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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…

Field_I.2

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?

 

Join the Hardcore Ball State Fans on the OTP Boards

OTP Logo 200As of about 96 hours ago, there were two places were Ball State fans congregated. For your sarcastic news and notes, you’d hit up here at the Pylon, which you’re already familiar with otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. However, there was another Ball State hangout that got a fair bit of traffic its own self in BSUFans.com, the messageboard home of the hardest of the hard and the most fanatical of the fanatics. It was the home of notorious Cardinal fans, alums, parents, and people you’d be surprised to know were active posters.

Recently though, BSUFans seems to have met its demise, if not permanently, at least until the domain registration issues can be worked out. But the business goings on in the internet and domain servers are no reason for Cardinals fans to lose their place to congregate. Hence, the recreation and relaunch of the OTP Boards. There are two ways to get there, one being clicking here, and the other being clicking over in the left hand sidebar under the appropriate heading of “OTP Messageboard”. You’ll need to register to post, but that’s a painless process and not the same sort of verification thing that BSUFans was. So there’s that.

The site is new and still evolving, but there is a suggestion thread for you to recommend changes or set up features that would make your board experience a more pleasant one. So come on over, we don’t bite. and get your Chirp on at the OTP Boards.

[VIDEO] New Cardinal Cabanas Coming to the Scheu for Ball State Football

I remember back when I was a student, I was fortunate to watch a couple of games from the old Ball State Stadium pressbox suites. “Suites” was a loosely defined term back then, as the amenities were limited to some mini ham sandwiches and metal folding chairs. Ambiance, this did not have. Since then, the powers that be in Muncie have improved nearly every facet of gameday operations, including the luxury boxes at The Scheu.

No one can argue that the luxury boxes are gorgeous. Those frigid days in central Indiana in late November? Doesn’t bother suite-goers at all as they are behind glass. But it’s biggest draw (weather protection) can also become its greatest curse in that there is a significant removal from the true football game experience. You can’t hear the crowd. You can’t feel the band. But no longer are your premium luxury options limited to private boxes and a thick barrier between you and the Cardinal football experience. Ball State has a new and (in my opinion) awesome option that lets you be as close to the action as possible, all while eating and drinking with up to 24 of your closest friends…. the all new Cardinal Cabanas!

What’s the Cardinal Cabanas? Let General Manager of Ball State properties Chris Ulm explain…

Green space and cold beers? I’m sold. Here’s the print version of the Cabana details: Cardinal Cabana Information

So contact Chris Ulm and bring your drinking boots to The Scheu on gameday Saturdays, Cabana-style!

Ball State Softball Proves Again BSU>IU

Other StuffYou’d think that by now fans of That School in Bloomington would understand their hierarchy in the college sports field in Indiana. I’d say somewhere right above Ivy Tech and Purdue-Calumet but that’s probably being generous to the Hoosiers. Ball State football has done their part the last three times they’ve faced IU to demonstrate their dominance, and tonight Ball State softball jumped in on taking a few swings at the Indiana piñata, stomping out the Hoosiers 19-9. I’m sure it would have been worse had the game not ended in the fifth inning because of the run rule, you know, the one that exists to stop clearly superior teams from continuing to embarrass lower echelon teams as run after run after run after run pours on.

That’s right, ladies and gents. They were so concerned with the lack of performance from Indiana, they stopped the game rather than make them continue. Gosh, that feels good to write. It probably feels good to read. Go ahead, read it again. I’ll wait.

Selena Reyna was the biggest culprit of this thumping, dropping two homeruns, one of which was a grandslam that sent the contest to the run rule, along with a single and a walk. That’s a hell of a day at the dish, and I’d say that the junior from Houston earned an extra orange slice and a Capri Sun for that. The whole team performed well, though. Ten Cardinals had at least one hit, and the Cards scored in every inning. And the most important thing, Indiana did far worse.

It was the 400th career win for head coach Tyra Perry and I’m glad they scheduled  such a lower-caliber team to pick up the milestone win against.

