I’ve always prided myself since starting this site that I would convey to my readership exactly how comfortable I was with the information I was presenting. It became a big sticking point when we broke Pete Lembo getting hired and The Star Press basically said we were full of it, as did Tom Collins. I stood by the story and last I checked Pete was our coach as I write this. Same with Brady Hoke leaving. We were the first, but we didn’t rush our story overlooking facts in the hustle to be first. I’d rather be right than first, but sometimes you can be both.
I’ve also promised our readers on our ethics page that I would convey our comfort with stories we report. In an ideal world, we would get tipped on something, confirm it with the folks at BSU, and then we’d run with it. That didn’t happen with Hoke, it didn’t happen with Lembo. That’s not to say that this particular story is 100% accurate but as I told a network sports editor of an Indianapolis television station when we were the first to crack the Lembo story, I feel comfortable with it. So hence, we’re running it. The facts of the story are unconfirmed from BSU administration sources, but I have received the same information from multiple unrelated sources close enough to the football program to have insight into the inner workings.
Your basic takeaways that you need to be aware of…
- BSU football staff is strongly angling for an invitation to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho on December 21. With its early date it allows for the current staff to still coach this team should a transition be pending.
- To that end, it is an overwhelming feeling from those closest to the program that Coach Lembo and staff will be departing Muncie at the conclusion of this season. Many of the folks with close ties to the program believe the program of choice at this moment to be Connecticut.
- That may seem surprising, but I have also received multiple reports that a contract extension was offered to Pete Lembo and that extension was politely declined. Lembo is under contract until the conclusion of the 2014 season at BSU. His buyout for remaining years would be approximately $350,000 per season, and $350k is chump change to buy out for a relatively large athletic department. So whether it is Connecticut or the myriad other programs that may come vacant and offer, if I was on PTI and participated in Oddsmakers, the percentage I would put on Pete Lembo being at the helm of BSU when the season opens in 2014 would be around 5%.
A wise old man once told me that there’s a big difference between what you think and what you know. So I don’t know I know what’s happening as that would entail Pete Lembo giving me a shout, which he hasn’t done.
BSU athletics department staff were asked for comment and as of publicaton could not be reached. ***UPDATE (11:15am)***: Assistant Athletic Director Joe Hernandez has this comment on this report: “We are not going to comment on the personnel status of any coaches until we have something to report” and “Bowl conversations are continuing and ongoing and we will all find out soon enough what bowl game the Cardinals will be competing in this year.”
However, given who I’m talking to, the number of folks I’m talking to, and the consistencies between all of them, I think I know what’s happening. So I’ll be operating under that principle from here on out with the standard disclaimer that I could be wrong. It’s been known to happen before (though rarely on this site) and the bowl situation is a consistently fluid circumstance.
First of all, if the above is true (which I think it is) I am not shocked that Coach Lembo is leaving. If he does leave for Connecticut that would surprise me considerably, given that contacts I have in several athletic departments significantly bigger than UConn across the country tell me CPL is on their shortlist should their coach leave. Those openings are contingent on the likes of USC, Texas, Florida, and other potential unknown openings coming vacant and dominoes that fall respectively. I appreciate the “Strike When the Iron is Hot” philosophy as it has benefited me greatly in my career, but BSU to UConn isn’t the step up that Pete Lembo deserves.
Second, and perhaps most important, if this is what transpires, I’m shocked that the athletic administration would allow this. I appreciate the chance to win the first bowl game in program history, but Boise, Idaho is not going to draw a ton of fans. In fact, even some well-connected folks I’ve spoken to have indicated that it’s simply cost prohibitive to get there. I would imagine the same applies for families and friends of the current roster. If, and it’s a big if, the administration has put the desires of the current coaching staff over the fans and families that’s disappointing. This also says nothing about the financial responsibilities of Boise, which have notoriously made it one of the least attractive and most costly bowl destinations. The devil’s advocate would say perhaps a team vote took place to determine where BSU shook out on this issue, and I can tell you with certainty that didn’t happen.
Third, and it’s a big third, is that the above two points are not lost on the team. The feeling on the team, at least from the folks I’ve talked to, is that Coach Lembo is gone at the end of this season. What concerns me is that we saw in 2008 what happened when a team caught wind of a coach on the way out. That team didn’t finish strong. Perhaps the push for Boise is a desire to not have the same thing happen this year that happened in the MAC Championship or the GMAC Bowl of that year. Until I get a sense of otherwise, I’ll assume that the folks in control have the best interest of the team at heart. I’m also not stupid or completely obtuse of reality. This staff with the exception of the holdovers like Daryl Dixon and Joey Lynch from the previous staff is sort of a package deal, I would assume. So if they accepted say, the Little Ceasar’s Pizza Bowl (which I’ve been told the team would prefer despite it’s day after Christmas kickoff) it may just be Dixon and Lynch still in the building, and it could be less than that.
So we have a ton of stuff to mull over. A few days ago Uncle Alan told you to potentially ask off work and/or plan travel around the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl in Detroit. You can 86 that advice. At this point, it’s looking like Boise, unless Bill Scholl and the powers that be decide to roll the dice and see what happens. Even if that happens, if you were planning to get that “All Hail Pete Lembo” tattoo across your abdomen Tupac-style, I’d put a hold on that also. At least until this current version of the coaching carousel pans out.
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