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The Iron Curtain Known as Ball State Athletics

When it comes to transparency with the public Ball State takes after Moscow.

The resignation of Kelly Packard on March, 21 was deeply troubling and not because of the event itself but by how administration handled the situation.

Here is the news release from Tom Collins.

“I respect Kelly’s unforced decision to step down as the head women’s basketball coach at Ball State University,” said Collins. “Kelly has represented Ball State University with class and dignity, and has been a great role model for her student-athletes. Her leadership has provided her players with a solid foundation for success following their collegiate careers. She has been a great member of the Ball State Athletics family, and we wish her and her family the best of luck in their future endeavors.”

The word “unforced” is the key.

Even my 83-year-old grandma thinks that is bogus.

How many resignations occur in sports where the athletic department places no pressure on the coach to find a new place of employment?

Not many.

The only one at Ball State that I can think of is, ironically, Packard’s predecessor Tracy Roller.

The few times where coaches resign without pressure from the athletic department usually involves health reasons and that does not apply to Packard as far as we know.

Instead of being transparent Ball State chose to present a weather balloon story. Packard declined interviews with the Star Press which again is weird. Whatever happened between Packard and Collins we do not know? What I do know is it is tough to buy the department’s story of events.

Packard’s departure is justified. Two straight seasons of 9-21 turns fans away faster than someone passing gas in a car.

Still, why did this go down in such a mysterious manner?

Who thought Russia and Ball State sports would have common ground? I guess that is better than having common ground with the Jamaican Bobsled team.

In the fall of 2009, Packard was the only coach Collins could point to and say “What a good hire I made.” The women’s team won the MAC tournament for the first time in school history and beat Tennessee in the first round of the NCAA. The joke among some Daily News sports writers was Collins kissed a picture of Packard before he went to bed each night as she was the only one keeping fan support alive for him.

Days earlier Collins announced the decision to bring back Billy Taylor with vague justification for doing so. If Collins wanted Packard back he would have given her the same endorsement at the same time of Taylor’s. That alone means Packard was pressured to leave. Rather than stay in limbo she chose the only option she could.

Yet the athletic department still had the nerve to say it was “unforced.”

At the very least, Packard was pressured in such an indirect way with the endorsement of Taylor and no mention of her status.

Compared to Packard, Taylor has the same if not less of a defense for keeping his job.

The men’s team folded in 2012. They had talent but did not reach potential.

Packard’s teams the last two years were the opposite; lack of talent but hard-working.

Packard missed on her first few recruiting classes but appeared to get better with freshman and sophomores earning starts. Packard could at least make the argument that when the younger players matured her team could make a run at the MAC again.

Taylor could not even say that. This was his mature team as seniors Jarrod Jones and Randy Davis are abandoning ship.

Every news release from the athletic department seems to raise more questions than answers and even worse, comes across as arrogant.

Does the department truly believe that fans will buy into Packard resigning without pressure to do so?

Does the department truly believe that fans will buy into one more year of Taylor because he has good APR scores?

Does the department truly believe that serving a dish of horse manure to fans will not have any repercussions in terms of booster dollars and attendance?

Sign me up to the Cardinal Varsity Club now!

Sure, the athletic department has been burned by the media in the past but getting revenge on the Muncie Star Press for negative coverage (or what they think is negative coverage) is not going make things better. If a media outlet screws you over simply go to an alternate. I heard a blog called overthepylon.net would be more than willing to lend a hand.

I sure hope the new athletic director opens the department to the outside world. I am tired of coaching decisions going down as if the CIA is wire tapping all the phones in 47360 ZIP code.

Until then, it is a beautiful spring day here in Moscow, Indiana.

Big Weekend for Ball State Volleyball and the MAC

Ball State Men’s Volleyball Upsets No. 10 Ohio State

Ball State snapped an 11-match losing streak to Ohio State Sunday winning 3-2 (21-25, 25-23, 23-25, 25-23, 15-12) in one of the best performances I have seen in person as a Ball State fan.

The win meant clearing a mental hurdle for Ball State. Hopefully, Ball State can get back to winning MIVA championships in the future. Ohio State can no longer claim Muncie as a second residence and that is a start.

Whenever Ball State takes one from the juggernaut from Columbus it is time to celebrate.

What is shocking is this Ball State team only has one senior on the roster and were still able to win. Even more shocking is Ball State gave away the first and third sets as it had chances in both. This match did not have to go five sets.

The fact is men’s volleyball games are typically more exciting to the student body than basketball and football games in my four years here.

The men’s volleyball team has the ability to compete for national championships (few schools have a team) if adequately funded.  Coach Joel Walton has had to build a team with a meager amount of scholarships in the past. Tom Collins has increased the team’s budget in recent years but it could be a moot point when the new athletic director comes in.

President Gora has a huge decision ahead of her. She could find an athletic director that is all about football and let the other sports fight for themselves. Or she could hire one who is dedicated to the “Olympic” sports. Mid-majors like Ball State do not have the resources to go all out in both.

Personally, I want the latter. The geography favors Ball State in both basketball  and volleyball.  Muncie is the volleyball capital of the Midwest and the state is loaded with great basketball players. Indiana is weaker than Ohio and Michigan in terms of high school football talent.

Given the chance, the men’s and women’s volleyball programs can do some special things. I hope the new athletic director is more than accommodating to those programs.

Billy Taylor is Back

Collins made it clear that Billy Taylor will be returning as men’s basketball coach next season. In other news women’s basketball coach Kelly Packard bit her last fingernail as no word has come down on her future.  The fingernail part is a joke but why say one coach is back without mentioning the other?

Here is a quote from Collins in the news release.

