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MAC New Media Preseason Poll

MACI remember a time when the MAC New Media group was a small collection of blogs that all varied in degrees of frequency, professionalism, fan-voice, and ad bait. That was back in ’08 when we hung our shingle in the blogosphere, and the group of sites that covers the Mid American Conference has evolved, advanced, and evolved some more. Though some blogs have gone dark, others have sprung up, and Hustle Belt has been pushed to the forefront by the SBNation Death Star, the passion of the group hasn’t waned.

Tomorrow is MAC Media Day in Detroit. You’ll get to see what mainstream media thinks about the coming season of MAC football. But who better to get your information from than the group of people who follow these teams and this conference day in and day out. The great things about getting news and other goings on from blogs is that you’re hearing from someone who doesn’t have a myopic view of just one team, which also happens to be couched in between the local high school goings on, national sports stories, and all the other things that a mainstream journalist has to scramble for. So, the new media of the MAC thought it best to give you what you need, an unvarnished opinion about how the conference is going to shake out in the fall.

Our voters?

For the East…

  1. BG (6) 52 points
  2. Akron (1) 41 points
  3. Buffalo (1) 39 points
  4. Ohio 38 points
  5. Kent State 23 points
  6. Miami 19 points
  7. UMass 10 points

For the West…

  1. NIU (4) 42 points
  2. Toledo (2) 41 points
  3. Ball State (2) 33 points
  4. CMU 25 points
  5. WMU 15 points
  6. EMU 13 points

The group collective picked NIU as the MAC Championship winner, with Terry Bowden claiming Coach of the Year honors and BG QB Matt Johnson taking home Player of the Year.

My reply all response to the above when it hit my email for the group was “You are all high.” and I stand by that. My other thoughts outside of the aforementioned assumption that people are either inebriated, ignorant, or blissfully unaware (or a combination of all of the above):

  • It’s so good to see people expect to see a drop off after good QBs graduate, hence BSU landing in third in the West, 6th overall. What’s that? NIU is still ranked #1 in the west despite losing their All-Galaxy QB Jordan Lynch? Well that doesn’t seem very consistent, now does it?
  • Apparently the slurping of BG can now begin in earnest. Thank God! (That’s sarcasm)
  • This the last year for UMass in the MAC, so next year’s new media poll will have to pick a “zOMG WORST TEAM EVUR!!!!111″ to champion. I nominate Buffalo. Or Western Michigan.
  • My ballot was:
    • East: BG, Akron, Ohio, Kent State, Buffalo, Miami, UMass
    • West: BSU, Toledo, NIU, CMU, EMU, WMU
    • My MAC Champion was BSU, Coach of the Year was Pete Lembo, and Player of the Year was Jahwan Edwards

That screams “homer pick” and in theory you could be right given how mine shook out, but you would be wrong in practice, as I also shared my working theory for why I picked the way I picked. I’m of the belief that BSU behind the running prowess of Quake wins the West. That explains why they are tops in that division and why he would be my Player of the Year. I had BG as E1 because of Johnson, and had the Cardinals tossing their second thumping in a month on the Falcons in Detroit. Why Lembo you ask? Because apparently the people “in the know” think BSU is going to have a God awful season with a drop off like no other MAC team. I’d say if CPL can win the conference with those expectations, then he’s a shoe-in for Coach of the Year. The rest of my picks were a mixture of educated guesses and unadulterated hatred. Massholes and boat oars sunk to the bottom of both my divisions and the rest were just a toss-up.

So there you go, boys and girls. If I could walk these down from Mt. Cardinal on two stone tablets, I would, and frankly, given the heat and humidity I wouldn’t mind wearing a flowing robe. And nothing else. HEY O! But yeah, MAC media day is tomorrow, so get yourself ready for some more fun from your friends here at OTP.

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Ball State Softball Has a New Assistant Coach

One of these people is BSU's new assistant softball coach. I'm hoping it's the guy on the right.

