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Cardinals Hit a New Low, Lose to EMU

Questions need to be asked and answered.

Ed. Note: I will warn you in advance that I’m not quite sure where this post will go. Knee-jerk snap posts after a loss are never a great idea, and stream of consciousness posts after a loss to a team widely regarded as one of the worst in FBS could potentially turn bitter, vindictive, and wildly negative. I will try my best to not allow that to happen, but if in case the negativity monster rears its ugly head, you in fact have been adequately warned.

Welll… that certainly sucked now didn’t it? Losing in and of itself isn’t the end of the world. Hell, BSU fans have grown accustomed to dropping games more frequently than we don’t. But today isn’t the same. Losing to a MAC opponent, a winless MAC opponent, a winless MAC opponent universally thought of as one of the worst in the conference/nation isn’t what we expected and isn’t what we deserve. After each and every loss since this blog was started back in 2008 we’ve implored people to stay positive. We’ve begged people to not give up. We’ve assured folks that better days were coming. Today, all that positivity, all that fear calming, all that hope and optimism for this program in the near future appears for naught. I’m not sure what rock bottom is, but I fear that the Ball State football program is venturing dangerously close to it.

Today’s loss, a 41-38 loss in overtime to the Eastern Michigan Eagles is just the latest example of the frustrating football that has overtaken this program. The Cardinals led 28-7, and it appeared that the Cardinals were about to hand EMU their 19th consecutive loss. What was needed was a simply cruise control kind of victory. What happened was 28 unanswered points from EMU, and BSU found themselves in need of a touchdown in the final seconds to even force the overtime period.

The box score and recap for this particular contest is equal parts confusing and humiliating. EMU outplayed the Cardinals in nearly every facet, from time of possession to total yards. BSU won the turnover battle, so I guess that’s good. Statistically, this isn’t what should have happened. To have a winless team mired in a significant losing streak rack up a 490-243 yard advantage is absolutely ridiculous. That’s the humiliating part, but the confusion stems from how or more importantly who compiled the 243. The leading rusher for the Cards? Freshman David Brown. Quale Lewis? 6 carries, 1 yard. Cory Sykes? No carries, but he has been battling an injury lately. Eric Williams did run a kickoff back for a TD, but only rushed eight times for 62 yards. Is this not the defense that let Quale and Sykes run roughshod over them last season? Pretty sure it is. And the fact that the rushing attack wasn’t jammed down the throats of EMU is inexcusable.

Defensively, the Cardinals yet again let a single player beat them. EMU’s Alex Gillett ran around, ran through, and threw over the BSU defense all day. 225 through the air on 10 completions and 189 on the ground on 35 carries seems to me a bit excessive, and I cannot imagine how the defensive coaching staff not only couldn’t see this coming but failed to do anything about it once it started. This seems to be the routine over the last two years, where one stand out player is made to look like a Heisman Trophy winner thanks to the inability of the BSU defense to stop them and the BSU coaching staff to do anything different schematically to maybe make looking awesome just a little bit difficult.

I never thought I would be saying this again after 2008 and the magical undefeated season we witnessed, but there is nothing positive to take away from this game and nothing that I can point to as a life vest in this abysmal era of failure and disappointment. In the last two weeks, barring the first 28 minutes of today, this team has looked unprepared, unmotivated, and incapable of success. Homecoming was an embarrassment that I figured was a simple bump in the road. After today’s performance, it’s less about the road and more about the car, or more specifically, the driver.

Over the last year and a half, there has been no more ardent a supporter of Stan Parrish than myself and this site. But after today, when coupled with the rest of the evidence, it does make me significantly question if whether or not the success and victories that I desire are even remotely attainable under his watch. Is Coach Parrish to blame for the lack of results? Is the staff? Is Jo Ann Gora and Tom Collins to blame? Unfortunately, youth and inexperience only go so far to write off less than stellar results. The time has now come for the difficult questions to be asked, like who is responsible for the complete and utter failure of this program to sustain success and even worse…regress to a level that makes the program irrelevant and unimportant all over again. Someone needs to be held accountable, because this type of performance is simply inexcusable.

