Dr. Gora, Mr. Scholl, members of the Cardinal Varsity Club, my fellow Cardinal nation members: As outlined by the BSU athletics constitution, it has been tasked to the head football coach that “he shall from time to time give to the fanbase information of the State of the BSU Union and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” This is that time. These are those recommendations.
When I arrived in Muncie, it was said that hope was dwindling if not outright lost. There was mass anarchy, bandwagon jumping, DOGS AND CATS LIVING TOGETHER. It was pandemonium. The 2011 prospectus I was given on my interview had 2009 and 2010 ripped out. It was curious, to say the least. But together, we have cleared away the rubble of crisis, brushed aside the aura of negativity and uncertainty, and after two consecutive bowl trips I can say with absolute certainty that the state of our union is strong. Strong like bull. Strong like Tom Davis’ takes in the Ft. Wayne News Sentinel.
It has been said that Ball State University and the Fighting Football Cardinals are not the premier players of pigskin in this Hoosier State. That, my feathered friends, is dead wrong. That famous life mantra asks “If not us, who? If not now, when?”. This isn’t a rhetorical bumper sticker question though in this case. It is, in fact, a statement of absolute resolve and football certainty. If not BSU, then who? No, really, who?
The Hoosiers? The same Indiana team that we have beaten three straight times? The same Indiana team who has to wonder if the fans in their stands on Saturday are simply lost on their way to Assembly Hall or a Bobby Knight book signing? The same Indiana team coached by a visor-ed example of “over your skis”. Kevin Wilson, who now goes by “Kevin R. Wilson” has racked up a 10-26 record in Bloomington. I can only assume the “R” stands for “Ridiculously overrated” or “Rasslin'” which he has to be a better coach at than this whole football thing.
Perhaps Purdue? I’m not an expert in the Big 10, but when your can’t avoid stepping on your own dick week after week, that seems to relegate you to the kiddie table of Hoosier college football. Perhaps Purdue is luring us all into a false sense of security so that after decades of futility they can take us all by surprise. In fairness, though, what they lack in football performance and success they certainly make up for in big drums. So there’s that.
The Fighting Irish? Perhaps if they were fighting their way out of a urine soaked paper sack, and even then I’d give even odds. When you can’t consistently beat Pittsburgh, your ability to inspire fear in the hearts of your in-state brethren wanes. Plus, the emotional damage caused by Alabama last year in the national championship game still has to sting. That’s what happens when you use your safeword and Nick Saban ignores it. Again. And again. And again. (Mine is raspberry jam, in case you were curious).
We may not have fancy things like indoor practice facilities. Or big drums. Or giant rocks in the corner of our stadium. Or enough urinals. But I’ll tell you what we don’t have: a dj in our stadium, either. And damn it, that’s good enough for me.
The naysayers will say 2014 will not be the year of the Cardinal. There are too many pieces to replace. Keith Wenning. Willie Snead. Zane Fakes. Jonathan Newsome. Joel Cox. Nathan Ollie. Jamill Smith. All great players. All Cardinals through and through. There are coaches lost like Jay Bateman, Chad Wilt, Rich Skrosky, and Nick Tabacca. But we are not content to rest on our laurels here. We are a program full of young and hungry players. Of coaches with new opportunities. Of Cardinals.
February 5th is right around the corner. National Signing Day. The time when high school seniors pledge their time and talents to the programs that are worthy of their skill. It is then that you will see a remarkable class of new Cardinals. Players and performers built for the long haul to extend a tradition not need to reboot one. From there it’s spring practice, the spring game, summer conditioning, and then fall camp. This long national nightmare of the football offseason is in its early stages, but there is hope. There is light. There is only 6 more months until you can watch me and the Cards run roughshod over the MAC like Chris Christie through a Blimpie’s sandwich platter.
That’s just the way we’re made. We may do different jobs and wear different uniforms, and hold different views than the person beside us. But as Cardinal fans, we all share the same proud title — we are Ball State Fans! It’s a phrase that doesn’t just describe our fandom or alma mater. It describes the way we’re made. It describes what we believe. It captures the enduring idea that this program only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future Cardinals, that our fandom is wrapped up in the fandom of others; and that almost into our second century as an institution, it remains the task of us all, as fans of this Ball State University, to be the authors of the next great chapter of our Cardinal story.
Thank you. God bless you, and God bless Ball State University.
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