Ball State Spring Game Recap and Thoughts

logo200Spring Games the nation over are a mixed bag of results. You have the small-market teams that struggle for eyeballs and attention that do more for the fans than progression of the installed offensive and defensive gameplans. You have your large blue bloods that generate upwards of 50,000 for a glorified scrimmage with playcalling close to the chest and a cat that never gets let out of the bag. For Ball State on Saturday, it was certainly more of the former than the latter, but there was critical pieces of information that I was able to obtain that make me feel alright or dare I say positive about where the Cardinals are at for their 2015 campaign.

The position groups…

  • Quarterbacks: The biggest thing I take away from Spring Game 2015 is that this offense is Jack Milas’ to do with what he wants. There’s an “-OR-” in the spring depth chart indicating the starting job was still an up for grabs TBD thing, but Milas’ grasp on the QB1 spot is as tight as its ever been. As it should be. Jack looked good from the get go and the offense was humming, marching down the field on its two opening drives with ease. Ozzie Mann saw time as well, and he showed a gorgeous deep ball on a 65-yard completion with near perfect accuracy, but the starting spot is firmly in the grasp of Jack Milas. Honestly, I’m pretty pleased with what I saw from both, as I don’t think there is going to be a steep drop off should something occur or a contingency plan is needed. I don’t think either are to the level of being able to positively determine the outcome of a game based solely on their skill or will a la Keith Wenning or Nate Davis, but I have moved the QB position from “concern” to “satisfied”, and that’s a good thing.
  • Running Backs: The biggest offensive concern going in was how would Quake Edwards be replaced. Life after Quake won’t be the same, but it won’t be nearly as bumpy as expected, thanks largely to youth. The standout unexpected performance of the spring game was freshman James Gilbert who looked speedy, elusive, and explosive. He will give MAC defenses fits and was almost reminiscent of Corey Sykes. Sophomore Darian Green was somewhat limited in his opportunities but made the most of them, also demonstrating explosion and quickness. Teddy Williamson was Teddy Williamson, whose “average” is still pretty darn good. All in all, it was an exhale moment as the lack of Quake is going to take some getting used to but the depth at running back was of critical importance to see and feel given the injury to Horactio Banks.
  • Wide Receivers: If you wanted a position group that you could watch that would give you an almost giddy excitement and optimism about the 2015 campaign, then this is the group to watch. The depth is outstanding, the skill is top-flight, and the ability for a big play is there on every snap. Jordan Williams? Star. Still. KeVonn Mabon? Star. Still. I hesitate to say this in terms of expectations, but I think Corey Lacanaria has the opportunity to be one of the best in the MAC from the slot. The thing that gave me the greatest enjoyment was knowing the others in the group like Chris Shillings, Aaron Hepp, Efe Scott-Emuakpor, or Jordan Hogue can spot relieve or step up themselves. It’s not hyperbole to say this is the deepest receiver corps in my time covering the team, by far the best group in the MAC, and I would argue top-to-bottom is probably in the level of most Power 5 conference schools.
  • Offensive Line: As we talked about with former Card Ben Jacobi on the OTPcast a few weeks ago, there’s probably no harder group to judge than the offensive line. Either fans don’t know what to look for or it’s hard to see what’s going right given the only time a play is deemed successful for the group is when something bad (sack, penetration, etc) doesn’t happen. It’s easy to overlook the good. On Saturday, the offensive line had exactly the type of day I wanted to see, given that this is an experienced and deep unit. Let’s not forget that every starter from last year is returning. I seem to remember a few years ago when that happened that BSU rattled off 12 straight wins. I’m not saying, I’m just saying. Jacob Richard, Jalen Schlacter, Jeremiah Harvey, Steve Bell, and Drake Miller may very well hold the difference between celebrating the holidays at home or coming back to work in middle January with a nice tan.
  • Defensive Line: What was a concern before the game has quickly become a significantly less worrisome thing though still an area to watch. New to BSU transfer Josh Posley looked explosive and dangerous as an end rusher and showed signs of a Brandon Crawford type of ability with three sacks against a very good offensive line. That’s going to make life easier for the rest of the defensive front, as Michael Ayers, Osa Igbinosun, Darnell Smith, and Anthony Winbush along with others attempt to replace the likes of Bruce Heggie, Blake Dueitt, and Nick Miles. The line had issues for sure, as did the whole defense, but I think it’s safe to say this unit is more advanced than many thought it would be and Posley’s performance and ability to disrupt the backfield of an opposing team might mask some of the other problems.
  • Linebackers/Secondary: I lump these two together simply because they are both suffering from injuries that make evaluating their performance difficult if not completely impossible. The secondary was missing two of their top three safeties in Dae’Shaun Hurley and Dedrick Cromartie and the linebackers were down Damon Singleton and Aaron Taylor. These two units didn’t look especially strong Saturday, and that does raise some legitimate concerns about depth and inexperience. The corners weren’t shutdown in any sense of the word, but I have a feeling that may be because of the immense amount of talent and depth at the receiver position on the offensive side of the ball. The missed tackles and poor form I’ll chalk up to the limited contact of spring ball and not a greater problem but time will tell.
  • Coaching: There were significant worries about coaching related things like playcalling, aggression, and such that were clearly a bleed over from last season. The Spring Game is a controlled environment and a limited sample size, but the offense I saw on Saturday and the playcalling was night and day from last fall. Whether that’s a result of having a clear-cut starter and knowing exactly how to prepare and gameplan for his skills and abilities, or just a comfort in the position from Joey Lynch, it was a 180-degree difference from 2014. I’d say that’s a great thing given the lack of sure results from the defensive unit. If the offensive gameplan isn’t higher octane than we saw in 2014 it is going to be a very long season. Saturday, the Ball State offense was fun to watch, hard to stop, and running all cylinders.
  • Depth: The receiver position group speaks to the overall feel of this program finally having the depth to overcome fluke injuries or fatigue issues. It’s a given at larger programs but harder to find in MAC-level schools, but the Cards’ possession of such a trait is a remarkable thing and a direct result of the Lembo regime and his redshirting philosophy. I’d say now is when consistent results are possible and the “Win for a year/drop off for a couple” way of doing things in the MAC may be in our rear view mirror. It is possible if not likely that you are looking at the beginning of a stretch of high performance. I hope you’re ready.

