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Scott Secor Named Semifinalist for Groza Award

BSULogoIt’s been an evolving season of bright spots for the Cardinals, but I’d say one of the more consistent things about this 2014 season has been the performance of senior placekicker Scott Secor. As we’ve mentioned, it’s likely that Secor will have set the single-season record for made field goals when 2014 is complete, and it’s now being noticed by people outside of the Cardinal football family as it was announced Thursday that Secor has been named one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, given annually to the nation’s best kicker.

Per the BSU release…

MUNCIE, Ind. – Scott Secor, a senior placekicker for the Ball State football team, has been named one of 20 semifinalists for the 2014 Lou Groza Collegiate Placekicker Award presented by the Orange Bowl, according to the Palm Beach County Sports Commission.

The award is named in honor of one of the all-time great kickers in football history who played 21 seasons for the Cleveland Browns and set numerous franchise records and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1974.

Secor is tied for first in the nation with 21 field goals this season and entered the week first in the nation in field goals per game (2.63), 10th in scoring (10.4) and 3nd in field goal percentage (.808). His 21 field goals this season rank third on Ball State’s single-season list and is four behind the school record of 25 held by John Diettrich in 1985 and Steven Schott in 2012. Secor made a career long 55-yard field goal at Central Michigan this season and tallied a career best five field goals in Ball State’s win over Akron earlier this season.

Semifinalists will be voted on by Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches, media relations professionals, past Groza finalists, and national and regional football writers to select three finalists. These finalists will be announced Nov. 24, and honored at the 23rd annual Lou Groza Collegiate Placekicker Awards Banquet Dec. 9, in West Palm Beach, Florida. The winner will be announced live on ESPN at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show Dec. 11.

Secor is the only kicker from a Mid-American Conference school named to the list of semifinalists for the award.

The Cardinals will play at Massachusetts Wednesday on ESPNU before returning to Scheumann Stadium in Muncie, Ind., for a Nov. 22 home game vs. Eastern Michigan and finishing the regular season Nov. 28 at Bowling Green.

The last Cardinal I remember making it to the finalist stage for a national award was Scott Kovanda for the Ray Guy Award, given to the nation’s best punter. Kovanda didn’t win, but he was there for the big hullabaloo of the end of season awards. Good luck to Scott, and I’d say he’s quite deserving, you know, by leading the nation in field goals.

Ali Landry Wants Monday News and Notes

Note to future girlfriends... Doritos do not make you look like this.

Note to future girlfriends… Doritos do not make you look like this.

In case you haven’t noticed, the Pylon has been eerily silent lately. If in fact you hadn’t noticed, thanks a lot, jerks. If you had noticed and assumed that Fearless Leader, RV, and Jason were too busy out saving the world amidst myriad tragedies and issues, then you should continue under that assumption. But as Occam said in his razor, the simplest explanation is often times the right one, and this is no exception. Coupled with a significant increase in real life workload thanks to some changing personnel landscape at the office and a promotion for me with virtually no news coming out of BSU footballland that couldn’t be quick hit on Twitter, and the result is a couple of weeks of a Pylon-free existence for you. That ceases to be the case now, as we are only five Saturdays away from the 2014 premier of the Fighting Football Cardinals. The offseason has been a whirlwind of news, so the short break the last couple weeks has been nice. No new locker rooms, no new buildings, no transfers in or out, and the chance to take a breath.

But what would a triumphant return to regular posting be without a news and notes post? Today’s celebrity is birthday girl Ali Landry, the poster child for Doritos-eating youths going through puberty in the late 90’s. She was a former pageant star and also was married to AC Slater Mario Lopez, and if you ask me that was the peak of her life career. In a moment of confession, I at first had her confused with Ali Larter and was really excited to use  the Varsity Blues whip cream bikini photo. Alas, we have to settle for the pitchwoman for Nacho Cheesier Doritos who celebrates her 40th birthday. On to the news and notes….

NewsNotesLogoPreseason Watch Lists are a good way for a program to generate some buzz and headlines in a long and boring offseason. Take last year for example, when it seemed like everyone who donned a BSU jersey was on some sort of list. This season, Jordan Williams has landed on the Biletnikoff Award Watchlist for the top WR, Jacob Richard has been named to the Lombardi Award Watchlist for the nation’s top down lineman, and Quake Edwards has been named to the Doak Walker Award Watchlist for the nation’s best RB. Good luck to all.

NewsNotesLogoJuly is preseason countdown month across the internet, and USAToday’s Paul Myerberg’s is usually one of the most well-documented and fair. He also used OTP’s Obama-ized Lembo icon as his Twitter avatar for a while, so suffice to see, Paul is A+ in my book. He ranks the Cardinals at #57 in his piece here. He ranks Indiana #69, so there’s that also.

NewsNotesLogoSpeaking of countdowns, the Orlando Sentinel ranks BSU #46 in their preseason previews. It always entertains me to read MAC previews from folks who don’t cover the MAC, especially when they act like the defensive unit will ultimately decide the fate of the team. I agree the defense is important and may even be the more productive unit this fall. But counting on your defense to win you a MAC title is like bringing a spork to a gatling gun fight. (via)

NewsNotesLogoI’m not sure what Rant Sports is, but if you can get past the pop ups and ads, they rank BSU #50. There. I saved you the click. (via)

NewsNotesLogoFrom the hardwood, the BSU Sports mothership takes you All Access with new BSU basketball assistant coach Danny Peters. (via)

NewsNotesLogoIn not-sports-at-all-but-definitely-more-important-news, BSU has implemented new Student Conduct standards for sexual assault, cyberstalking, and posting nude photos on social networking sites. As most who frequent OTP know, I’m in the field of higher education when not being a sarcastic prick on the internet, and it’s safe to say that creating an environment where students feel safe to come forward about such things is not an issue, it’s THE issue in higher ed at the moment. Between Jameis Winston, the Notre Dame sexual assault/suicide case, and the US Department of Education’s reveal of 55 campuses that were under scrutiny for their handling of sexual assault, it will be the issue of the next while in education. You can check out the details of BSU’s new policy here.

