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Ball State Football Announces Awards at Postseason Banquet

BSULogoWhen I was younger and actually played sports rather than blogging about them in an attempt to escape the soul crushing reality of working for a living, the postseason banquet was always one of the best things about the season. There were trophies, a good meal, the coaches did something other than scream their ass off about the mistakes you made, and really the toil and effort from the season seemed to be worth it regardless of the outcome of the season record. (That’s a good lesson for the Colts today too, and I hope Chuck Pagano has orange slices and ribbons for all his guys)

On Sunday, the Ball State football team officially put a wrap on their 2014 campaign with their own version of a fancy dinner at Ryan’s Steak House by hosting the annual Honors Banquet at the Horizon Convention Center in beautiful downtown Muncie. Aside from gathering this group of young men and Cardinals together for what is more likely than not the last time (which is a bit sad in and of itself) there was a plethora of hardware handed out as well:

  • John Magnabosco Award (Team MVP): Jahwan Edwards
  • John Hodge Award (Most Valuable Freshman): Corey Lacanaria & Dedrick Cromartie
  • Bill Reynolds Special Teams Award: Scott Secor
  • Gene Booker Academic Award: Taylor Hoke
  • Mark Hays Inspiration Award: Brian Jones
  • Paul Schudel Strength & Conditioning Award: Nick Miles
  • Bill Meitzler Scout Team Player of the Year: David Morrison & Joshua Posley
  • Dave McClain Leadership Award: Jacob Richard
  • Ray Louthen Award (Most Improved): Dylan Curry

I’d say there are approximately zero surprises in the above. Quake as the MVP, Secor as the Special Teams MVP, and Lacanaria and Cromartie as newcomers of the year were how I would have voted it as well. I can’t speak for the weightlifting and conditioning prowess of Nick Miles but I won’t question his award largely because he looks like he could deadlift a Smartcar and I’d like to see my kids grow up. The rest I’ll just take the staff’s word on.

There was also a new award given out, the 12th Man Award, presented to Ball State’s deputy AD Pat Quinn. Quinn’s career at BSU is long and distinguished, ranging from a remarkably successful tenure as the baseball coach and now a fruitful 20 years in compliance and administration. Quinn spoke to one of my grad school classes about athletic administration and he was informative and engaging along with incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about his field. When good professionals and better people get deserved recognition that’s a good thing. Congrats to Pat and all the award winners!

Ball State Cross Country Lands Three on Academic All-MAC

BSULogoLost in the shuffle of athletic directors, football transfers, and basketball come from behind wins was another feather in the cap of Cardinal athletics as cross country landed three student-athletes on the All-MAC Academic teams. For the second consecutive season, twin sisters Courtney Edon (New Palestine, Ind./New Palestine) and Caitlynn Edon (New Palestine, Ind./New Palestine) both earned the honor, while sophomore Ericka Rinehart (Angola, Ind./Angola) received the honor for the first time in her career. All three are nursing majors, all three have over a 3.7 GPA, all three are probably markedly smarter than I am as a former marketing guy with a GPA more than a few tenths of a point lower than that.

In all seriousness, though, it’s remarkable when I read of Cardinal athletes that excel in the classroom as well as on the playing field. Being a student athlete in and of itself is difficult and time consuming beyond belief. To be able to do so at a championship caliber while majoring in something substantive and worthwhile (and actually learn it!) is remarkable indeed. Congrats to Courtney, Caitlynn, and Ericka. Go Cards!

Scott Secor Named Semifinalist for Groza Award

BSULogoIt’s been an evolving season of bright spots for the Cardinals, but I’d say one of the more consistent things about this 2014 season has been the performance of senior placekicker Scott Secor. As we’ve mentioned, it’s likely that Secor will have set the single-season record for made field goals when 2014 is complete, and it’s now being noticed by people outside of the Cardinal football family as it was announced Thursday that Secor has been named one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, given annually to the nation’s best kicker.

Per the BSU release…

MUNCIE, Ind. – Scott Secor, a senior placekicker for the Ball State football team, has been named one of 20 semifinalists for the 2014 Lou Groza Collegiate Placekicker Award presented by the Orange Bowl, according to the Palm Beach County Sports Commission.

The award is named in honor of one of the all-time great kickers in football history who played 21 seasons for the Cleveland Browns and set numerous franchise records and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1974.

