was able to touch base with him over the summer and I think both of us are in a much better spot than we were. We’re still blocked on Twitter, but I am no longer worried about the potential brawl in the Scheumann Stadium press box that was always somewhat on the back of my mind. We’re still blocked by JW on Twitter, so if you’re not, feel free to pass on some good wishes from the Pylon.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, we are two weeks away from the opener and we have work to do. Go Cards.

Creating the Perfect Man Cave for the Football Season


Not that kind of cave

A man cave is an area where you can be yourself, either alone or with a couple of your absolute best friends. With no women allowed, it is an area where your favorite sport can air 24/7 if you like, and its sole purpose is to make you feel as relaxed as possible. As well as a top-quality TV, the only furnishings required will be chairs, a sofa, a table, and the accessories you need for your comfort and enjoyment.

Beginning with the decor, you will probably want to keep the walls of your man cave plain and dark so that the game can be showcased in all its glory. Thus, lights should be adjustable so you can dim them when you want to. The most important feature (and the one on which you will want to invest the most time and money) is the TV. Ideally, the man cave will be in the basement or a room or area of the house that is shut off from everybody else, free from outside interference.

The size and decor of the room will influence the size of the TV that you buy. Choose as big a screen as you can afford, or alternatively a high-quality projector screen, so you feel like you are actually in the game. It is recommended that if you are going to be seated about nine feet away, the TV screen should be 60, 65 or 70 inches, but you might want to choose a much larger screen. It really depends on the type of TV, as well as budget and personal choice. The acoustics are almost as important, so invest in the best surround system you can afford.

Your room must be warm enough in winter, cool enough in summer, and have adequate ventilation from at least one window, if possible. You need to be able to block out the light from windows and wooden shutters are perfect for this because they can be adjusted according to the angle of the sun. You will need to prevent glare and reflections from ruining your viewing experience. Shutters are neat, clean and neutral looking, easy to fit with no fussy tiebacks or curtain rails, and take up the minimal amount of space.

Easy to clean furniture and flooring, in case of spilled drinks, will need to be as comfortable as possible and you need to include enough seats to accommodate any guests you invite. You might also want a table and a means of putting your feet up, such as a footstool or an ottoman, which is also handy for storage. Add your gaming console and DVDs if you want to. The ultimate man cave will have a pool table, jukebox or even use old car parts to make quirky furnishings.

Finally, complete your man cave with gadgets, accessories and any other final touches. Decorate the walls with sports memorabilia, framed shirts, or vintage sport photographs. Add a fridge or cabinet for drinks, an espresso machine, your favorite snacks, and – of course – the best sports package available from your cable provider.

Jeremy Piven Wants Ball State News and Notes

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 03:  Jeremy Piven attends the GQ Men of the Year awards at The Royal Opera House on September 3, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)Well hello there, friends. Doing well? What’s that? You were worried about us? Well bless your heart. Yes, it’s been a while since we blasted some Cardinal news all over you, but real life does sometimes take priority. Plus, it was the offseason. Throw in a promotion for me and a move, and blogging did take a bit of a backseat. But, it’s the end of July and that means football is right around the corner and time once again to fire up the OTP war wagon. Don’t worry you beautiful babies, we’ll never leave you again.

Today is a day for celebration and not just because we’re back. Oh no. It’s the day of birth of one Jeremy Piven. Name me another actor that is loved by such different sects of society for such different roles. The burnouts love him for PCU. The alpha bros love him for Ari Gold and Entourage. Your girlfriend loves him for Serendipity. You mom loves him for that weird British show on PBS. That’s what I call versatility. He turns 50 today. His hair plugs are much younger.

Part of why I don’t feel such crushing guilt about our hiatus is that news out of Muncie has been rather slow over the last month or so. There’s some news so let’s get to it, then let’s chat about what you have to look forward to mmmkay?