NewsNotesLogoIn happy trails news, BSU police chief Gene Burton is retiring July 31 after 34 years of service. I would estimate the number of parking tickets Burton’s office gave me to be 7 and the total number he was ultimately responsible for over three-plus decades of service somewhere in the neighborhood of eleventy billion.



Ball State Announces Football Awards

logo200Not necessarily “breaking” as it was announced this weekend, but a holiday on Monday and Fearless Leader being down with a sinus infection Tuesday means you get what you get when you get it. And seeing as it’s the dreaded offseason, any news is good news, even if it’s a couple of days late.

When I was a kid playing peewee football or little league or any other sport the highlight of the year was the end of year banquet. Unlike today’s sports leagues where everyone gets a trophy because parents these days are breeding generation after generation of kids that don’t value winning and competition, you got the hardware from a championship team, got some pizza, maybe some ice cream, and all was right with the world. You got to lord your accolades over those who didn’t get any or you got additional motivation to pick your game up for next year if you went home empty-handed. This have and have not dynamic is what made the sporting world go round. On Saturday in Muncie, several Cardinals entered the hallowed halls of the haves.

Ball State’s football team, under the direction of fourth-year head coach Pete Lembo, honored the 2013 Cardinals at the team’s annual Honors Banquet Saturday at the Horizon Convention Center in downtown Muncie.

Keith Wenning and Nathan Ollie were named the John Magnabosco Award winners as the team’s most valuable players on offense and defense, respectively. The Magnabosco Award is named in honor of Ball State’s head football coach from 1935-52. Magnabosco is the winningest football coach in Ball State history with 68 victories.

Wenning set Ball State single-season school records for passing yards (4,148), pass attempts (498), pass completions (319) and touchdown passes (35) in 2013. In addition, the All-Mid-American Conference Second-Team selection, also set career records for the Cardinals for passing yards (11,402), pass attempts (1,642), pass completions (1,035) and touchdown passes (92).

Ollie managed 72 total tackles in 2013, while leading the Cardinals with six quarterback hurries. Ollie ranked second on the team with 10 tackles for loss plus added four sacks. He earned All-MAC Second-Team honors as a defensive tackle for Ball State.

Zack Ryan was named the recipient of the John Hodge Award as Ball State’s Most Valuable Freshman. The Hodge Award is given in memory of the 1974 Cardinal Varsity Club Chairman who died in 1977. The CVC is an organization of benefactors to Ball State’s intercollegiate athletics program.

Ryan, a redshirt freshman linebacker, ranked third on the team with 92 total tackles plus was fourth on the team with eight tackles for loss. Ryan added 2.5 sacks, one fumble recovery, one forced fumble and one quarterback hurry on the season. Ryan started all 13 games in his initial campaign and tallied a career high 11 tackles at Northern Illinois.

Jamill Smith was named the recipient of the Bill Reynolds Special Teams Award. The award is named in memory of Reynolds, who spent 31 years as a volunteer in the Ball State athletics department with an emphasis on the football program prior to his death in the summer of 2000.

Smith, who was named to the All-MAC Second Team as a kick returner and the third team as a wide receiver and punt returner, was third on the team with 67 receptions for 911 yards and eight touchdowns. He led the Cardinals with 26 kick returns for 677 yards and a 26.0 average. Smith, who has been co-recipient of the award the past two seasons, tallied 10 punt returns for 84 yards on the season.

Joseph Fazio received the Gene Booker Academic Award. The Academic Award has been given annually since 1978 and was named in honor of Gene Booker for the first time in 2011. Booker was a member of Ball State’s 1949 football team, which is the only unbeaten and untied team in the school’s 87 years of football.

Fazio, who owns a 3.769 cumulative grade-point average on Ball State’s 4.0 scale as a finance major, played in 13 games in 2013. After joining the team as a walk-on prior to the 2010 season, Fazio played in the final 26 games of his career as a free safety and on special teams.

Senior defensive tackle Joel Cox received the Mark Hays Inspiration Award, which is given to the person who demonstrates the greatest ability to motivate and inspire his teammates. The award is given in the memory of the late son of Kermit and the late Mary Ellen Hays, who spent their lives as fans and supporters of Ball State’s athletics program.

Cox managed 43 tackles in 2013 with two tackles for loss, one pass breakup and one fumble recovery. Cox tallied his sixth career blocked kick when he blocked an extra point attempt at Eastern Michigan. He posted a career best six tackles at North Texas, vs. Kent State and vs. Miami University this season.

Zane Fakes was awarded the Paul Schudel Strength and Conditioning Award, which is given to honor Ball State’s football coach from 1985-94 who led the Cardinals to the 1989 and 1993 MAC Championships. He guided Ball State to its first ever NCAA Division IA bowl games with appearances in the 1989 California Raisin Bowl and the 1993 Las Vegas Bowl. Schudel completed his career with 60 wins, which was second in Ball State history, and ranked fifth in the Mid-American Conference with 47 victories.

Fakes, who was named to the All-MAC First Team as a tight end, managed 41 receptions for 410 yards and two touchdowns. Fakes earned his bachelor’s degree from Ball State last May and earned Capitol One Academic All-American honors this past fall, while pursuing his master’s degree.

The Bill Meitzler Scout Team Players of the Year were Denzel Pierce on offense and John Godfrey on defense. This award is given in honor of the former Cardinal Varsity Club Board member and longtime fan and supporter of Ball State football.

Connor Ryan, a senior wide receiver, received the Dave McClain Leadership Award. The McClain Award is given in memory of the deceased Dave McClain, who was Ball State’s head football coach from 1971-77 and guided the Cardinals to a 46-25-3 overall record. He guided the Cardinals into the Mid-American Conference and NCAA Division I football. McClain led Ball State to the 1976 MAC Championship in only the Cardinals second season in the conference. McClain’s final three Ball State teams posted a combined 26-7 overall mark and a 13-4 MAC mark.