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9 Responses

  1. Old man pic: Get out of my yard!!!!!

  2. Ok, this is the one place I can find to comment on the trainwreck that is Ball State Football (I’m STILL waiting to be accepted at bsufans) I completely agree with Alan, and many others on the forums…something has to be done. I recieved my Undergrad from BSU and rarely missed a game. I’m now back for my MBA, and I rarely miss a game…until now. I really don’t know if I will go back. The saddest part of this whole situation is that there are many fans, just like me, who want nothing more than to tailgate all day, cheer their team to victory, then go buy an entire rooms worth of BSU gear to show their pride. They want their team to be talked about on ESPN. They want to see their stadium have a jumbotron. Even many FCS schools have one! Why is Ball State so blind to this fact???? Why is the administration so idiotic??? ALUMNI WANT TO SUPPORT THE SCHOOL!!!! The admin. refuses to make the necesarry investment, then has the nerve to ask for donations in the middle of the game.

    So, my question, for anybody who is as as fed up, as angry at the incompetence on ALL levels as I am is this: What can we do? And thats not just a rhetorical question….WHAT CAN WE DO??? Are we completely powerless??? There HAS to be something…. Looking forward to any ideas.

    Go BSU

  3. I wasn’t a big fan of Parrish getting promoted when it happened and this is why. Unfortunately Stan seems to be another great offensive coordinator who becomes a mediocre head coach. Who is to blame for this regression? To me it has to be Tom Collins and to a lesser degree Jo Ann Gora. Last year we would’ve struggled to be a 6-6 or 7-5 team even with Coach Hoke still here but I doubt we would’ve lost to Liberty or EMU if Coach Hoke were still on the sidelines.

  4. I advised you 2 years ago that Parrish was not a motivator. He didn’t get pissed over a loss and was simply embracing the position he had. He’s never going to be different and neither is the program with him at the helm. The question that must be asked; is a winning program important to Ball State? It’s that simple. Does the President, the AD and the $$ Supporters really care? There is where the cure for this dismal situation lies. Presently, it appears, they’ve got what they wanted; a cheap production, with no prideful expectations. You know the old saying; success breeds success. That doesn’t come cheap. Hire a coach that commands a competitive salary and provides a production of success or wallow in the cheap sludge that presently exists. This staff is worse than Kragthorpe and company. Good luck.

  5. No matter how bad this staff may be, they aren’t as bad as Krags. I’m not sure how Kragthorpe wore shoes without velcro.

  6. All I’d ask Mike is this: where does he think this gigantic pile of money is that the university is allegedly sitting on and refusing to spend? BSU just had their budget sliced by $15M by Gov. My Man Mitch. Even in our best season ever, we had 13,000 *paying* customers in the stadium for most games (plus 10K students, who get in for free), at some of the lowest ticket prices in the country for Division I-A. Any effort to raise those prices, even incrementally, is met by howls of protest from alumni and the local community.

    A modest effort to increase athletic donations to help make those “investments” that everyone is screaming about — the PASS Plan — was so roundly opposed by season ticket holders that they dropped it after 18 months, despite the fact that many low-D1 and even a few D-2 programs have something similar in place.

    So, where is this money fairy coming from? The university is basically using duct tape and spit to keep from having to lay off faculty and staff in this era of budget cuts (you know, the actual purpose of a university). We have a BOT that will not allow any department at the university, much less athletics, to deficit-spend (this is a good thing, BTW). And yet, folks expected the administration to throw an extra $350K per year at a football coach, in the teeth of the worst economy since the Great Depression, with no discernible revenue forthcoming?

    Blame Gora and Collins all you want if it makes you feel better — but the actual blame falls upon BSU alums, fans and the Muncie community, who have spent the past two decades demanding a competitive, successful Division I athletic program with no expectation of ever having to pay for one. (I remember in the late 90s, when our hoops team was still one of the top mid-major programs in the country. Our upper-level tickets were eight bucks, and BSU wanted to raise that price to ten dollars. A damn-near city-wide rebellion on the part of the Muncie community ensued, making sure that the modest revenue increase to help sustain our basketball program at a high level couldn’t be achieved).

    Hell, I recall meeting an alum last year who was still using his old student ID to get in free to games, five years after graduation. This person was gainfully employed, spent eight years (four more than he should have) getting free admission to BSU sporting events, and even after all that, the guy’s not willing to pony up $15 to see the Cards play a home game. Yet this guy spent an hour bitching about Parrish and “our AD.” If that doesn’t encapsulate BSU’s bizarre dilemma — give me a winner but I’ll be damned if you’ll see a dollar from me to help get there — then I don’t know what does.