NewsNotesLogo Your football Cardinals open fall camp on August 5. We’ll have a complete schedule upcoming but in case you want to camp out and/or tailgate, plan ahead. Also, plan on catching the MAC’s Media Day on July 29 streamed on ESPN3. Jacob Richard, Darnell Smith, and CPL will be your BSU reps.

NewsNotesLogo The article posted on the site for the last month or so was that of Keith Wenning getting released from Baltimore. That’s old news as Wenning has since signed a deal with the Cincinnati Bengals. There are four QBs on the Cincy roster, so there’s work to do, but Wenning has a shot. Plus he’s out of Baltimore. I used to live there. Keith should be glad he’s gone.

NewsNotesLogo Our Hoop Cards are heading to the Bahamas on August 3 for a five-day trip to bond, play some ball, and prepare for the coming season. Call me crazy, but I am very much looking forward to this basketball season and what it holds for BSU. Last season, Kentucky went to the Bahamas and then damn near went undefeated. Mark your calendars now for a BSU Final 4.

NewsNotesLogo In new head coach news, Megan Ciolli Bartlett has been named the new softball coach at BSU, replacing Tyra Perry. Let’s hope the Notre Dame grad can have the success of Perry.

NewsNotesLogo Ball State soccer coach Craig Roberts is leading the Haiti Under 17 team through the 2016 World Cup qualifying process. They are through the first round so get excited! #TeamHaiti

So that’s the high points of what’s been. What’s still ahead? Glad you asked. We’ve got game previews, some depth charting, opponent comedy, some killer drone footage… all in a days work for your faithful BSU athletics servants. Buckle up, kiddies, because fall is right around the corner and we’re coming in hot.

Ravens Release Keith Wenning

Photo credit: Kurt Hostetler, The Star Press

Keith Wenning, always a Cardinal

It’s never been said that the NFL was anything close to easy or fair, and I’d say with the news out of Baltimore that Keith Wenning has been released by the Ravens, that point just hits closer to home than usual for Ball State fans. After being a 6th round draftee last spring, Wenning spent the 2014 season on the practice squad while the Ravens carried only two QBs on their game day roster. With the offseason pickup of Matt Schaub, Keith’s window was slowly closing. Compounding that fact was undrafted free agents that the Ravens needed roster space and dollars for, so Keith was shown the door.

From all accounts around the Ravens and the Wenning camp, Keith certainly was working like an all-star, frequently the first in and last out of workouts and practices. That should come as no surprise to BSU fans, and neither should the universal praise of Keith as a person and player. It’s a harsh reality that often times in the NFL, and any for profit business for that matter, sometimes hard work, attitude, and skill pale in comparison to money and numbers. A harsh reality but a reality all the same.

In my heart, I know that this is the start of Keith’s journey and nowhere close to the end. Of the myriad players I’ve had the opportunity to interact with and chat with over my time covering Ball State, none have been as humble, sincere, and just all around decent, the way that Keith was. Whether it’s football, business, or just life in general, Keith will be tremendous and a tremendous representative for Ball State and its football program.

Philosophically, though, it is somewhat disappointing that players like Keith struggle to make it in professional sports while countless headcases, discipline problems, and legitimate delinquents make roster after roster. Something isn’t right with that situation.

Softball Heads to South Bend for NCAA Regional Play

CEsLRzLW0AAxkkkThe Ball State softball team learned it would be traveling to the South Bend Regional to open play in the 2015 NCAA Division I Softball Championships, the NCAA announced Sunday night on ESPNU.

The Cardinals (33-23), the Mid-American Conference Tournament Champions, will open the South Bend Regional with a game versus in-state rival and No. 16 seed Notre Dame (40-13). The other half of the bracket features Northwestern (28-21) out of the Big Ten and Kentucky (29-24) out of the Southeastern Conference.

The 64-team championship field was selected from 283 NCAA Division I institutions sponsoring the sport of softball. Of the 64 teams, 32 received automatic qualification as conference champions with the remaining best 32 teams selected on an at-large basis. Sixteen teams were seeded and each of the seeded teams will be placed at one of the regional sites.