Ryan, who missed two games and was limited for the majority of the season due to injury in 2013, managed 10 catches for 68 yards.

Ball State’s football program honored six with Ray Louthen Positional Awards, which honor the memory of Louthen, who was Ball State’s head football coach from 1962-67 and the school’s athletics director from 1970-81.

Jeffery Garrett (defensive back), Kenneth Lee (linebacker), Jonathan Newsome (defensive line), Willie Snead (wide receiver), Jahwan Edwards (running back) and Jordan Hansel (offensive line) were honored this season.

The Cardinals tallied a 10-3 overall record in 2013 and appeared in the GoDaddy Bowl, marking the school’s second straight bowl appearance. The 10 wins marked only third time in the school’s 89 years of football a team has posted at least 10 victories in a single season. The back-to-back bowl games marks only the second time for that to occur in the school’s history, while the seven MAC wins marked only the fifth time to reach that number since joining the league in 1975.

Your TL;DR synopsis: There are multiple people who made the 2013 version of the football Cardinals as successful as they were, which by the way, was arguably in the top 5 of successful seasons by most any measure. Congrats to the award winners and I hope the meal was as delicious as the pizza was when I was 8. (It probably wasn’t, because when you’re 8, pizza is the shit.)

UPDATE: We have received some news on the menu. From a source: Meal was some kind of roast, pecan breaded chicken, steam mixed veggies, quarter potatoes, salad, dessert was cheesecake for the most part. Yeah… I’ll take the pizza.

UPDATE 2: We’ve been informed that the chef for this particular banquet is actually a BSU football alum. I’m sure the meal was delicious, but for me, you could put filet mignon or turducken on the menu, and nothing is going to be as amazing as that pizza was for 8-year old me. FACT.

Cards Clean Up on the All-MAC Teams

MACLost in the “Will He or Won’t He?!” Lembogasm going on in the fanbase the last couple days was the fact that the Fighting Football Cardinals decimated the rest of the conference in the season ending All-MAC teams. The MAC announced yesterday the honors and the Cards led the conference with 15 names landing on the lists, though no Cardinal was awarded one of the premier type of season-long awards (Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, etc.). Your honored Cardinals:

First team
Offensive Linemen – Jordan Hansel
Tight End – Zane Fakes
Wide Receiver – Willie Snead
Down Lineman – Jonathan Newsome

Second team
Quarterback – Keith Wenning
Running Back – Jahwan Edwards
Inside Linebacker – Ben Ingle
Down Lineman – Nate Ollie
Defensive Back – Jeff Garrett
Kickoff Return Specialist – Jamill Smith

Third team
Center – Jacob Richard
Wide Receiver – Jordan Williams
Wide Receiver – Jamill Smith
Placekicker – Scott Secor
Punt Return Specialist – Jamill Smith

The things I think deserve at least a cursory grumble is Nathan Ollie not landing on the All-MAC 1st team, as well as Quake Edwards. Granted. David Fluellen from Toledo and Brandon Oliver from Buffalo are solid options, I just think Quake did more to deserve the honor this season. Perhaps the biggest qualm I have is Jordan Williams not landing a second-team selection but will own that’s probably just my bias toward Jordan. Though irksome, in reality the things mentioned are me just splitting hairs. Jamill Smith hit the trifecta of punt return, kick return, and wide receiver, so that makes up a bit for the mistakes above. Congrats to the Cards on the honors they well deserved, and now you may return to your worrying, hand-wringing, and fretting about flight plans. If you’d like to see the all conference teams in their entirety and see first hand some more fawning over of Jordan Lynch and Rod Carey, you can check it out here.

Kovanda On the Ray Guy Shortlist

We chatted a bit last week about the tradition of Specialist U, and Scott Kovanda has a one in three chance of adding to that legacy as he is a finalist for the Ray Guy Award for the nation’s top punter. He’ll also be heading to Orlando, Florida for the awards show on December 6th on an ESPN broadcasted show. Mark your calendars, and I hope Lee Corso gets his Scott Kovanda head ready to put on.

What say you, BSU release?

Scott Kovanda, a senior punter on the Ball State football team, is one of three finalists for the Ray Guy Award, which goes to the nation’s best collegiate punter.

“Scott Kovanda has had an outstanding career here at Ball State both on and off the field,” Ball State second-year head coach Pete Lembo says. “It has been a pleasure to work with him closely the last two years. I am pleased to see his accomplishments are being recognized despite having a relatively small number of opportunities to showcase his talent this season.”

The other two finalists for the award are Ryan Allen of Louisiana Tech and Kyle Christy of Florida.

The Ray Guy Award – named for football’s premier punter – honors the nation’s best collegiate punter. The Augusta Sports Council created the award in 2000. Along with awards such as the Heisman Trophy and the Doak Walker Award, the Ray Guy Award honors one of the most important members of any football team. The ASC presents the award live each year on The Home Depot College Football Awards broadcast on ESPN from Orlando, Fla. This year’s show is slated for Dec. 6.

Kovanda, who serves as a team captain for the Cardinals, has punted 38 times this season and pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line 23 times. He has helped Ball State to rank fourth in the country in punt return defense with the Cardinals allowing only 1.5 yards per return and having only four punts returned this season. He has punted for 1,540 yards and a 40.5 average this season, including six punts of 50 or more yards.

One of 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award in 2011, Kovanda has 220 career punts for 9,029 yards and a 41.0 career average. He ranks fourth all-time at Ball State in career punt yardage, fourth in career punts and third in career punt average.

The Ray Guy Award winner is selected by a national voting body of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) coaches, sports information directors, national media and former Ray Guy Award winners. Punters are evaluated on their overall statistics and contribution to the team. Particular emphasis is place on the following statistics: net average, percentage of total punts inside the 20-yard line and percentage of punts not returned.