Secor is tied for first in the nation with 21 field goals this season and entered the week first in the nation in field goals per game (2.63), 10th in scoring (10.4) and 3nd in field goal percentage (.808). His 21 field goals this season rank third on Ball State’s single-season list and is four behind the school record of 25 held by John Diettrich in 1985 and Steven Schott in 2012. Secor made a career long 55-yard field goal at Central Michigan this season and tallied a career best five field goals in Ball State’s win over Akron earlier this season.

Semifinalists will be voted on by Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches, media relations professionals, past Groza finalists, and national and regional football writers to select three finalists. These finalists will be announced Nov. 24, and honored at the 23rd annual Lou Groza Collegiate Placekicker Awards Banquet Dec. 9, in West Palm Beach, Florida. The winner will be announced live on ESPN at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show Dec. 11.

Secor is the only kicker from a Mid-American Conference school named to the list of semifinalists for the award.

The Cardinals will play at Massachusetts Wednesday on ESPNU before returning to Scheumann Stadium in Muncie, Ind., for a Nov. 22 home game vs. Eastern Michigan and finishing the regular season Nov. 28 at Bowling Green.

The last Cardinal I remember making it to the finalist stage for a national award was Scott Kovanda for the Ray Guy Award, given to the nation’s best punter. Kovanda didn’t win, but he was there for the big hullabaloo of the end of season awards. Good luck to Scott, and I’d say he’s quite deserving, you know, by leading the nation in field goals.

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.



Ball State Announces Football Awards

logo200Not necessarily “breaking” as it was announced this weekend, but a holiday on Monday and Fearless Leader being down with a sinus infection Tuesday means you get what you get when you get it. And seeing as it’s the dreaded offseason, any news is good news, even if it’s a couple of days late.

When I was a kid playing peewee football or little league or any other sport the highlight of the year was the end of year banquet. Unlike today’s sports leagues where everyone gets a trophy because parents these days are breeding generation after generation of kids that don’t value winning and competition, you got the hardware from a championship team, got some pizza, maybe some ice cream, and all was right with the world. You got to lord your accolades over those who didn’t get any or you got additional motivation to pick your game up for next year if you went home empty-handed. This have and have not dynamic is what made the sporting world go round. On Saturday in Muncie, several Cardinals entered the hallowed halls of the haves.

Ball State’s football team, under the direction of fourth-year head coach Pete Lembo, honored the 2013 Cardinals at the team’s annual Honors Banquet Saturday at the Horizon Convention Center in downtown Muncie.

Keith Wenning and Nathan Ollie were named the John Magnabosco Award winners as the team’s most valuable players on offense and defense, respectively. The Magnabosco Award is named in honor of Ball State’s head football coach from 1935-52. Magnabosco is the winningest football coach in Ball State history with 68 victories.

Wenning set Ball State single-season school records for passing yards (4,148), pass attempts (498), pass completions (319) and touchdown passes (35) in 2013. In addition, the All-Mid-American Conference Second-Team selection, also set career records for the Cardinals for passing yards (11,402), pass attempts (1,642), pass completions (1,035) and touchdown passes (92).

Ollie managed 72 total tackles in 2013, while leading the Cardinals with six quarterback hurries. Ollie 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.

Zack Ryan was named the recipient of the John Hodge Award as Ball State’s Most Valuable Freshman. The Hodge Award is given in memory of the 1974 Cardinal Varsity Club Chairman who died in 1977. The CVC is an organization of benefactors to Ball State’s intercollegiate athletics program.

Ryan, a redshirt freshman linebacker, ranked third on the team with 92 total tackles plus was fourth on the team with eight tackles for loss. Ryan added 2.5 sacks, one fumble recovery, one forced fumble and one quarterback hurry on the season. Ryan started all 13 games in his initial campaign and tallied a career high 11 tackles at Northern Illinois.

Jamill Smith was named the recipient of the Bill Reynolds Special Teams Award. The award is named in memory of Reynolds, who spent 31 years as a volunteer in the Ball State athletics department with an emphasis on the football program prior to his death in the summer of 2000.

Smith, who was named to the All-MAC Second Team as a kick returner and the third team as a wide receiver and punt returner, was third on the team with 67 receptions for 911 yards and eight touchdowns. He led the Cardinals with 26 kick returns for 677 yards and a 26.0 average. Smith, who has been co-recipient of the award the past two seasons, tallied 10 punt returns for 84 yards on the season.