The tournament opens with 16 four-team double-elimination regionals held at campus sites May 15-17. The 16 regional champions advance to the best-of-three Super Regionals, which will also be held at eight campus sites May 21-24. The eight Super Regional champions punch tickets to the 2015 NCAA Women’s College World Series, which will be held at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium – OGE Energy Field in Oklahoma City, May 28 to June 3.

Ball State will be making its third appearance in the NCAA Division I Softball Championships and first since the 2010 season. The Cardinals’ first NCAA Championship appearance came in 1998, when Ball State suffered losses to Michigan (12-1 in 5) and Illinois-Chicago (6-1) in Ann Arbor. Ball State traveled to the Knoxville Regional in 2010, falling to host Tennessee (5-0) and Louisville (5-1).

The Cardinals advanced to the NCAA Championship by winning last week’s MAC Tournament with a perfect 4-0 record in the event. Ball State senior outfielder Hanne Stuedemann was named the tournament’s MVP after hitting .462 (6-for-13) over Ball State’s four games, including a pair of home runs. In the championship game, Stuedemann went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and four RBI, including a three-run home run in the fifth inning.

Junior pitcher Nicole Steinbach and junior second baseman Emily Dabkowski also earned spots on the MAC All-Tournament Team. Steinbach went a perfect 4-0 in the circle, allowing just seven earned runs over 21.2 innings of work. Dabkowski hit .333 (5-for-15) over Ball State’s four games, including two home runs, while driving in six runs and scoring five times.

Looking for a New Poker Home? Try 888 Poker

PokerChipsIf your football days are long past you and the cleats are already hung up, then you might be interested in playing another competitive game – online poker. Sure, poker is an entirely different type of game, but it’s one where skilled players win big-time money over the long run. And one way that you can bring this internet poker dream closer to reality is by taking advantage of a good sign up offer. Assuming you’re looking for help in this matter, you should choose the 888 sign up offer, and here are a few reasons why.

1. You get $88 Free just for creating an Account – No Deposit Necessary
For those still dipping their toes in the online poker world, there’s no finer bonus than 888poker’s because you get $88 free and upfront. All you have to do is create an account at the site and you’ll receive this money, which can be used in real money cash games and tournaments. If you lose, then it’s no problem because it isn’t even your $88. But if you win, then you’ll keep building your bankroll and working towards more profits.

2. You can get Another $10 Free through the Right Affiliates
Every little bit of money helps in your beginning online poker days, which is why you’ll want to take advantage of another free $10 that’s available too. The only catch with this one is that you must sign up through the right affiliate; I signed up at 888poker through PokerStop.com and got my free $10, but there are other poker affiliates that you can get the same deal through.

3. You’ll play for a 100% Match Bonus up to $400
Once you make a deposit, you’ll be able to earn the largest portion of the 888 sign up offer – a 100% match bonus up to $400. So if you deposited $200, you’d have an opportunity to collect another $200 in bonus cash. To earn the match bonus, you must generate Bonus Points (BPs) in real money poker games. Every 10 BPs results in a bonus dollar, and it requires paying $1 in rake to get 2 BPs. In short, you’ll only need to contribute $5 rake in real money poker games to get each bonus dollar.

4. You receive 25% of your Match Reward Upfront
One final aspect of the 888poker bonus worth discussing is how you get 25% of your match bonus right away. Using the $200 deposit example again, you’d receive $50 upfront, in addition to the $88 and (possibly) $10. Do the math and that’s $144 in free money immediately – plus the ability to earn the remaining $150 of the match bonus! With everything that’s delivered upfront, it’s not hard to see why 888poker is so great for beginners.

Cardinal Fans… OTP and Some Great Kids Need YOUR Help!