One of these people is BSU’s new assistant softball coach. I’m hoping it’s the guy on the right.

One thing you’ll notice (if you haven’t already) is that OTP is doing it’s darndest to make sure that all of the BSU athletic endeavors receive adequate coverage around these parts. Football will probably always be “our thing”, or at least until we change the name of the site, but that’s no reason not to keep you up on ALL of the goings on in the Cardinalsphere. It’s the least we could do.

Today’s BIG NEWS is that Ball State softball has hired a new assistant coach, one Alex Gray to come do his thing in Muncie from the metropolis of Storrs, CT and UConn. The BSU release…

Alex Gray, an assistant softball coach at Connecticut for the past two seasons, has been named an assistant coach for the Ball State softball program according to head coach Tyra Perry.

Gray served as the hitting coach at UConn, while also working with the infielders and outfielders under head coach Karen Mullens. He helped a pair of Huskies earn All-Big East Second Team accolades in 2013, while the team combined to post 40 home runs which stands as the second-best single-season total in program history.

“Alex is a great hire for us,” Perry said. “He is very well-rounded in that he has a baseball background, spent several years as a high school softball coach and has experience at the collegiate softball level. His passion for the game will bring great energy to the program.”

Prior to joining the staff at Connecticut, Gray spent three seasons (2009-11) as the head softball coach at Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Ga. He led the Vikettes to a 67-34 record and was named the 2010 and 2011 Region 1-AAAAA Coach of the Year. His team’s won regional titles in 2010 and 2011, with the 2010 squad posting a 24-8 overall record, advancing to the round of eight in the state tournament and finishing the year ranked eighth in the state. Gray was also named the head coach for the South All-Star Team in the 2012 Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Softball Showcase.

“I am honored to be joining the Ball State Softball program,” Gray said. “I would like to thank head coach Tyra Perry and director of intercollegiate athletics Bill Scholl for the opportunity to be a part of the Ball State family and the supporting community of Muncie. I am ready to contribute towards the program’s success and Coach Perry’s vision for Ball State Softball.”

Gray served as the head softball coach at Richmond Hill High School in Richmond Hill, Ga in 2009, leading the Lady Wildcats to a 15-13 record and a berth in the state playoffs. He was the school’s head junior varsity softball coach during the 2007-08 season. Gray also served two seasons as the head golf coach and one year as the head junior varsity girl’s basketball coach at Richmond Hill.

In 2006, Gray was the community head coach of the freshman team, and the community assistant coach of both the varsity and junior varsity softball teams at Lowndes High School. He was the director of athletics at Bible Baptist School in Savannah, Ga. for the 2004-05 school year, as well as the head coach of the varsity boy’s basketball and baseball teams. Gray began his coaching career as an assistant coach for the Valdosta State University softball team in 2002, helping guide the program to a Gulf South Conference championship.

Gray was a four-year letterwinner in baseball, playing two seasons at both Young Harris College (1998-99) and Valdosta State University (2000-01). He was first-team all-conference selection at YHC in 1999, while earning the Baseball Spirit Award at VSU in 2001. Gray was a .342 (122-for-356) career hitter in his two seasons at Valdosta State, racking up 20 doubles, 12 home runs, 64 runs scored and 77 RBI for the Blazers.

Gray earned his associate degree in recreation from Young Harris in 1999 and his bachelor in speech communications from Valdosta State in 2002.

Admittedly, I am in no way a softball expert, but pulling an assistant coach from a school like UConn is a big deal in my book. I also am in no way a racy novel expert, but from heretofore, I shall refer to Coach Gray as “50 Shades” or “Coach 50 Shades”. Perhaps even “Coach 50″ if I’m in a rush. I encourage you to do the same.

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.