As we talked about in our Pregame Show on Periscope, one of the things I had almost written off as a certainty for the 2015 season was a throwback to a more traditional MAC approach. In other words, I was under the assumption that most of our conference games were going to be a “Whomever has the ball last is going to win a 50-45 affair”. I’m less in that camp now than I was then given the strides of the defensive front, but at the same point, as the offense goes this year so will go the season. A pedestrian simplified offensive attack that isn’t significantly more productive and more aggressive than last season and it could be a stretch to get to five wins. If the offense can hit its stride early and maintain, along with a 2008-esque “bend but don’t break and step up in big moments” approach from the defense then a post season opportunity is definitely within reach. That statement alone and my ability to make it says a ton about the overall performance from the spring game.

There’s still a ton of coverage from the Spring Game upcoming from the Pylon over the next several days. We’ll have more today on observations from Saturday, several behind the scenes video packages about some cool goings on at Scheumann Stadium, an awesome new premium seating opportunity, and even some aerial drone footage from The Scheu and some other campus landmarks. Stay tuned and Go Cards!

How to Connect with the Pylon for Your Ball State Spring Game Needs

OTP Logo 200In case you were unaware, this Saturday is the Ball State University 2015 Spring Game for the fighting football Cardinals. That’s a decidedly good thing, given that we’ve lived a virtual football-free existence since the Super Bowl and a Cardinal-free existence since before that. That is too much time between touchdowns, big tackles, and Pete Lembo platitudes that could range anywhere from ancient Greek philosophy, to Churchill, to some classic rock line. The weather looks stellar (mid-70s and sunny) and there’s a bevy of things to check out at The Scheu.

