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EXCLUSIVE: The Eric Williams Side of the Eric Williams Story

EW won't have Buffalo to kick around anymore (James McCoy/Buffalo News)

It never fails that when I go on vacation, big news around BSU football breaks. My 2008 vacation was when Brady Hoke was discussing his options with SDSU, in front of his players and staff while still wearing cardinal and white. 2010’s trip started with texts about Stan Parrish being fired, and ended with us breaking the news about Pete Lembo being hired as the new head coach. I’m in the middle of the 2011 edition of my vacation, but we’re also in the middle of the biggest piece of news to come out of BSU in months, and that’s the departure of Eric Williams.

Williams was the Cards’ leading rusher in 2010, and for his career recorded 975 yards and 9 TDs on the ground, but also recorded an additional 1670 all-purpose yards and 4 more TDs, two each in receiving and returning. To call the loss of Williams a non-factor for 2011 would be incorrect, as most preseason publications like Phil Steele, Lindy’s, Athlon, etc. all pointed to Williams as one of the most notable returners in the MAC. That isn’t to say that there is not adequate talent to fill the shoes left by Williams’ departure, but to take the attitude of some fans we’ve seen where this is a non-story and not a significant loss is foolish.

In an OTP exclusive, we talked to Eric about his decision to leave BSU and where he goes from here.

OTP: Eric, can you walk us through your decision to leave the program?
EW: Coach Lembo and I come from different sides of the train tracks. He didn’t understand what players such as myself went through growing up or even had going on outside of football and going to school at the University. He uses sarcasm in every bit of every answer to any question or situation he is put in and does not really care about anybody else’s views eventually causing major confrontation. I dealt with this all spring leading to my final decision to leave and look for a more suiting environment to play football.

OTP: You talk about how Coach Lembo reacts to things. Can you give us an example?
EW: To me, when you talk to Coach Lembo from beginning to end it’s you need to see my point of view, I don’t need to see your point of view. Say if someone in my family was struggling back home, for example, a parent. His response would be “That’s not your responsibility, you should not take care of her or him, it’s not your job.” And all I would think was so I’m supposed to let my parents struggle because you don’t understand our situation? No, his morals and my morals are not matched up and he is just a coach that I see myself not being able to play for successfully.

OTP: How did Coach Lembo react to your decision to leave?
EW: I chose not to speak to Lembo about my decision. Most of my conversations with him got no where and I ended mad in the end. So I went to associate athletic director Patt Quinn and requested my immediate release. With Coach Lembo it was “You agree with me or you can find someone else to play for.”

OTP: Have you talked to Coach Lembo since the decision has been made?
EW: Coach Lembo called me only to tell me he granted my release and to ask if I needed help in finding somewhere. But I respectfully declined. I made sure the conversation was short and sweet.

OTP: Were your teammates and coaches encouraging you to stick around and not transfer?
EW: Yes, many players and coaches tried convincing me to stay. But they didn’t particularly understand what I was going through. They called me a traitor and disloyal but nobody put themselves in my shoes before judging me and thought this maybe the best decision for him. In the end this is better for me because I do not want to interfere with the new direction of the program nor disrespect a coach whom is doing his job.

OTP: And what direction would that be?
EW: I’m not sure where the program is headed. As far as strength, David Feely is doing a great job but Coach Lembo’s offensive scheme just did not jump out as exciting to me.

OTP: What’s next for EW?
EW: I have sought out several schools and I plan on attending HBCU Hampton University and advancing my football and schooling career there. I was able to talk to coaches finally after being released and I am comfortable with this decision as I was turning down BCS schools to come to Ball State.

OTP: Hampton is the new home of former Ball State offensive line coach and friend of OTP Jason Eck. Did Coach Eck being there help this decision?
EW: Yes, me and Coach Eck became really close the past two years and I trust him with my life. Him being at Hampton just made my transition that much easier.

OTP: What are your thoughts as to how you were utilized while you were a Cardinal?
EW: I was used great I feel in the coach Stan Parrish era. But when coach P left I feel a lot of our roles were diminished and I’ve never been a player limited to only a few roles. It was way out of my comfort zone and only caused me more pressure and confusion. Anyone who knows me can vouch that competition just brings out a better me and had in no shape and form anything to do with my decision in leaving.