Kovanda is the latest in a long line of punters from Ball State.

Brad Maynard (1993-96) set the Ball State career record with a 44.2 average and was a consensus All-American as a senior. Maynard was also named the Mid-American Conference Player of the Year and the MAC’s Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. He competed 15 years in the National Football League.

Reggie Hodges, the punter for the Cleveland Browns, is in his seventh year in the NFL. Chris Miller completed his Ball State career in 2008 ranked second in Ball State record books with 10,342 punt yards and broke Maynard’s career average with a 44.77 mark.

Kovanda marks the second player in the history of the ESPN Home Depot Awards Show to be invited as a finalist for an award. Dante Ridgeway was one of three finalists for the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s most outstanding wide receiver in 2004.

Join us in wishing good luck to Scott for this really remarkably prestigious award. It’s rare that punters get to enjoy the spotlight, but I hope he gets his chance.

The Legacy of Specialist U Continues

Steven Schott (left) and Scott Kovanda (right) are in the running for two national awards

Some football programs are known for the staggering offense. Take the current version of the Oregon Ducks. Ask even a casual fan of college football and usually after they mention the uniforms or the mascot, they’ll reference the Oregon offense. Watching the speed and precision of the Duck attack is like poetry in motion and like a good indie record or an under the radar movie, it will suck in even the most casual observer and leave a lasting impression.

On the flip side of the line of scrimmage, there’s the defense. Teams like LSU and Alabama in recent memory have been known to use their defense as the ladder they climb to the heights of athletic consciousness. It isn’t as sexy as stunning offense or eye-popping scoreboard explosions, but the purists will tell you that offense comes and goes but defense rarely completely falters.

For Ball State, we’ve had a little of column A and not much of column B over the last decade. The offense in 2008 was obviously one of the best in BSU history (recent or otherwise) but outside of that year, I wouldn’t say that offense and defense has ever been something that BSU can hang their hat on in terms of the national conversation. But that doesn’t mean that the Cardinals aren’t worth talking about.

For years, BSU to their fans and diehards have been known as Punter U. That’s really to be expected when a program lands top-notch punters on NFL rosters like Brad Maynard and Reggie Hodges. However, most fans forget about John Diettrich who was a placekicker for the Houston Oilers in 1987. Perhaps a more appropriate nickname for this Cardinal team is Specialist U.

Those specialists probably more than any other position group get exponentially more blame than credit and yet in many cases have the biggest impact on the course of a game and season. When Maynard was at BSU he won Defensive Player of the Year and MVP. As. A. Punter. Ask the defense that year if he made their lives easier by lengthening the field. Ask the offense in recent memory how good it was to have Ian McGarvey to count on when a drive stalled out inside the opponent’s 35. Though not as sexy as a stifling defense or off the charts offense, it’s just as critical if not more so. Special teams are appropriately named.

So it comes as no surprise that the legacy of Specialist U is continuing this year as Scott Kovanda has been named a semi-finalist for the Ray Guy Award for the top collegiate punter and Steven Schott has been named a semi-finalist for the Lou Groza Award for the nation’s top placekicker. To the BSU releases…

Scott Kovanda, a senior on the Ball State football team, has been selected as one of 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award.

The Ray Guy Award – named for football’s premier punter – honors the nation’s best collegiate punter. The Augusta Sports Council created the award in 2000. Along with awards such as the Heisman Trophy and the Doak Walker Award, the Ray Guy Award honors one of the most important members of any football team.

This marks the second straight season Kovanda has been named a semifinalist for the award. A Ball State team captain, he has helped the Cardinals rank fourth in the nation in punt return defense. Of his 35 punts this season, only four have been returned for a 1.5 average, and he has pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line 22 times.

Kovanda has punted 35 times for 1,442 yards and a 41.2 average. He has 217 career punts for 8,931 career punt yards and a 41.2 career average. Kovanda ranks fourth in Ball State history in career punt yardage, fourth in career punts and third in career average.

The Ray Guy Award winner is selected by a national voting body of Football Bowl Subdivision coaches, sports information directors, national media and former Ray Guy Award winners. Punters are evaluated on their overall statistics and contribution to the team. Particular emphasis is place on the following statistics: net average, percentage of total punts inside the 20-yard line and percentage of punts not returned.

The presentation of the Ray Guy Award will be featured on The Home Depot College Football Awards live Thurs., December 6 at 7:30 pm ET on ESPN.

Ball State is 7-3 overall and 4-2 in Mid-American Conference play. The Cardinals host Ohio Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Scheumann Stadium before completing the regular season at Miami University Nov. 23. Ball State is bowl eligible for a second straight season under second-year head coach Pete Lembo.

For Schott’s award potential…

Steven Schott (Massillon, Ohio/Washington H.S.), a senior placekicker for the Ball State football team, has been selected as one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, which goes to the nation’s most outstanding collegiate football placekicker.

The Palm Beach County Sports Commission released the names of the 20 semifinalists. Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches, collegiate media relations directors, past Groza winners and regional and national football writers will select three finalists. The finalists will be announced Nov. 19, and honored at the 21st annual Lou Groza Collegiate Placekicker Awards Banquet Dec. 4, in West Palm Beach, Fla. The winner will be announced live on the Home Depot ESPN College Football Awards Show Thurs., Dec. 6.

Schott ranks second in the nation with 2.22 field goals made per game and is tied for 15th in the country in scoring with 10.33 points per contest. He has made 20 field goals in 2012, which ranks second on Ball State’s single-season chart. Schott needs six field goals to set the school’s single-season record and pass John Diettrich, who made 25 field goals in 1985.

Schott connected on a career long 52-yard field goal in the first quarter vs. Eastern Michigan in the season opener and made a 51-yard field goal in the second quarter of Ball State’s win at Indiana. Schott made a 42-yard field goal as time expired to give the Cardinals a 41-39 victory at Indiana.