But let’s say you can’t make it up to Muncie for some reason. Maybe you have family in town (there are 51 other weekends they could have come). Maybe you’re painting the living room a beautiful cerulean blue (nice choice!). Perhaps you are running some form of mini-marathon (no thank you). The point is sometimes life gets in the way of our absorption of Ball State football. However, should you find yourself in the weeds this weekend but still needing some access or some info about the goings on in Funcie, then brothers and sisters of Cardinal Nation, you have found yourself a home. Jason and myself will be making the trip to Muncie so you don’t have to, and it wouldn’t be an OTP roadshow without some slick things to keep you informed. Drone footage? Live video? Behind the scenes tomfoolery? Yes, yes, and yes.

Here’s just a few of the ways you can connect with us this weekend and beyond:

Periscope OTP

Periscope: The newest addition to the OTP social media arsenal, Periscope is your live video app where Jason and I will be broadcasting random things on our Spring Game journey. Live podcast on the way to Muncie? Likely. Thoughts on Spring Game goings on? Very likely. Footage from the field? Also likely. And the best thing is the ability for viewers to interact with us as we broadcast. Have a question? Share it in the app. Love Jason’s beard? Share it in the app. The virtual world is your virtual oyster. Download the app to your smartphone or tablet and then find us at “OverThePylon”.

Snapchat OTP logo

Snapchat: Everyone (or just about everyone) knows Snapchat and its benefits. Photos and videos are quick hit pieces that don’t last forever. Instead of sending inappropriate selfies (follow J’s personal account for that) we’ll be putting up stories of people we come across on Spring Game Saturday, short messages from people we think you’d like to hear from, and other fun goodies that will make your Spring Game experience that much better. Follow along, enjoy the ride, and don’t screencap. Poor etiquette, bro. Username to find is “OverThePylon”.

The Twitter Machines: If you’re not a member of the OTP Twitter army you are definitely missing out. You can follow along with all things Cardinal related and some things that aren’t, all while interacting with your fearless OTP editorial staff. Toss a follow to @OverThePylon.

Instagram: More of a photo person than a live video awesomeness person? Then you should be following the Pylon on Insta. Admittedly our Insta game has been lacking to this point, but it’s time to get in on the ground floor for the rebirth. Toss a follow to OverThePylon.

Facebook: I remember back when Facebook was only for college people or alums and you could Poke people in peace without having to worry about someone’s Farmville crops or Candy Crush levels. Those were the good old days and we didn’t even know it. So to clean up your Facebook existence from all the insignificant garbage, connect with the Pylon and consider it a good day.

YouTube: The home of stellar OTP videos from last spring game and the home of videos in the coming days of our Spring Game experience with a more professional polish and shine than the Snapchats or the Periscope. But still well worth your time and attention. You can check that out here.

Most of you are already following on some but not all, and a couple of the things above like Periscope and Snapchat are new things for the Pylon to try out in this kind of setting. It’s going to be a hoot and a half for the Spring Game so join us whether you’re there or not. We’ll make it well worth your while.

It’s Pete Lembo’s Birthday. Break Out the Celebratin’ Shoes

birthday-cakeThey say the older you get the less fun your birthdays become until that magical age where you can give zero f**ks and just drive on the sidewalk on the way to your senior discount at Marsh. Coach Pete Lembo isn’t in that stratosphere yet as today is only his 45th birthday. But it is his birthday all the same even if instead of Jagerbombs or Scotty’s pitchers it’s prepping for the Spring Game and recruiting, though the Cards are off today in terms of formal practice.

So who knows what fun and festivities are rocking and rolling at the Lembo household. Knowing CPL, he probably considered today worthy of some rest and relaxation. In Lembo-speak that means he slept in until 6:15am, only worked out for two hours, read just two books before lunch, limited his recruit notes to under 200, and then had a healthy lunch full of green leafy vegetables and lean protein. Yes, CPL takes it easy on the day of his birth. There’s also always the possibility of ice cream cake. Mmmmm, ice cream cake.

Ball State Students Get to Be a B Next Fall

Not that kind of Bea

Not that kind of Bea

Let it not be said that Ball State administrators and campus leadership aren’t trying whatever they can to increase student buy-in and support for athletics events. Proposed by SGA, starting in the fall, students can head on down to the field after the first home football game, hop on the field, and make a “B” of people. A “B” that will be professionally photographed and suitable for framing for all your students-as-letters needs as a Cardinal or Cardinal supporter.