OTP: Any regrets for your time in Muncie?
EW: I have no regrets coming to Ball State. My first impression when watching Nate Davis and my cousin MiQuale lewis run up and down opponents made me see that I wanted to be a player who kept this rising tradition going. My first 2 seasons will always be memorable. And I thank Eddie Faulkner and Stan Parrish for allowing me the opportunity to play. If I had to do it again I would sign with Ball State again.

OTP: Looking back on all of your time here, what are you most proud of?
EW: My proudest moment at Ball State was finishing my sophomore year and being eligible to compete another year and stay enrolled at Ball State also the birth of my son which inspired me to work harder.

So we sit with a not so positive picture being painted by Williams on his way out the door. In fairness, the contacts and sources I have within the program have had nothing but positive things to say about Coach Lembo since he was hired. Most fans that have interacted with him have had glowing reviews of their run ins. My own correspondence and conversations with Coach Lembo have been engaging and positive. So we sit with quite a great divide between what Williams is painting as he exits and my own personal experience. As someone who has dealt with a number of transitions of supervisors and University leadership in my own career, sometimes the “fit” of a program and a person within it under new leadership isn’t quite what it was before. There will no doubt be fans that will paint Williams as a trouble maker and an equal number that will paint Coach Lembo as a vindictive head coach who runs off players, and I would venture a guess that neither of those things are true. Sometimes the simplest answer is indeed the correct one, and in this one, it seems like two competitors just didn’t fit. Good luck to Eric as he transitions to Hampton and we’re only a couple months away from the Hoosiers. Go Cards!

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7 Responses

  1. Sounds like some sour grapes honestly. No need to bash a man on your way out. Eric has a lot to learn about being mature. He can be a good kid but some times he is more worried about himself than his team. He has good talent when he is actually holding on to the ball. I hope he does well and learns the aspect of being a team player. If he does this he could be great.

  2. It has been settled before. Eric was loved on every minute he was here with Parrish. He could not handle that he was treated as an equal with lembo. He is moving down because he probably thinks they will treat him as Parrish did, but he will find that the real world doesn’t all love him like Parrish did. I honesty have doubt that players begged him to stay, because I know many players despised or erics attitude towards his teammates

  3. Eric’s a kid that with his head on straight could be headed to the NFL through Ball State. That path will be unbelievably harder after a year of sitting out, then going on to Hampton. I wish him well, but unfortunately his attention will go down dramatically.

  4. @ Fan….Hampton is a FCS school, Eric’s eligible to play right away.

  5. I had the pleasure of coaching EDub back in Highschool, and he was and has always been a true team mate. What transpired with the new BSU staff is simply putting a round peg in a square hole, meaning the offensive direction wasn’t gonna be the best fit for EDub’s talents. You add that along with a perceived lack of understanding from the coaching staff, and a lack of understanding from the player, which brings about neither side meeting somewhere in the middle, you will have this type of feeling on both sides.

    EDub is a baller for sure, and is a great student, A’s and B’s in highschool and at BSU, so as long as he finishes the drill, the most important drill of getting his degree, and continues to push hard on the field, he will not only be playing on Sundays, as the NFL finds you anywhere now adays, he will be a college grad playing on Sundays..

    At the end of the day, thats all that really matters, was fun watching ya EDub at BSU, and do ya thang boi!!!!!

    Peez

  6. […] year by his cousin MiQuale Lewis. The boys at OTP landed an interview with Eric, you can read it here if you haven’t already. Needless to say, Coach Lembo isn’t going to be on Eric’s […]

  7. @former player
    So were you one of the player who despised him. Everyone who transpires athletes transferring for being quitters and thugs and selfish are indeed selfish yourselves. Move on with your lives the choice has been made wasting your time blogging wont change the fact the some players and some coaches just do not get along. In the same case we could say that your encounters playing for Stan Parrish werent as good as his because of his coaching style. he believed in putting the best on the field.

    He was giving chances and he made mistakes just like the other players but I bet he made up for them because he enjoyed the coaching styles of Stan Parrish.

    Good luck at Hampton EW3 BSU will miss you regardless on what former players and alumni say. Stay Humble. be strong work hard. God Bless

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