Joseph Fazio received the Gene Booker Academic Award. The Academic Award has been given annually since 1978 and was named in honor of Gene Booker for the first time in 2011. Booker was a member of Ball State’s 1949 football team, which is the only unbeaten and untied team in the school’s 87 years of football.

Fazio, who owns a 3.769 cumulative grade-point average on Ball State’s 4.0 scale as a finance major, played in 13 games in 2013. After joining the team as a walk-on prior to the 2010 season, Fazio played in the final 26 games of his career as a free safety and on special teams.

Senior defensive tackle Joel Cox received the Mark Hays Inspiration Award, which is given to the person who demonstrates the greatest ability to motivate and inspire his teammates. The award is given in the memory of the late son of Kermit and the late Mary Ellen Hays, who spent their lives as fans and supporters of Ball State’s athletics program.

Cox managed 43 tackles in 2013 with two tackles for loss, one pass breakup and one fumble recovery. Cox tallied his sixth career blocked kick when he blocked an extra point attempt at Eastern Michigan. He posted a career best six tackles at North Texas, vs. Kent State and vs. Miami University this season.

Zane Fakes was awarded the Paul Schudel Strength and Conditioning Award, which is given to honor Ball State’s football coach from 1985-94 who led the Cardinals to the 1989 and 1993 MAC Championships. He guided Ball State to its first ever NCAA Division IA bowl games with appearances in the 1989 California Raisin Bowl and the 1993 Las Vegas Bowl. Schudel completed his career with 60 wins, which was second in Ball State history, and ranked fifth in the Mid-American Conference with 47 victories.

Fakes, who was named to the All-MAC First Team as a tight end, managed 41 receptions for 410 yards and two touchdowns. Fakes earned his bachelor’s degree from Ball State last May and earned Capitol One Academic All-American honors this past fall, while pursuing his master’s degree.

The Bill Meitzler Scout Team Players of the Year were Denzel Pierce on offense and John Godfrey on defense. This award is given in honor of the former Cardinal Varsity Club Board member and longtime fan and supporter of Ball State football.

Connor Ryan, a senior wide receiver, received the Dave McClain Leadership Award. The McClain Award is given in memory of the deceased Dave McClain, who was Ball State’s head football coach from 1971-77 and guided the Cardinals to a 46-25-3 overall record. He guided the Cardinals into the Mid-American Conference and NCAA Division I football. McClain led Ball State to the 1976 MAC Championship in only the Cardinals second season in the conference. McClain’s final three Ball State teams posted a combined 26-7 overall mark and a 13-4 MAC mark.

Ryan, who missed two games and was limited for the majority of the season due to injury in 2013, managed 10 catches for 68 yards.

Ball State’s football program honored six with Ray Louthen Positional Awards, which honor the memory of Louthen, who was Ball State’s head football coach from 1962-67 and the school’s athletics director from 1970-81.

Jeffery Garrett (defensive back), Kenneth Lee (linebacker), Jonathan Newsome (defensive line), Willie Snead (wide receiver), Jahwan Edwards (running back) and Jordan Hansel (offensive line) were honored this season.

The Cardinals tallied a 10-3 overall record in 2013 and appeared in the GoDaddy Bowl, marking the school’s second straight bowl appearance. The 10 wins marked only third time in the school’s 89 years of football a team has posted at least 10 victories in a single season. The back-to-back bowl games marks only the second time for that to occur in the school’s history, while the seven MAC wins marked only the fifth time to reach that number since joining the league in 1975.

Your TL;DR synopsis: There are multiple people who made the 2013 version of the football Cardinals as successful as they were, which by the way, was arguably in the top 5 of successful seasons by most any measure. Congrats to the award winners and I hope the meal was as delicious as the pizza was when I was 8. (It probably wasn’t, because when you’re 8, pizza is the shit.)

UPDATE: We have received some news on the menu. From a source: Meal was some kind of roast, pecan breaded chicken, steam mixed veggies, quarter potatoes, salad, dessert was cheesecake for the most part. Yeah… I’ll take the pizza.

UPDATE 2: We’ve been informed that the chef for this particular banquet is actually a BSU football alum. I’m sure the meal was delicious, but for me, you could put filet mignon or turducken on the menu, and nothing is going to be as amazing as that pizza was for 8-year old me. FACT.