Some will cynically say this is stupid, but even though I am a cynic of the highest order, that’s not the camp I’m in. I’ve worked at several campuses that have done something similar, and even if the students involved in it don’t love it (though they usually do), it’s still a great photo-op that makes the rounds through social media and something I’ve only seen pulled off well at bigger schools (the University of Maryland in my experience, though theirs was an “M” and then a “B1G” but that’s another story all together).

Here’s a similar kind of thing at another place close to my heart, University of Kentucky’s K Week….

KWeek

I’m all for anything that can give athletics more eyeballs and hopefully more support. Logistically, a B seems much harder to pull off, too, so let’s put those protractors and slide rules to good use, boys and girls.

The Big Blue Mist Heading for Indianapolis

Kentucky Fans

I come with a warning to Indianapolis residents. Let it not be said that your friends at The Pylon aren’t watching out for you. If you are sticking around Indianapolis for the Final Four this weekend, a storm warning has been issued for the greater Indy metro area, a storm known as the Big Blue Mist and it’s coming straight at you. I warn you not as a casual observer or as a protector of Hoosier State citizens. I warn you as a member of said Big Blue Nation. In the words of Bray Wyatt, “Indianapolis… we’re here.”

So what can you do? In the words of Randy Johnson, “Suck on it and like it.” seems appropriate. In seriousness, though, if it were me, and I were an Indianapolis area resident, I’d do the following:

  • I would take every expendable dollar I had in my budget and lay it all on Kentucky for the next two games with our friends at William Hill sports betting. Your city is overcome with UK fans and your wallet will be overcome with dead presidents. Sounds like a fair trade to me.
  • List any extra bedroom in my house on some house sharing website. I’m not kidding when I say hotels in Indy booked out last summer when Andrew and Aaron Harrison announced they were returning to Lexington. Closest hotel I could find in the fall was in Columbus. Not Ohio, but still. Easy way to make a quick buck or two and meet some great people in the process.
  • Become a Kentucky fan. No, really. It’s an enjoyable experience especially over the last few years. I know, I know, you may be an IU fan or a Purdue fan or even a Ball State fan. But there’s still room in the Big Blue canoe for a few more educated souls like you. You already read this blog so you’re clearly smarter than most.

Every college sports fanbase will tell you their fans are the most passionate, the most rabid, the most caring. Tree poisoning, mascot stealing, message board baiting pales in comparison to what UK fans do. They commandeer your city. They take over your hotels. Your bars and restaurants? Avoid them at all costs. It is a madhouse where the insane run the asylum and much like a summer church revival, once the event is over, they’re gone. Up and vanished like a fart in the breeze. But for Friday through late Monday night (if things go according to plan), Indianapolis is ground zero for the Wildcat Revival and it’s going to be a hell of a ride.

Ball State Sports? There’s an App for That

Winkelvoss Twins

The Winkelvoss Twins may have thought up Facebook, but the BSU Athletics app is all Cardinal ingenuity

It’s obvious by you visiting this site that you have a love for Ball State athletics. What’s not clear is whether or not you have a tablet. If you do, then the BSU Athletics app is a must download sort of thing for you, especially since this week saw Ball State football added to the app.

What you’ll get from this product of BSU’s journalism program is an app that truly takes you behind the scenes of BSU athletics. Immerse yourself in gameday action, read recaps, bios, rosters, and all sorts of other cool stuff to make you the most educated and rabid Cardinals fan you can be. I mean, you’re already here at the Pylon which sets you apart from 99% of the “normal fans”.

Have an iOS device like an iPad? That means you’ll want to click here to install the app.

If you have an Android then you’ll want to click here. You’ll also want to sooner rather than later go to an Apple Store and buy an iPad and then hit the link above, but that can wait for now.

Football joins men’s basketball, men’s and women’s volleyball, baseball, gymnastics, softball and soccer as teams digitally represented with the goal of all Cardinal sports teams making their app debut eventually. Oh, and don’t go swiping right on Joey Lynch’s photo. That’s another app entirely.

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