 

 

OTPcast 6.4

OTP Cast Logo200We’re so fancy
You already know
Talkin’ up BSU
From L.A. to Tokyo
We’re so fancy
Can’t you taste this show?
Remember this site, ’bout to blow

Time for your needed dose of awesome from your OTP staff. Jason and Alan break down some new Cardinal additions and departures, as well as some new construction for football related things and a $13.5 million investment fraud the U was a part of. There’s also new 4-year scholarships and it’s still illegal to sports gamble outside of Nevada. Finally, the guys get you ready for July 4th by seeing what Jason (and you playing at home) know about our country’s Independence Day!

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

[VIDEO] Your Cardinals Get the First Look at the New Locker Room

In case you unaware, Ball State football has a new locker room. And it’s nice. The players got their first look at it today and there were ribbons to cut, plugs to geek over, and a Cardinal in the carpet to be in awe of. Take it away, boys…

Some thoughts on the above…

  • How good of a spokesman is Scott Secor? Top notch in my book.
  • Quake Edwards looks like a grown ass man. Like someone poised to just run roughshod over the MAC.
  • The locker room itself is stellar. I’ve not been in a ton of locker rooms but this one is head and shoulders over the ones I have been. Kudos to everyone who made this possible, especially those who gave considerably more than I did.
  • Chargers in the lockers?! That’s incredible and something I wouldn’t have thought of. This whole thing from the lockers to the alley, to the plugs, to the Cardinal in the carpet just screams “first class” and it has been a while since BSU football could say that. Well done.
  • Joel Godett is just fun to watch. Genuine love of the guys and the goings on, even if he is  filthy Syracuse alum.

Tip of the cap to the BSU Sports mothership for putting that together.

OTPcast 6.3

OTP Cast Logo200Said all I want from you
Is to see you Saturday
And every Saturday
Maybe you’ll let me borrow, your heart
And is it too much to ask for some Tuesdays?
And while we’re at it throw in Wednesdays too

I know conferences make promises all the time
Then they turn right around and break them
When someone realigns your teams all around and you’re reeling
But you could be the conference to heal it over time
And I won’t stop until you believe it
‘Cause MAC football you’re worth it

The OTPcast doesn’t take a summer break, but does in fact make yours exponentially better. Cutting grass? OTPcast! Swimming in the lake? OTPcast! Grilling out on the back deck? OTPcast! It’s the podcast of your summer dreams, baby. Jason and Alan are back to catch you up on all things Ball State related. Like the summer coaches caravan. Or what the staff has planned for the summer. They talk about Nick Saban’s raise, a new Ball State president, and Jason is no fan of wrestling but does love the Undertaker’s dong. He also catches you up on all things technology related in Jason’s Tech Corner from WWDC. It’s all that and more in this week’s OTPcast!

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

Athlon Would Like You to Welcome Your BSU Falcons

It was supposed to be a restful and relaxing Sunday evening at OTP Manor. I had a frosty beverage or three ready to rock for what I consider must watch television on the level of the first night of The Bachelor: the Miss USA pageant. No other television program outside of the premier of The Bachelor has so much of the human condition on display in one block of time. Success, failure, beauty, intelligence or lack thereof. It’s simply magical.

That spectrum of human emotion and fascination got put on hold though last night when friend of the Pylon and former fellow Maryland resident BallUHouston sent this along on Twitter:

Ball State Falcons

Yes, that says Ball State. Yes, that says Falcons. DOES NOT COMPUTE. Either Jo Ann Gora changed the mascot before she left or Athlon had made an egregious error in the publication of its fall preview piece for college football. Far be it for me to criticize someone for spelling or grammar mistakes, as Lord knows the history of this site will show that even the most mediocre of writers (read: me) will make a massive ass ton of them each day. But to my credit, I’ve never switched up the mascot of a team I covered quite so incorrectly.