Ball State is 7-3 overall and 4-2 in the Mid-American Conference. The Cardinals host Ohio Nov. 14, and complete the regular season at Miami University Nov. 23.

Good luck to both Scott and Steven as they attempt to carry the torch of Specialist U!

Briggs Orsbon Named Academic AllAmerican

While ESPN is airing its college football awards show and the Heisman is this weekend, BSU got its own taste of award awesomeness today as senior wide receiver Briggs Orsbon was named a 1st Team Academic All American. Per the BSU release…

Briggs Orsbon, a senior member of the Ball State 2011 football team, has been named to the Capital One Academic All-America First Team as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

Orsbon, who owns a 4.0 grade-point average on Ball State’s 4.0 scale as a risk management and finance major, is the first Ball State football player selected to the Capital One Academic All-America First Team since Travis Barclay was named to the squad in 2002 and 2003. Orsbon becomes only the eighth football student-athlete in school history to earn first-team honors.

“We could not be happier for Briggs to be the recipient of this prestigious honor,” Ball State first-year head coach Pete Lembo says. “He is a model student-athlete and a tremendous competitor. Briggs was a great leader and a major contributor to our team’s success this year. We are confident he will continue to be an asset to the University as an alum of our football program.”

A 2011 All-Mid-American Conference Second-Team selection, Orsbon was also a candidate for the 2011 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award. He is a two-time Capital One Academic All-District choice and a two-time Academic All-MAC recipient.

Orsbon, one of Ball State’s team captains in 2011, led the Cardinals with 66 catches for 649 receiving yards and four touchdown catches this season. In addition to his pass catching skills in 2011, Orsbon tallied a 19.9 yards per kickoff return average.

With his five catches at Northern Illinois this season, Orsbon became only the second player in Ball State history to tally 200 or more career receptions. He completed his career with 204 catches and ranks second in the Cardinals record books behind only Dante Ridgeway’s 238 receptions from 2002-04. With his 103 receiving yards at Western Michigan, Orsbon became only the sixth player in Ball State history to post over 2,000 yards receiving in a career. He completes his collegiate career with 2,218 receiving yards, which ranks fifth all time in Ball State history. Orsbon set MAC Championship Game records with a career high 13 catches for a career best 141 yards vs. Buffalo in the 2008 league title game.

Ball State entered the 2011-12 academic year ranked 32nd in the country all-time in Capital One Academic All-America selections.

The Cardinals finished the 2011 season with a 6-6 overall record and a 4-4 MAC mark. Ball State was bowl eligible for the first time since the 2008 season and won six games for the fourth time in 10 seasons.

The Cardinals may have closed the books on the ’11 season, but it’s nice to see Briggs get some love from the nation’s SIDs. I would venture a guess that if there were an award for a senior that has been through the most chaos in his career Briggs would be near the top of that list as well. Always nice to see a student-athlete get recognized for the “student” portion of that  moniker. Congrats, Briggs!

2009 Sports Blog Heisman

Similar to last season, OTP has been asked to cast our official ballot for the SportsBlog Heisman Trophy hosted over at The Blue Workhorse. This season, significantly tougher than last year, mostly because unlike last year, where there was a plethora of very worthy candidates, that’s not really the case in 2009. Perhaps it’s the lack of QBs that are head and shoulders above the pack. Perhaps it’s a lack of a go-to candidate being the driving force behind a team’s national title hopes. Hard to say… but we’ve gone from the QB Triple Threat match of 2009 to a year that a defensive tackle is getting serious consideration as a Heisman Trophy finalist. Strange times that we’re living in.

In terms of OTP’s ballot, I solicited some feedback from Edge and RV, but they are not responsible for the logic here or the ballot that follows. Unless you hate it or vehemently disagree. In that case, it’s all Edge. I looked at this season much the same way as last year, and considered the Heisman Trophy to be a measure of value to the team. Does the team have to be successful? Of course, otherwise the value is diminished. Does the team have to play decent competition? You bet. Otherwise we’d be awarding the Heisman every year to some freak from a mid-major school that just rings up ridiculous statistics against inferior competition. So I consider our ballot to be an evaluation of a player’s results, coupled with the team’s success, that was achieved against opponents of note. Simple, right?

OTP’s Sports Blog Heisman Ballot

1.) Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford: To call Toby Gerhart dominant would be a disservice. In fact, I’m not sure adjectives exist to fully grasp the impact that Gerhart had on not only Stanford, but the teams he played against. Considering only his statistics, Gerhart’s 1736 yards and 26 TDs is ridiculous. Taking a further look at how those yards were gained tells a more complete story. The Cardinal went to Gerhart early and often, and he always delivered, including a pounding of Oregon for 223 and 3 TDs. In terms of overall value to the Cardinal, Gerhart was held under 100 yards twice this season, and both were losses for Stanford. It’s safe to say that without Gerhart, this 2009 season for Stanford would have unfolded considerably different and their 8-4 record would have been an unreachable pipe dream, and he clearly excels in the areas of performance, value, and strength of opponents.

2.) Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama: In years past, being the go to guy on an undefeated national championship contender was a near sure-fire way to garner votes for the Heisman. Mark Ingram unfortunately is overshadowed at times by a killer defense for the Crimson Tide, who collectively are more responsible for the success of Bama than Ingram. His stats, while not as impressive as Gerhart’s, are elevated (at least in my mind) because of who they came against. Running roughshod over the SEC is truly worthy of recognition, and Ingram’s 1542 yards and 15 TDs against some of the best defenses in the country make his stats considerably more impressive than they already are. Ingram did struggle with injuries a bit this season that kept him out of the Auburn game, but did bounce back with a 3 TD performance and critical conversions in the Florida game that helped Bama to the SEC title.