Cards Clean Up on the All-MAC Teams

MACLost in the “Will He or Won’t He?!” Lembogasm going on in the fanbase the last couple days was the fact that the Fighting Football Cardinals decimated the rest of the conference in the season ending All-MAC teams. The MAC announced yesterday the honors and the Cards led the conference with 15 names landing on the lists, though no Cardinal was awarded one of the premier type of season-long awards (Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, etc.). Your honored Cardinals:

First team
Offensive Linemen – Jordan Hansel
Tight End – Zane Fakes
Wide Receiver – Willie Snead
Down Lineman – Jonathan Newsome

Second team
Quarterback – Keith Wenning
Running Back – Jahwan Edwards
Inside Linebacker – Ben Ingle
Down Lineman – Nate Ollie
Defensive Back – Jeff Garrett
Kickoff Return Specialist – Jamill Smith

Third team
Center – Jacob Richard
Wide Receiver – Jordan Williams
Wide Receiver – Jamill Smith
Placekicker – Scott Secor
Punt Return Specialist – Jamill Smith

The things I think deserve at least a cursory grumble is Nathan Ollie not landing on the All-MAC 1st team, as well as Quake Edwards. Granted. David Fluellen from Toledo and Brandon Oliver from Buffalo are solid options, I just think Quake did more to deserve the honor this season. Perhaps the biggest qualm I have is Jordan Williams not landing a second-team selection but will own that’s probably just my bias toward Jordan. Though irksome, in reality the things mentioned are me just splitting hairs. Jamill Smith hit the trifecta of punt return, kick return, and wide receiver, so that makes up a bit for the mistakes above. Congrats to the Cards on the honors they well deserved, and now you may return to your worrying, hand-wringing, and fretting about flight plans. If you’d like to see the all conference teams in their entirety and see first hand some more fawning over of Jordan Lynch and Rod Carey, you can check it out here.

Kovanda On the Ray Guy Shortlist

We chatted a bit last week about the tradition of Specialist U, and Scott Kovanda has a one in three chance of adding to that legacy as he is a finalist for the Ray Guy Award for the nation’s top punter. He’ll also be heading to Orlando, Florida for the awards show on December 6th on an ESPN broadcasted show. Mark your calendars, and I hope Lee Corso gets his Scott Kovanda head ready to put on.

What say you, BSU release?

Scott Kovanda, a senior punter on the Ball State football team, is one of three finalists for the Ray Guy Award, which goes to the nation’s best collegiate punter.

“Scott Kovanda has had an outstanding career here at Ball State both on and off the field,” Ball State second-year head coach Pete Lembo says. “It has been a pleasure to work with him closely the last two years. I am pleased to see his accomplishments are being recognized despite having a relatively small number of opportunities to showcase his talent this season.”

The other two finalists for the award are Ryan Allen of Louisiana Tech and Kyle Christy of Florida.

The Ray Guy Award – named for football’s premier punter – honors the nation’s best collegiate punter. The Augusta Sports Council created the award in 2000. Along with awards such as the Heisman Trophy and the Doak Walker Award, the Ray Guy Award honors one of the most important members of any football team. The ASC presents the award live each year on The Home Depot College Football Awards broadcast on ESPN from Orlando, Fla. This year’s show is slated for Dec. 6.

Kovanda, who serves as a team captain for the Cardinals, has punted 38 times this season and pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line 23 times. He has helped Ball State to rank fourth in the country in punt return defense with the Cardinals allowing only 1.5 yards per return and having only four punts returned this season. He has punted for 1,540 yards and a 40.5 average this season, including six punts of 50 or more yards.

One of 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award in 2011, Kovanda has 220 career punts for 9,029 yards and a 41.0 career average. He ranks fourth all-time at Ball State in career punt yardage, fourth in career punts and third in career punt average.

The Ray Guy Award winner is selected by a national voting body of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) coaches, sports information directors, national media and former Ray Guy Award winners. Punters are evaluated on their overall statistics and contribution to the team. Particular emphasis is place on the following statistics: net average, percentage of total punts inside the 20-yard line and percentage of punts not returned.

Kovanda is the latest in a long line of punters from Ball State.

Brad Maynard (1993-96) set the Ball State career record with a 44.2 average and was a consensus All-American as a senior. Maynard was also named the Mid-American Conference Player of the Year and the MAC’s Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. He competed 15 years in the National Football League.

Reggie Hodges, the punter for the Cleveland Browns, is in his seventh year in the NFL. Chris Miller completed his Ball State career in 2008 ranked second in Ball State record books with 10,342 punt yards and broke Maynard’s career average with a 44.77 mark.