Kids CenterIf you’ve been reading the Pylon since its inception back in 2008, you probably have realized a few things. First and foremost, you’d have noticed that we are unhealthily obsessed with Ball State athletics. To that, I have no defense and I make no apologies. Chirp chirp till I die. You would have also noticed that I very rarely put my personal business out into the blogosphpere for a whole host of reasons. Today, we focus less on the former and more on the latter, as the curtain gets pulled back a little on your fearless leader here at OTP with an opportunity to make a difference in some amazing kids’ lives.

Those that know me best have heard me laud my brother John as perhaps the most amazing person that you’ll ever meet. Musical ability for days and a photographic memory are what people notice initially but the myriad personality traits my brother has that I could never hope for are unbelievable. He’s kind. He’s sincere. He’s affectionate. There’s a magnetism and a genuineness that I’ve not seen in anyone else.  John is also autistic, but that disability doesn’t define him. It’s because of my parents and the support they’ve provided and the numerous angels John has in his life that have allowed him to succeed.

The Mom’s occupation is development and fundraising, but her passion is children, all of whom (much like my brother) were dealt a hand in life that makes things you and I find easy and simple sometimes exceptionally difficult. She currently works with a population of those very kids at the Kids Center for Pediatric Therapies in Louisville. It’s not hyperbole when I say that the Kid’s Center is truly doing God’s work by providing these children physical, occupational, and speech therapies. More than that, they’re providing them hope and a chance to succeed. They help children find their ability and not focus on their disability. It’s powerful stuff, even for your neighborhood Ball State blogger. In a world that seems to grow more troubling and negative by the day, there are miracles occurring each and ever minute at a place like the Kids Center.

How you can help me help them is by opening your wallet for these kids. Unlike some charities and goodworks, money isn’t lost to overhead and no donation is too small. Remember above how I said that children aren’t turned away because of their families’ ability to pay? That happens because of generous donations from people just like you and me. $20 provides an hour of therapy for a child in need. Every $1,000 raised funds therapy for an entire year for a child in dire need of a break. To put that in perspective, to fund a child for an hour of therapy, you’d need to trade off:

  • One good 6-pack and a Chipotle burrito… or…
  • A large Papa John’s pizza delivered… or….
  • 4 Starbucks runs… or…
  • Three packs of cigarettes (that’s about what they cost these days, right?)… or…
  • * insert something you don’t really need that costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 *

That doesn’t seem like much for an hour of therapy. Looking for a more Cardinal-riffic way to make your donation count? Might I suggest…

  • $41.39 (The score of the last BSU win over Indiana)
  • $30 (a dollar for every win at BSU that Pete Lembo has accrued)
  • $92 (a dollar for every Keith Wenning BSU TD in his career)
  • $1,000,000 (seems like a nice round number)

The main fundraising push for the Kids Center is the upcoming Walk and Roll, where Kids Center families and supporters will come to downtown Louisville for a two-mile downtown stroll or roll depending on their ability or accommodation. I’m asking you, Friends of the Pylon, or friends of mine, for your support in this endeavor. It is people like you that can give a child therapy, hope, and their own little miracle. The amounts above are only suggestions. Please give what you feel comfortable and no donation is too small. How you would do that

  • Click through to the Kids Center fundraising page here.
  • Click on that big blue button that says (appropriately enough) “SUPPORT ME”
  • Fill in your donation via their secure credit card form. In the “Message to Becki” section feel free to put something like “OTP sent me” or “Go Ball State” or something to make our Cardinal voice heard.
  • Submit the info and pat yourself on the back for doing some good on a Thursday. Simple, really.

Scientists have actually proven that our brains’ pleasure receptors benefit from the act of generosity. So it feels good to donate money to worthy causes like helping kids in need. I know you can do it, friends. Thanks in advance for your support and I do hope you can join me in making sure these kids have the therapy and hope they need.