Twitter exploded because of this, and great fun was had by all, most notably Athlon. To their credit, their college football editor Steven Lassan responded almost immediately apologizing for the error and saying he would pass it up to the right folks. The general Athlon Sports account responded as well and apologetically reminded us they do love Pete Lembo after I suggested he take them off the Lembo family Christmas Card list. Perhaps the greatest response of the night though goes to the Air Force Academy.

After friend of the Pylon Kodie Egenolf said he was a BSU Cardinal and also an Air Force Falcon and preferred Falcons to Cardinals, the Air Force Academy’s official athletics Twitter responded with this jewel:

AFA Ball State

Well played, Air Force Academy. Well played, indeed. In the end, Athlon apologized, I had a good laugh or three, BSU was a buzz on Twitter for a bit and Miss Nevada won Miss USA. All in all, a pretty eventful little Sunday. Go Falcons!

Baseball Has Three Drafted

BSULogoThe big news of the last couple days was the times and television for the football Cardinals for the fall. That was until the Cardinals had three players selected in this week’s MLB draft. T.J. Weir, Sean Godfrey and Nestor Bautista all heard their names called Saturday in the 17th, 22nd, and 32nd rounds respectively. Weir was selected by the San Diego Padres, Godrey by the Atlanta Braves, and Bautista by the Florida Marlins. With their drafting, BSU has now landed 55 players in the MLB draft. Per BSU’s release notes…

A senior pitcher, infielder and designated hitter, Weir ranks ninth in the nation with 117 strikeouts and 15th nationally with 16 games started on the mound. He finished second in the Mid-American Conference in strikeouts and tied for third in pitching victories (8), while ranking tied for third in games started and fourth with 99.2 innings pitched. Weir struck out a career-high 14 batters versus Western Michigan April 19, which was the highest single-game total by a MAC pitcher this season. He struck out at least eight batters in seven outings this year plus hit three home runs, with five doubles, two triples and 17 RBI in his 109 at-bats. Weir completed the season with an 8-2 pitching record and a 3.61 earned-run average.

Godfrey, who was named to the Louisville Slugger Collegiate Baseball All-America Third Team, was named the 2014 MAC Player of the Year. He batted .333 in 237 at-bats for the Cardinals in 2014 with nine home runs, 22 doubles and 57 runs-batted-in. Godfrey ranks nationally in doubles (9th), runs-batted-in (17th), total bases (30th with 128) and hits (45th with 79). Godfrey became the 15th player in Ball State history honored by an All-America team and the eighth to earn third-team honors.

Bautista was 3-1 in 18 appearances for the Cardinals in 2014 and tallied a 3.55 ERA. He pitched 25.1 innings, allowing 10 earned runs and striking out 25 batters. Opponents batted a mere .233 against Bautista, which was the best mark on the Ball State pitching staff.

“What a great day for Ball State baseball,” Cardinals’ head coach Rich Maloney said.  “It is exciting to see these players realize their dream of playing professional baseball.  To become a national program players getting to play at the next level is a prerequisite.  Each of these student-athletes earned their degrees, which makes me very proud.  They exemplified the true meaning of student-athlete.”

Congrats and Go Cards!

Mark Your Calendars, BSU has Fall Game Times

IBSULogo know it’s summer, you are focused solely on the temperature of the beer in your fridge and the water in your pool, but lend me your ears, BSU football fans. Game times and television information has been released for the fall. The Cardinal sports calendar may be without event until an August 16th soccer game against IUPUI but we now have something to obsess over. So fire up, boys and girls.

Per the BSU release…

Ball State, in conjunction with the Mid-American Conference and the ESPN Family of Networks, has announced game times for a portion of the 2014 football season.

The Cardinals will open the 2014 campaign Sat., Aug. 30, with a 2 p.m. home game vs. Colgate. Ball State will play at Iowa Sept. 6, at a time still to be announced, and then host Indiana State on Family Weekend Sat., Sept. 13, at 3 p.m. In addition, the Cardinals’ Homecoming Game vs. Western Michigan Sat., Oct. 11, will be played at 3 p.m. in Scheumann Stadium.