Kovanda marks the second player in the history of the ESPN Home Depot Awards Show to be invited as a finalist for an award. Dante Ridgeway was one of three finalists for the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s most outstanding wide receiver in 2004.

Join us in wishing good luck to Scott for this really remarkably prestigious award. It’s rare that punters get to enjoy the spotlight, but I hope he gets his chance.

The Legacy of Specialist U Continues

Steven Schott (left) and Scott Kovanda (right) are in the running for two national awards

Some football programs are known for the staggering offense. Take the current version of the Oregon Ducks. Ask even a casual fan of college football and usually after they mention the uniforms or the mascot, they’ll reference the Oregon offense. Watching the speed and precision of the Duck attack is like poetry in motion and like a good indie record or an under the radar movie, it will suck in even the most casual observer and leave a lasting impression.

On the flip side of the line of scrimmage, there’s the defense. Teams like LSU and Alabama in recent memory have been known to use their defense as the ladder they climb to the heights of athletic consciousness. It isn’t as sexy as stunning offense or eye-popping scoreboard explosions, but the purists will tell you that offense comes and goes but defense rarely completely falters.

For Ball State, we’ve had a little of column A and not much of column B over the last decade. The offense in 2008 was obviously one of the best in BSU history (recent or otherwise) but outside of that year, I wouldn’t say that offense and defense has ever been something that BSU can hang their hat on in terms of the national conversation. But that doesn’t mean that the Cardinals aren’t worth talking about.

For years, BSU to their fans and diehards have been known as Punter U. That’s really to be expected when a program lands top-notch punters on NFL rosters like Brad Maynard and Reggie Hodges. However, most fans forget about John Diettrich who was a placekicker for the Houston Oilers in 1987. Perhaps a more appropriate nickname for this Cardinal team is Specialist U.

Those specialists probably more than any other position group get exponentially more blame than credit and yet in many cases have the biggest impact on the course of a game and season. When Maynard was at BSU he won Defensive Player of the Year and MVP. As. A. Punter. Ask the defense that year if he made their lives easier by lengthening the field. Ask the offense in recent memory how good it was to have Ian McGarvey to count on when a drive stalled out inside the opponent’s 35. Though not as sexy as a stifling defense or off the charts offense, it’s just as critical if not more so. Special teams are appropriately named.

So it comes as no surprise that the legacy of Specialist U is continuing this year as Scott Kovanda has been named a semi-finalist for the Ray Guy Award for the top collegiate punter and Steven Schott has been named a semi-finalist for the Lou Groza Award for the nation’s top placekicker. To the BSU releases…

Scott Kovanda, a senior on the Ball State football team, has been selected as one of 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award.

The Ray Guy Award – named for football’s premier punter – honors the nation’s best collegiate punter. The Augusta Sports Council created the award in 2000. Along with awards such as the Heisman Trophy and the Doak Walker Award, the Ray Guy Award honors one of the most important members of any football team.

This marks the second straight season Kovanda has been named a semifinalist for the award. A Ball State team captain, he has helped the Cardinals rank fourth in the nation in punt return defense. Of his 35 punts this season, only four have been returned for a 1.5 average, and he has pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line 22 times.

Kovanda has punted 35 times for 1,442 yards and a 41.2 average. He has 217 career punts for 8,931 career punt yards and a 41.2 career average. Kovanda ranks fourth in Ball State history in career punt yardage, fourth in career punts and third in career average.

The Ray Guy Award winner is selected by a national voting body of Football Bowl Subdivision coaches, sports information directors, national media and former Ray Guy Award winners. Punters are evaluated on their overall statistics and contribution to the team. Particular emphasis is place on the following statistics: net average, percentage of total punts inside the 20-yard line and percentage of punts not returned.

The presentation of the Ray Guy Award will be featured on The Home Depot College Football Awards live Thurs., December 6 at 7:30 pm ET on ESPN.

Ball State is 7-3 overall and 4-2 in Mid-American Conference play. The Cardinals host Ohio Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Scheumann Stadium before completing the regular season at Miami University Nov. 23. Ball State is bowl eligible for a second straight season under second-year head coach Pete Lembo.

For Schott’s award potential…

Steven Schott (Massillon, Ohio/Washington H.S.), a senior placekicker for the Ball State football team, has been selected as one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, which goes to the nation’s most outstanding collegiate football placekicker.