3.) Colt McCoy, QB, Texas: When 2009 dawned, it largely appeared that the Heisman Trophy was Colt McCoy’s to lose. As Tebow was knocked down and out, Bradford was injured, and Texas continued to win it was a virtual certainty that McCoy would add his name to the list of winners. McCoy certainly performed adequately throughout the season, and his team is undefeated and playing for a national championship, but McCoy’s 09 numbers pale in comparison to some other contenders this season and most definitely in comparison to his own numbers from 2008. Having said that, though, you’d be hard pressed to find a player across the country save for Tebow, more valuable than McCoy for his team’s attitude, performance, and success. 3512 yards and 27 TDs are the raw numbers through the air, but often overlooked is McCoy’s ability to scramble and use his legs for conversions, TDs, and keeping opposing defenses in check in critical situations. While the Heisman is a single-year award, there is some level of career achievement fueling McCoy’s votes this season, and I’m ok with that.

This award allows us to give an honorable mention to a candidate that is worthy of some attention even though they didn’t deserve a Top 3 spot on the ballot. Clearly, we could reach down and pick someone obvious like Ndamukong Suh or CJ Spiller, because frankly if our ballot went to 5, they would be there. Instead, we’ll go a bit outside of the box. Fittingly, our honorable mention is also a running back, as 2010 seemed to be dominated by them

Honorable Mention: Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh: To have a freshman running back succeed at the college level is a rarity. To have a freshman running back dominate is virtually unheard of. To have a freshman running back do all that and never once cough up the football is a rarity so unbelievable that it got Lewis recognized on our ballot. 1640 yards and 16 TDs were Lewis’ totals through the regular season, but more impressive is the amount of times he carried the ball. Lewis went over 20 carries 10 times this season, including a remarkable 47 carries in the season-ender against Cincy. I think it’s safe to say that Pitt has found the next version of LeSean McCoy and their 9-3 season rests solely in the hands of Lewis.

BSU Announces Season Awards

MVP Drew Duffin and Stan Parrish at the Football Banquet

It’s that time of the year when programs who aren’t going Bowling are celebrating each other, the seniors, and the scout team rather than making travel plans or pregaming for a Bowl opponent. Following suit, Ball State did just that on Sunday evening, recognizing those that were deserving of it through the season-o-doom. From the BSU release (emphasis added by us):

MUNCIE, Ind. — Drew Duffin (Avon, Ind./Avon H.S.), a fifth-year defensive tackle for the Ball State University football team, was selected by his teammates to receive Ball State’s John Magnabosco Award as the team’s Most Valuable Player.

The Magnabosco Award is named in honor of Ball State’s head football coach from 1935-52, and was presented at the team’s annual Honors Banquet Sunday at Ball State’s Worthen Arena. Magnabosco is the winningest football coach in Ball State history with 68 victories.

Duffin, who played in 48 games in his four seasons and started 22 outings for the Cardinals, registered 129 total tackles, including 11.5 tackles for loss in 2009. He also tallied one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery as a senior.

Duffin and Alex Knipp (Amherst, Ohio/Steele H.S.) were co-recipients of the team’s Ray Louthen Award, which is given in honor of Ball State’s former football coach and athletics director for outstanding contributions to the team on and off the field.

Knipp, a senior free safety, played in all 52 games in his four-year career and started the final 22 contests. He managed nine career interceptions, and ranked third on the team in 2009 with 82 total tackles.

Travis Freeman (Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville H.S.) and Eric Williams (Indianapolis, Ind./Warren Central H.S.) were selected as co-recipients of the John Hodge Award as Ball State’s Most Valuable Freshmen.

The Hodge Award is given in memory of the 1974 Cardinal Varsity Club Chairman who died in 1977. The CVC is an organization of benefactors to Ball State’s intercollegiate athletics program.

Freeman started the final 11 games of the season as a true freshman linebacker. He ranked second on the team and is 15th in the Mid-American Conference in tackles with 93. Freeman led the Cardinals with 10 tackles at Temple and with seven at Eastern Michigan plus tied for team-high honors with nine tackles vs. Ohio. He managed a career high 11 tackles at Army and at Auburn.

Williams, a true freshman H-Back for the Cardinals, rushed for a career high 88 yards vs. Bowling Green and rushed a career high 12 times at Northern Illinois. He rushed for 362 yards and four touchdowns on 64 carries in 2009. Williams recorded the first rushing touchdown of his career on a 30-yard run with 12:16 remaining in the third quarter vs. Bowling Green. He was also Ball State’s top kick returner with 34 for 812 yards and a 23.9 average.

Kyle Kuntz (Vandalia, Ohio/Butler H.S.), a fifth-year free safety, and Ian McGarvey (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove H.S.), a junior placekicker, were named co-recipients of the Bill Reynolds Special Teams Award.

The Bill Reynolds Special Teams Award is named in memory of Reynolds, who spent 31 years as a volunteer in the Ball State athletics department with an emphasis on the football program prior to his death in the summer of 2000.

Kuntz played in all 12 games as a senior and in 46 games in his career. He tallied the first fumble recovery of his career as a part of Ball State’s special teams vs. Toledo. Kuntz blocked the first punt of his career vs. New Hampshire, and tallied a career high four tackles vs. Central Michigan.

McGarvey connected on 18-of-21 field goals and 14 extra points to lead the Cardinals in scoring with 68 total points. Against Toledo, he connected on his 81st consecutive extra point dating back to Nov. 13, 2007, shattering the previous Ball State record of 40 by Brian Jackson in 2003-04, before missing on his next attempt. McGarvey made a career long 48-yard field goal vs. New Hampshire plus made a 47-yard attempt against the Wildcats and vs. Toledo. He tied his career high with three field goals made in a game vs. New Hampshire, at Auburn, vs. Toledo and at Western Michigan.