Ball State’s games vs. Colgate and Indiana State are slated to air on ESPN3, while other game times and television partners will be announced throughout the season approximately 12 days prior to each game.

At the Indiana State game, Ball State will honor the 1964 team and celebrate the squad’s 50-year anniversary. At the Homecoming Game vs. Western Michigan, the university will honor the 1989 team and celebrate its 25th anniversary of winning the MAC Championship and competing in the 1989 California Raisin Bowl.

Ball State’s game at Army Oct. 4 is slated for a noon start and will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.

As a part of the MAC’s midweek television package in November, the Cardinals will host Northern Illinois Wed., Nov. 5, at 8 p.m., and play at Massachusetts Wed., Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. Both of those games are expected to air on either ESPN2 or ESPNU.

Ball State finished the 2013 season with a 10-3 overall record and competed in the GoDaddy Bowl, under the direction of head coach Pete Lembo. It marked only the third 10-win campaign in school history and only the second time the Cardinals have ever played in bowl games in back-to-back seasons.

So mark your calendars, set your Tivo’s, get your excuses ready to call into work or church the next day and ready yourself for another falltastic BSU football season.

Cards Send Two More to the NFL

cleveland browns logoYou thought the only chance the Cardinals had to land a football alum on an NFL roster rested with Jonathan Newsome, Keith Wenning, or Willie Snead? Think again. Today BSU announced that Nathan Ollie and Zane Fakes are on their way to Cleveland with Snead with an invite to rookie minicamp set to take place this weekend.

From BSU…

Willie Snead, Zane Fakes and Nathan Ollie — all members of the 2013 Ball State football team — will get an National Football League opportunity with the Cleveland Browns.

Willie Snead, a junior wide receiver on the Ball State football team in 2013, has signed a free agent contract with the Browns, while Fakes and Ollie have each received invitations to attend mini-camp.

The Cleveland Browns signed 11 undrafted free agents, including four wide receivers, two offensive linemen, one running back, one fullback, one quarterback, one defensive back and one defensive lineman.

Snead finished the 2013 season with Ball State single-season records in receptions (106), receiving yards (1,516) and receiving touchdowns (15). His 1,516 receiving yards in the 2013 season ranked third in the nation. Snead completed his Ball State career ranked second in receiving yards (2,991), second in passes caught (223), second in touchdown catches (26) and first in 100-yard receiving games (13).

Snead, who is only one of two players in Ball State history to manage two 1,000-yard receiving seasons, helped the Cardinals to a 10-3 overall record in 2013 and an appearance in the GoDaddy Bowl. He helped Ball State to a 9-4 mark and a trip to the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg in 2012, and a bowl eligible season of 6-6 as a true freshman in 2011.

Snead, who declared for the National Football League after his junior season, was named to the 2013 All-Mid-American Conference First Team and was a semifinalist for the Fred Biletnikoff Award this past season.

Ollie, who was named Ball State’s 2013 John Magnabosco Award winner as the defensive most valuable player, managed 72 total tackles last fall. He also led the Cardinals with six quarterback hurries and 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.

Fakes, who was awarded the Paul Schudel Strength and Conditioning Award last season, was named to the All-MAC First Team as a tight end in 2013. He managed 41 receptions for 410 yards and two touchdowns. Fakes earned his bachelor’s degree from Ball State in May of 2013 and earned Capitol One Academic All-America honors this past fall, while pursuing his master’s degree.

In addition to these three heading to the Cleveland Browns, Ball State’s Jonathan Newsome was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts and Keith Wenning was chosen by the Baltimore Ravens.

As if I needed further reason to make Cleveland my secondary NFL team behind the Bears and Colts, this seems like as good a reason as any. Three BSUers with a chance to make the squad and Johnny Football? Sign me up. I suggest you do that same.

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