The Palm Beach County Sports Commission released the names of the 20 semifinalists. Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches, collegiate media relations directors, past Groza winners and regional and national football writers will select three finalists. The finalists will be announced Nov. 19, and honored at the 21st annual Lou Groza Collegiate Placekicker Awards Banquet Dec. 4, in West Palm Beach, Fla. The winner will be announced live on the Home Depot ESPN College Football Awards Show Thurs., Dec. 6.

Schott ranks second in the nation with 2.22 field goals made per game and is tied for 15th in the country in scoring with 10.33 points per contest. He has made 20 field goals in 2012, which ranks second on Ball State’s single-season chart. Schott needs six field goals to set the school’s single-season record and pass John Diettrich, who made 25 field goals in 1985.

Schott connected on a career long 52-yard field goal in the first quarter vs. Eastern Michigan in the season opener and made a 51-yard field goal in the second quarter of Ball State’s win at Indiana. Schott made a 42-yard field goal as time expired to give the Cardinals a 41-39 victory at Indiana.

Ball State is 7-3 overall and 4-2 in the Mid-American Conference. The Cardinals host Ohio Nov. 14, and complete the regular season at Miami University Nov. 23.

Good luck to both Scott and Steven as they attempt to carry the torch of Specialist U!

Briggs Orsbon Named Academic AllAmerican

While ESPN is airing its college football awards show and the Heisman is this weekend, BSU got its own taste of award awesomeness today as senior wide receiver Briggs Orsbon was named a 1st Team Academic All American. Per the BSU release…

Briggs Orsbon, a senior member of the Ball State 2011 football team, has been named to the Capital One Academic All-America First Team as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

Orsbon, who owns a 4.0 grade-point average on Ball State’s 4.0 scale as a risk management and finance major, is the first Ball State football player selected to the Capital One Academic All-America First Team since Travis Barclay was named to the squad in 2002 and 2003. Orsbon becomes only the eighth football student-athlete in school history to earn first-team honors.

“We could not be happier for Briggs to be the recipient of this prestigious honor,” Ball State first-year head coach Pete Lembo says. “He is a model student-athlete and a tremendous competitor. Briggs was a great leader and a major contributor to our team’s success this year. We are confident he will continue to be an asset to the University as an alum of our football program.”

A 2011 All-Mid-American Conference Second-Team selection, Orsbon was also a candidate for the 2011 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award. He is a two-time Capital One Academic All-District choice and a two-time Academic All-MAC recipient.

Orsbon, one of Ball State’s team captains in 2011, led the Cardinals with 66 catches for 649 receiving yards and four touchdown catches this season. In addition to his pass catching skills in 2011, Orsbon tallied a 19.9 yards per kickoff return average.

With his five catches at Northern Illinois this season, Orsbon became only the second player in Ball State history to tally 200 or more career receptions. He completed his career with 204 catches and ranks second in the Cardinals record books behind only Dante Ridgeway’s 238 receptions from 2002-04. With his 103 receiving yards at Western Michigan, Orsbon became only the sixth player in Ball State history to post over 2,000 yards receiving in a career. He completes his collegiate career with 2,218 receiving yards, which ranks fifth all time in Ball State history. Orsbon set MAC Championship Game records with a career high 13 catches for a career best 141 yards vs. Buffalo in the 2008 league title game.

Ball State entered the 2011-12 academic year ranked 32nd in the country all-time in Capital One Academic All-America selections.

The Cardinals finished the 2011 season with a 6-6 overall record and a 4-4 MAC mark. Ball State was bowl eligible for the first time since the 2008 season and won six games for the fourth time in 10 seasons.

The Cardinals may have closed the books on the ’11 season, but it’s nice to see Briggs get some love from the nation’s SIDs. I would venture a guess that if there were an award for a senior that has been through the most chaos in his career Briggs would be near the top of that list as well. Always nice to see a student-athlete get recognized for the “student” portion of that  moniker. Congrats, Briggs!

2009 Sports Blog Heisman

Similar to last season, OTP has been asked to cast our official ballot for the SportsBlog Heisman Trophy hosted over at The Blue Workhorse. This season, significantly tougher than last year, mostly because unlike last year, where there was a plethora of very worthy candidates, that’s not really the case in 2009. Perhaps it’s the lack of QBs that are head and shoulders above the pack. Perhaps it’s a lack of a go-to candidate being the driving force behind a team’s national title hopes. Hard to say… but we’ve gone from the QB Triple Threat match of 2009 to a year that a defensive tackle is getting serious consideration as a Heisman Trophy finalist. Strange times that we’re living in.

