Scratch a coaching vacancy off the list for BSU. As we reported over the weekend, and BSU has now confirmed, former offensive line coach John Strollo is coming back to Muncie to coach the offensive line. Again. Strollo left BSU to coach the tight ends at Penn State under new head coach Bill O’Brien in 2012 and brings back his impressive pedigree of landing players in the NFL. Per BSU’s release…
John Strollo, who spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons as an assistant coach at Penn State after coaching the offensive line for Ball State in 2011, has been named the Cardinals’ offensive line coach, according to fourth-year head coach Pete Lembo.
“John is an outstanding person and a tremendous offensive line coach,” Lembo says. “We are very fortunate to have him back. John has been and will continue to be a wonderful representative of our football program and this university. A significant part of our offense, both philosophically and technically, has been painted by John’s brush since 2008. I could not be happier for our players and staff that this has come to fruition.”
In the 2011 season, Strollo tutored an offensive line at Ball State that allowed only 11 sacks and tied for 12th in the nation for fewest sacks allowed. His offensive line unit protected quarterback Keith Wenning, who threw for 2,786 yards – the third most in a single season in Ball State history – and set the single-season record with 287 completions. Strollo’s offensive line was also instrumental in blocking for then true freshman running back Jahwan Edwards’ 786 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
Strollo, who coached the tight ends at Penn State, was instrumental in the development of a tight ends unit that led the nation with 83 receptions in 2012. In 2013, he coached Adam Breneman to True Freshman All-America Second Team honors by 247Sports after a season with 15 catches for 186 yards and three touchdowns. He helped the Nittany Lions lead the Big Ten in total offense (437.0 ypg) and rank second in scoring (32.6 ppg) in conference games in 2012. Strollo tutored Kyle Carter, who was a consensus first-team Freshman All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten honoree, while true freshman Jesse James was an honorable-mention Freshman All-American and tied the school season record for a tight end with five touchdown receptions.
Strollo coached the offensive line under Lembo at Ball State in 2011 and at Elon in 2009 and 2010 after coaching the tight ends for the Phoenix in 2008. The 2014 season will be the 34th year for Strollo as a football coach in a career that started at Middletown South (N.J.) High School from 1977-79. Strollo served as an assistant coach at various institutions, including the offensive coordinator position at Cornell and Northeastern.
Strollo coached Duke tight end Ben Patrick, Cornell offensive lineman Kevin Boothe and Lafayette offensive lineman Jim Goff, all of whom played in the National Football League.
A 1976 graduate of Boston College with a master’s degree from Springfield in 1986, Strollo is married to the former Janet Kowalski and the couple has two daughters – Katie and Emily – both graduates of Syracuse.
So with that hire (if I’m following correctly) the offensive side of the ball has a complete coaching staff. The defense? Well, that’s another story all together. BSU is now missing a defensive line coach and a defensive coordinator, and there are rumblings from those much more connected to BSU recruiting than I am that those two vacancies are beginning to affect recruiting. One recruit decided not to visit BSU because of the unknown position coach he would be playing for and anyone who thinks these vacancies didn’t play a role in DT Ikeem Allen flipping to Toledo is ignoring the obvious. The sooner those positions get filled, the better.
There was talk of current pass defense coordinator/DBs coach Shannon Morrison moving up to the DC position, but I have to believe with this length of time, that won’t be the case. It took all of about 48 hours for Joey Lynch to be named offensive coordinator when Rich Skrosky left for Elon, and 24 of those hours was an embargo on the information to give Skrosky the headlines he deserved. Though I would have liked BSU to go internal if it made sense for continuity’s sake and the attractiveness of upward mobility on the staff, at this point, they almost have to go external. An internal hire raises more unsightly questions like “Why did this take so long if this was what you were wanting?” or “Who turned us down that this was the fail-safe for?”.
Regardless of the defense, let’s take a minute and be glad that we have an offensive line coach who knows the system, has had success within it, and knows how to succeed at BSU. With the inexperience at QB next season for BSU, the offensive line may very well be the difference between a winning season and… well, not.