Brandon Crawford (Fort Wayne, Ind./South H.S.), a 33-year-old senior defensive end, received the Mark Hays Inspiration Award, which is given to the person who demonstrates the greatest ability to motivate and inspire his teammates. The award is given in the memory of the late son of Kermit and Mary Ellen Hays, who are longtime fans and supporters of the Ball State athletics program.

Crawford, who along with teammate Madaris Grant (Cincinnati, Ohio/Mount Healthy H.S.), was also honored for serving as a team captain for the Cardinals in 2009, started his final 39 games at Ball State after completing a career in the Marines. He was second on the team with 11.5 tackles for loss and three sacks on the season. Crawford ranks eighth in the MAC in tackles for loss.

Ball State’s football team presented three players with the Bill Meitzler Scout Team Player of the Year Award, which is given in honor of the former Cardinal Varsity Club Board member and longtime fan and supporter of Ball State football.

Otis Brown (Gainesville, Fla./Gainesville H.S.), a true freshman wide receiver who redshirted for the Cardinals this season, received the Meitzler Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year award. On defense the award was given to co-recipients Harold Hogue (Indianapolis, Ind./Cathedral H.S.), a true freshman defensive lineman, and Zac Jordan (Cincinnati, Ohio/Elder H.S.), a sophomore free safety.

Tanner Justice (Indianapolis, Ind./Cathedral H.S.), a fifth-year senior quarterback who started the final five games of the season, received the Ball State Football Academic Award. He graduated from Ball State last May with a degree in business and a 3.54 grade-point average on the school’s 4.0 scale. Justice spent his final season working on his MBA at Ball State. He completed 51-of-105 passes for 594 yards with two touchdowns on the season.

Big congratulations are in order for the award recipients. While it’s sad to see guys like Drew Duffin, Brandon Crawford, and Alex Knipp leave the program after 4 good years, it’s some level of comfort that extremely young players were recognized as well. Players like Williams, Freeman, and Brown will be the future of this program, and it’s good to see them get the recognition sometimes needed to keep a young player inspired and hungry.

We’ll have a bit more on the 09 campaign through this week, but this season is officially in the books and over. Thank God.

MAC Awards Announced

Straight from the MAC…

Cleveland, Ohio – A total of 26 repeat selections from last year’s All-MAC team highlights this year’s postseason football awards in the Mid-American Conference.

Central Michigan senior quarterback Dan LeFevour (Downers Grove, Ill.) was tabbed as the winner of the 28th Vern Smith Leadership Award, as voted on by the conference head coaches. The award is presented annually to the conference’s top football player in honor of Vern Smith, the former University of Toledo Athletic Director.

LeFevour led the Chippewas to an 8-0 conference record, 10-2 overall, and is tied with Graham Harrell (Texas Tech) and Colt Brennan (Hawaii) for the most total touchdowns of any player in Football Bowl Subdivision history with 146 touchdowns (99 passing, 46 rushing, 1 receiving). LeFevour is the conference career leader in total offensive yards (15,140), attempts (1,669), completions (1,110), passing yards (12,255) and is tied for second in touchdown passes (99).

In other awards voted by the MAC News Media Association, Temple was recognized with three awards including Coach of the Year, Al Golden, Freshman of the Year with running back Bernard Pierce and Defensive Player of the Year with defensive end Adrian Robinson. Central Michigan also was recognized with two honors as Offensive Player of the Year went to Dan LeFevour and Special Teams Player of the Year went to kick returner Antonio Brown.

Pierce, a freshman running back from Ardmore, Pa., helped ignite the Temple offense this season as the Owls ranked 21st in the country in rushing with an average of 192.3 yards per game. Pierce led the MAC and ranked 13th in the nation in rushing with 1,308 yards on 224 carries and 15 rushing touchdowns.

LeFevour, a senior quarterback, led the Chippewas’ in rushing with 157 carries for 650 yards (4.1 avg.) and 14 rushing touchdowns and was 257-of-362 passing for 2,788 yards and 25 touchdowns. LeFevour ranked ninth in the nation in passing efficiency (155.72 rating) and ranked 25th in the country with 2,788 passing yards.

Robinson, a sophomore defensive end from Harrisburg, Pa., was part of a Temple defense that ranked 20th in the nation in run defense and allowed only 108.3 yards per game. Robinson led the MAC and tied for tenth in the country with 12 sacks on the year. In addition, Robinson totaled 42 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles and one interception.

Brown, a junior kick returner from Miami, Fla., had 20 punt returns for 270 yards (13.5 avg.) and two touchdowns and also added 27 kickoff returns for 550 yards (20.4 avg.). Brown ranked eighth in the country in all-purpose yards with 2,093 yards (174.4 ypg).

Golden, in his fourth season as head coach at Temple, guided the Owls to a 9-3 overall record, 7-1 in the MAC. Golden led the program to nine consecutive wins during the season and has revamped the football program during his four seasons in Philadelphia. Since arriving at Temple, the Owls have improved in wins each consecutive season under Golden, with one win in 2006, four wins in 2007, five wins in 2008 to nine wins in 2009.

Temple led the way with eight first team selections, followed by Central Michigan with six first team selections. Overall, Temple set the pace with 15 honorees, followed by Ohio with 12 and Central Michigan with 11.

Defensive Back Barry Church (Toledo) becomes one of only three players in MAC history to be named a four-time All-MAC first team selection. Church joins P Dave Zastudil, Ohio University (1998-2001) and QB Brian McClure, Bowling Green (1982-85) on this list.

Those who made their third consecutive first team selections were DB Davonte Shannon (Buffalo) and PR Antonio Brown (Central Michigan). Players who made their second consecutive first team selections included WR Naaman Roosevelt (Buffalo), DL Frank Zombo (Central Michigan) and LB Nick Bellore (Central Michigan).