In terms of OTP’s ballot, I solicited some feedback from Edge and RV, but they are not responsible for the logic here or the ballot that follows. Unless you hate it or vehemently disagree. In that case, it’s all Edge. I looked at this season much the same way as last year, and considered the Heisman Trophy to be a measure of value to the team. Does the team have to be successful? Of course, otherwise the value is diminished. Does the team have to play decent competition? You bet. Otherwise we’d be awarding the Heisman every year to some freak from a mid-major school that just rings up ridiculous statistics against inferior competition. So I consider our ballot to be an evaluation of a player’s results, coupled with the team’s success, that was achieved against opponents of note. Simple, right?

OTP’s Sports Blog Heisman Ballot

1.) Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford: To call Toby Gerhart dominant would be a disservice. In fact, I’m not sure adjectives exist to fully grasp the impact that Gerhart had on not only Stanford, but the teams he played against. Considering only his statistics, Gerhart’s 1736 yards and 26 TDs is ridiculous. Taking a further look at how those yards were gained tells a more complete story. The Cardinal went to Gerhart early and often, and he always delivered, including a pounding of Oregon for 223 and 3 TDs. In terms of overall value to the Cardinal, Gerhart was held under 100 yards twice this season, and both were losses for Stanford. It’s safe to say that without Gerhart, this 2009 season for Stanford would have unfolded considerably different and their 8-4 record would have been an unreachable pipe dream, and he clearly excels in the areas of performance, value, and strength of opponents.

2.) Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama: In years past, being the go to guy on an undefeated national championship contender was a near sure-fire way to garner votes for the Heisman. Mark Ingram unfortunately is overshadowed at times by a killer defense for the Crimson Tide, who collectively are more responsible for the success of Bama than Ingram. His stats, while not as impressive as Gerhart’s, are elevated (at least in my mind) because of who they came against. Running roughshod over the SEC is truly worthy of recognition, and Ingram’s 1542 yards and 15 TDs against some of the best defenses in the country make his stats considerably more impressive than they already are. Ingram did struggle with injuries a bit this season that kept him out of the Auburn game, but did bounce back with a 3 TD performance and critical conversions in the Florida game that helped Bama to the SEC title.

3.) Colt McCoy, QB, Texas: When 2009 dawned, it largely appeared that the Heisman Trophy was Colt McCoy’s to lose. As Tebow was knocked down and out, Bradford was injured, and Texas continued to win it was a virtual certainty that McCoy would add his name to the list of winners. McCoy certainly performed adequately throughout the season, and his team is undefeated and playing for a national championship, but McCoy’s 09 numbers pale in comparison to some other contenders this season and most definitely in comparison to his own numbers from 2008. Having said that, though, you’d be hard pressed to find a player across the country save for Tebow, more valuable than McCoy for his team’s attitude, performance, and success. 3512 yards and 27 TDs are the raw numbers through the air, but often overlooked is McCoy’s ability to scramble and use his legs for conversions, TDs, and keeping opposing defenses in check in critical situations. While the Heisman is a single-year award, there is some level of career achievement fueling McCoy’s votes this season, and I’m ok with that.

This award allows us to give an honorable mention to a candidate that is worthy of some attention even though they didn’t deserve a Top 3 spot on the ballot. Clearly, we could reach down and pick someone obvious like Ndamukong Suh or CJ Spiller, because frankly if our ballot went to 5, they would be there. Instead, we’ll go a bit outside of the box. Fittingly, our honorable mention is also a running back, as 2010 seemed to be dominated by them

Honorable Mention: Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh: To have a freshman running back succeed at the college level is a rarity. To have a freshman running back dominate is virtually unheard of. To have a freshman running back do all that and never once cough up the football is a rarity so unbelievable that it got Lewis recognized on our ballot. 1640 yards and 16 TDs were Lewis’ totals through the regular season, but more impressive is the amount of times he carried the ball. Lewis went over 20 carries 10 times this season, including a remarkable 47 carries in the season-ender against Cincy. I think it’s safe to say that Pitt has found the next version of LeSean McCoy and their 9-3 season rests solely in the hands of Lewis.