Post-Derby Thoughts on the Ozzie Mann Transfer News

CPL and Ozzie Football after the Indiana State debacle (Photo credit Alaina Jaye Halsey)

CPL and Ozzie Football after the Indiana State debacle (Photo credit Alaina Jaye Halsey)

The first weekend in May is one of the only weekends of the year when my sporting attention is almost entirely focused elsewhere. As a native Kentuckian, there are few moments when people are inquisitive about my home commonwealth in a positive manner instead of the usual, “Do you wear shoes?” or “Do you enjoy mayonnaise sandwiches?”  sort of witty repartee I usually endure. Derby Weekend is that weekend. The splendor of the horses, the possibility of getting rich, the inherent caste system that exists at the track, and the free-flowing booze are just some of the reasons why sports eyes the world over, and especially mine, focus on Louisville on the first Saturday in May.

So it was a little out of character for me to even be checking email on Derby Saturday, but with the release of Ozzie Mann’s transfer news, my Derby Saturday took a small little detour. If you’re following the Pylon on the OTPcast (and you should here on itunes or Stitcher, because it’s awesome) you’ll know that Jason and I talked a little about this potential thing a few weeks ago. The Cardinal QB backfield was a crowded place as is with Jack Milas, Ozzie Mann, and David Morrison. And let’s not forget that true freshman Riley Neal is coming in this summer. I believe my exact words were, “I’d be surprised if all of those QBs were still on the roster when fall camp opens” and sure enough that has happened with Ozzie Mann announcing he is transferring from Ball State effective immediately.

On the surface and in a visceral way, it’s a loss for the program as depth at the QB position is always a nice thing to have. Some will point to Mann’s inability to hold on to the starter’s job last season as some sort of indictment on his talent or skills, and that would be a foolish thing to do. Mann at the dawn of 2014 had a perfect storm of factors beyond his control come into play that made him succeeding difficult if not outright impossible. I don’t think I am the only one to think the first few games of 2014 had exceptionally pedestrian playcalling with a team in search of its identity.

Quake found it hard to be the playmaker we all knew possible when defenses knew that was about all the Cardinals had to go on when Jordan Williams got dinged up in the season opener. At some level, it just seemed that the team under Ozzie’s command was just cursed. Everything that could have went wrong went wrong for BSU, as games that were one possession affairs we had all grown used to winning in the early Lembo years now all went the opposition’s way. Whether that was new coordinators, new skill players, injuries, or just bad juju left over from the successful years before it is anyone’s guess. But what isn’t up for debate is whether or not it was all Ozzie. It wasn’t. Though Cards fans who want to think so will point to one game: Indiana State.

To call the Cards’ loss to the Sycamores anything other than a complete and abject failure would be to ignore the obvious. We wrote as much last fall. Fans will point to the fact that the Cards lost to the Sycamores as some sort of litmus test for the Ozzie Football experiment. Others will point to the confusion and chaos on the last play that resulted in time expiring and Ozzie’s inability to either get out of bounds or throw it out of the end zone, but to focus solely on that would be ridiculous. There was more than enough blame to go around to peg all of it on a relatively new starter who set personal career marks for yards, completions, and attempts in that particular outing.

So the book on Ozzie Mann in Muncie closes before it really got going, but can you really blame him? The writing was/is on the wall that his ability to start, to lead, and to win as QB1 was only coming if those above him on the depth chart couldn’t fulfill their duties and those below him didn’t overtake him. You can’t fault an athlete, a competitor, a warrior, for wanting to be the person who succeeds or fails on their own. It’s what got him to Muncie and on the roster in the first place. We’ll be rooting for Ozzie wherever he lands, and wish him well on his transfer process.

New Ball State Football Field Design Released

If you follow any of the social media accounts even remotely connected to Ball State football then you should be aware that in the last week or so since the spring game, the field turf at Scheumann Stadium has been getting removed to make way for a new field. Yesterday saw the official release of the design that’s going on the field turf…


Unless I’m missing something the key differences are the black and red ringing the field and the end zones being red fill with white text, whereas now there is no ring at all, and the end zones are just red lettering. It’s a clean design, it’s not crazy different (a la Eastern Washington’s all red turf that makes your eyes bleed), and most importantly: it’s something new. Positives all around. Your thoughts?



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