2009 MAC Specialty Award Winners
Vern Smith Leadership Award Winner: Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan
Coach of the Year: Al Golden, Temple
Offensive Player of the Year: Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan
Defensive Player of the Year: Adrian Robinson, Temple
Special Teams Player of the Year: Antonio Brown, Central Michigan
Freshman of the Year: Bernard Pierce, Temple

All-MAC First Team Offense
Position – Name – School
Quarterback – Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan #^~
Center – Eddie Adamski, Northern Illinois %
Offensive Lineman – Allen Ollenburger, Central Michigan
Offensive Lineman – Jason Onyebuagu, Northern Illinois %
Offensive Lineman – Darius Morris, Temple
Offensive Lineman – Colin Madison, Temple
Tight End – Jesse Rack, Buffalo
Wide Receiver – Freddie Barnes, Bowling Green
Wide Receiver – Antonio Brown, Central Michigan @
Wide Receiver – Naaman Roosevelt, Buffalo @&
Wide Receiver – Stephen Williams, Toledo #!
Running Back – Bernard Pierce, Temple
Running Back – Chad Spann, Northern Illinois
Placekicker – Matt Weller, Ohio

All-MAC First Team Defense
Position – Name – School
Outside Linebacker – Lee Renfro, Ohio
Outside Linebacker – Elijah Joseph, Temple
Inside Linebacker – Nick Bellore, Central Michigan @
Inside Linebacker – Cobrani Mixon, Kent State
Down Lineman – Andre Neblett, Temple #!
Down Lineman – Adrian Robinson, Temple
Down Lineman – Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple
Down Lineman – Frank Zombo, Central Michigan @
Defensive Back – Barry Church, Toledo @^~
Defensive Back – Davonte Shannon, Buffalo @^
Defensive Back – Jaiquawn Jarrett, Temple
Defensive Back – Brian Lainhart, Kent State #
Punter – Matt Rinehart, Kent State

All-MAC First Team Specialists
Position – Name – School
Kickoff Return Specialist – Chris Garrett, Ohio
Punt Return Specialist – Antonio Brown, Central Michigan @^

All-MAC Second Team Offense
Position – Name – School
Quarterback – Tim Hiller, Western Michigan %
Center – Colin Miller, Central Michigan
Offensive Lineman – Peter Bittner, Buffalo
Offensive Lineman – Brandon Brooks, Miami
Offensive Lineman – Anthony Parker, Western Michigan
Offensive Lineman – Devin Tyler, Temple
Tight End – Jimmy Scheidler, Bowling Green
Wide Receiver – Eric Page, Toledo
Wide Receiver – Bryan Anderson, Central Michigan @!~
Wide Receiver – Taylor Price, Ohio
Wide Receiver – LaVon Brazill, Ohio
Running Back – Brandon West, Western Michigan %!
Running Back – MiQuale Lewis, Ball State @
Placekicker – Mike Salerno, Northern Illinois #

All-MAC Second Team Defense
Position – Name – School
Outside Linebacker – Austin Pritchard, Western Michigan @
Outside Linebacker – Robert Eddins, Ball State
Inside Linebacker – Brian Wagner, Akron
Inside Linebacker – Noah Keller, Ohio #
Down Lineman – Brandon Crawford, Ball State #&
Down Lineman – Jake Coffman, Northern Illinois
Down Lineman – Monte Simmons, Kent State
Down Lineman – Brandon Bice, Northern Illinois
Defensive Back – Mike Newton, Buffalo #
Defensive Back – Thad Turner, Ohio
Defensive Back – Josh Gordy, Central Michigan
Defensive Back – Miguel Graham, Akron
Punter – Zach Johnson, Eastern Michigan

All-MAC Second Team Specialists
Position – Name – School
Kickoff Return Specialist – James Nixon, Temple
Punt Return Specialist – LaVon Brazill, Ohio

All-MAC Third Team Offense
Position – Name – School
Quarterback – Tyler Sheehan, Bowling Green
Center – John Palumbo, Temple
Offensive Lineman – Joe Flading, Ohio
Offensive Lineman – Shane Steffy, Bowling Green
Offensive Lineman – Chris Rodgers, Ohio
Offensive Lineman – Corey Woods, Akron
Tight End – Steve Maneri, Temple
Wide Receiver – Robert Arnheim, Western Michigan
Wide Receiver – Juan Nunez, Western Michigan %
Wide Receiver – Armand Robinson, Miami
Wide Receiver – Brett Hamlin, Buffalo
Running Back – DaJuane Collins, Toledo %
Running Back – Me’co Brown, Northern Illinois
Placekicker – Alex Steigerwald, Toledo

All-MAC Third Team Defense
Position – Name – School
Outside Linebacker – Andre Hatchett, Eastern Michigan
Outside Linebacker – Amara Kamara, Temple
Inside Linebacker – Alex Joseph, Temple
Inside Linebacker – Archie Donald, Toledo
Down Lineman – Almondo Sewell, Akron %!
Down Lineman – Ernie Hodge, Ohio
Down Lineman – Larry Knight, Central Michigan
Down Lineman – Sean Murnane, Central Michigan %
Defensive Back – Gerald Moore, Ohio
Defensive Back – Dominique Harris, Temple
Defensive Back – Anthony Kokal, Miami
Defensive Back – Jalil Carter, Akron
Punter – Ben Armer, Western Michigan

All-MAC Third Team Specialists
Position – Name – School
Kickoff Return Specialist – Dashan Miller, Akron
Punt Return Specialist – Tommy Davis, Northern Illinois

@ 2008 First team All-MAC
# 2008 Second team All-MAC
% 2008 Third team All-MAC

^ 2007 First team All-MAC
! 2007 Second team All-MAC
& 2007 Third team All-MAC

~ 2006 First team All-MAC

This version sure is a lot different than last year, when the All-MAC teams were dominated by Ball Staters. Little surprised EW didn’t get a little love for his specialty role as a punt returner, but I can’t say the rest of the MAC even noticed. They are obviously too busy fawning over CMU and Temple. Congrats to Quale, Crawdaddy, and Eddins… well deserved recognition for sure.


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