    If Gora had several hundred thousand dollars in pledged donor commitments for football salaries in her pocket, she might have been able to come close to matching Hoke’s offer from SDSU (but it’s pretty clear that Hoke’s agent was ushering him out the door for a higher commission no matter what). As it stood, she was able to still make an offer to make him the highest paid coach in BSU history at the outer edges of what the university could afford to spend. (FWIW, the same people who are bitching about Gora now would also have been calling for her head for her “fiscal irresponsibility” once a highly-paid Hoke turned in a 5-7 season last year. She can’t win with those critics – they’ve reflexively hated her since her first day on the job- and she’s wise not to try).

    As for Parrish, I’m happy to give the guy a fair chance and will defend him from some of the uglier, more unfair personal attacks (and Whitlock’s outright false smear campaigns) that come his way. But at the end of the day, he has to write his own ticket, and blowing three-TD leads to EMU at home ain’t helping his own cause. He’s not beyond the point of no return yet, but he soon will be if his teams don’t quit barfing up games like yesterday’s.

  7. Further example of why Papa Lou gets not only carte blanche here at OTP, but also gets directly quoted on our weekly podcast. PL knows what’s what behind the scenes, and there is way more to this whole situation than any of us know or want to know. Well said, sir. Cardinal cocktails to you for sure.

  8. At Papa Lou BSU:
    I agree with many of the points that you presented, and will be the first to admit that I don’t know the big picture or many of the tiny details that are present in this situation.

    Having said that, I also am not as ignorant as to believe that BSU is sitting on a gigantic pile of money that the powers that be are simply refusing to use. As someone who is currently searching for a job, I am well aware of the tough economic times.

    While my earlier post may not reflect it as I intended, I simply wished to express my frustration as a young fan who wants to see his team succeed. I see other programs, such as Boise, spring up to success while facing many of the same challenges that Ball State does and simply wonder why they can do it and we cannot.

    Also, I am not one to blame President Gora for everything. She has placed her focus on acedemics and aesthetics, and by most measures succeeded. The appearance of campus alone is night and day from when I first arrived in 2005 as a freshman. I am not, and never have been a Tom Collins fan and believe that many of the issues that the athletics programs are having are in a large part due to his decisions; least among them the slew of NCAA infractions that the programs have been given in the recent past. As for Stan Parrish, I think that he is a great OC and recruiter who is not comfortable with the head coach position and makes poor game day decisions.

    I was unaware of any attempt towards a fundraising campaign for athletics, so I tip my hat to you on that issue. On a side note, I would be interested to find out why any attempt to raise funds has failed so miserably. I wonder if it truely is the fanbase, or if there is some other factor. As a student, and I truely am still a student, while I do not purchase a ticket for each game, I believe that some of my dedicated student fees, which is over $1,000, do go towards the athletics programs. So, I actually do NOT get into games for “free”. However, I would still pay to get in to the games even if they were not “free” because I’m a fan and I like to support my team. If I end up living in the area, I fully intend to become a season ticket holder at which point will become better informed on any future fundraising attempts.

    Go BSU

    P.S. If you see that “money fairy” flying around, please tell it to come my way.

  9. Mike,

    Excellent point on the student fees, but note that Big Ten schools also have those yet still charge their students for admission to football and basketball games. Didn’t mean to imply the students were freeloading, just that other schools are able to generate revenue on student attendees to their games.

    And to be sure, the university has made its fair share of bad decisions over the years this area, as well (BSU did not allow any advertising at Worthen or the stadium until 2001 or so; the complete mishandling of a fundraising campaign for the stadium in the mid-90s that ended up not going anywhere and pissing off a bunch of donors in the process; and the ridiculous tailgating time restrictions and intrusive car searches by local authorities — yes, I realize I sound like a broken record on that issue, but I’m convinced some folks at BSU don’t realize how badly that makes the program look and how much it hurts with attendance. You have a program that’s trying to win fans over and struggles to draw… why are you throwing up unnecessary obstacles for them to come and enjoy a game day on your campus?)

    But at the end of the day, if fans truly want BSU to win, they need to start acting like it with their wallets. Fans can’t threaten to bail when their season ticket bill goes up $20-$25. They need to pony up donations when it comes time to keep a successful coach off the market, or when they want to see facility improvements. They need to not freak out when BSU prioritizes fans that give over those that don’t. They need to not flinch when BSU opts to maximize revenue when they have the opportunity (i.e., charging market rate for home games against BCS opponents in football or marquee games in basketball instead of Muncie Wal-Mart prices.)

    As the old saying goes, you can’t have caviar on a fast food budget….

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