“When we hired Coach Taylor we knew we were in for a major rebuilding project in regards to our men’s basketball program. When he became our coach prior to the 2007 season, we had to address many concerns within the program.  There were on-court issues, academic issues, APR and compliance concerns.  In addition, we had severe community and public relations issues.  Coach Taylor and his staff have done an outstanding job and worked tirelessly to improve our program in many areas.  Although, we were all disappointed with the 2011-12 season, it will not deter us from reaching all of our goals with the program and with its place in Ball State University’s mission.”

There is enough spin in that paragraph to make Bill O’Reilly sick. We do not know how much impact of having a lame duck athletic director had to do with this but given the flimsy “APR” defense we know it had quite a bit. Nothing inspires fan support and sells tickets like good APR scores.

Nice smile Billy. That is more emotion than what we see in some of your games.

The new argument for Ball State having a chance next season in the Muncie Star Press is the quantity of 3-point shooters. Ball State had plenty of 3-point shooters this past year so it is not an argument that makes a great deal of sense.

Ball State needs guard Juwan Scaife back to his former self. Once Taylor benched him in favor of other guards he became frustrated. If Scaife is not a key part of the offense and fails to take the role as senior leader the season will be get away from Ball State quick.

Ohio Advances to the Sweet Sixteen

With Ohio showing up Big Ten and Big East teams I hope the days of the MAC champion getting a 13 seed or worse are over.  Akron was a 15 last year and Ohio was a 14 two years ago.

MAC fans know the conference is better than that as the rest of the country is discovering. Akron was not even seen as bubble team this year. We will see a MAC school get an at-large bid to the big dance sometime this decade. Maybe Ball State will be that team with their amazing 3-point shooting next year.

While we are at it maybe Newt Gingrich will be president.

Jay Steilberg Steps Down From BSU

Jay Steilberg... once a Card, always a Card

Most fans of a program are aware of the head coach, the star players, and the household names that make up a program. What gets lost in that shuffle for the casual observer and is really only noted by the extremely vested fan are the folks further down the coaching tree or those in the administration of the Athletics Department. Oftentimes, those folks are really the meat and potatoes to making the program run. Whether it be coordinating visits, sending out mass mailings, or simply ensuring that the program has what it needs to function, those folks are the unsung heroes amidst the staff. Consider Ball State’s Jay Steilberg to be one of those folks. After today, however, Steilberg is a former unsung hero as he has resigned from his position as Assistant Athletics Director for Football Operations with the Cardinals.

In this exclusive report, OTP reached out to Steilberg and he had this to say to Cardinal fans:

I have resigned to take a position with National Collegiate Scouting Association as a national collegiate scout. It was a very difficult decision to step away from a program that I’ve put my heart and soul and many hours of work into over the last eight years. I truly believe with all my heart that Ball State could be the premiere football program in the conference and could play on a national stage every year as it did in 2008. Unfortunately I don’t think the administration shares my enthusiasm for the program. I wish all the best to the players and fans of the Cardinal program and want to thank them for a great eight years. I will always cherish the memory of seeing the field rushed by fans as we completed our perfect regular season by beating WMU on ESPN and looking at the national rankings with the Cardinals right up there with the best in the nation. This can and should be an annual event. Things have changed and its best for everyone that I take this great opportunity for my career.

Since 2003 Steilberg has had an intricate hand in shaping the Cardinal program and being a part of one of the greatest athletic resurrections in school history. OTP, and hopefully the rest of Cardinal Nation, wishes Jay well as he pursues this opportunity with the National Collegiate Scouting Association. And of course, you’re welcome for the field storming. It really was the least we could do. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get my resume ready.

Stan Parrish Makes Cameo on Tom Brady Slurpfest

I am admittedly not the world’s biggest NFL fan. Yes, I keep up with the Colts and Bears as the two most local NFL teams to my Indiana roots, but for the most part, I can take or leave the copious amounts of inflated salaries and inflated egos of the boys who play on Sunday. So unlike most NFL die hards, I was not in fact glued to my television tonight for the ballwashing of Tom Brady that ESPN broadcasted as part of their Year of the QB (whatever the hell that is) and instead went about my nightly routine of the gym, dinner, and other assorted offseason adult type time fillers.

When I finally plopped down on the sofa to catch up on some DVR’d awesomeness, ESPN was on and this was the image that greeted me when the TV finally powered on:

Don’t adjust your monitors. All up in your face is a blast from the Ball State not too distant past as one Stan Parrish got himself some screen time as they were apparently recapping Brady’s Michigan years.

Suffice to say, this didn’t leave me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside, and instead sort of made the frustration and unhappiness about the last couple years that I thought was long since buried bubble up to the surface. Say what you will about Stan as a head coach at BSU, as a Coordinator or position coach throughout his career it is hard to argue or question his ability or results. It was a little perspective I guess since his ability and results as a head coach demonstrated with his time at BSU are also unable to be argued or questioned. The fact that those two arguments have very different outcomes is still puzzling. Parrish has become a bit of a hermit since leaving the program, with no press, no job, and nothing really Stan related trickling out into the public domain. Something tells me Stan was watching tonight, though, whether he’s an NFL fan or not.

Lembo Newsletter & Lynch Q&A

The Lembo Newsletter is Coming to Your Inbox

Despite the fact that it’s the long cold winter part of the offseason between the signing day festivities and the beginning of spring practice, news and things of note out of Muncie has been coming at a fever pitch the last few days with some quite cool nuggets for fans to peruse.

First and foremost is the ability for fans to sign up for the Pete Lembo newsletter. Ball State is billing it as your opportunity to hear directly from Coach Lembo about the goings on in the program and all that jazz. Now do I expect something Earth shaking to be revealed in said newsletter when it begins to be electronically circulated? No. However, it’s just another example of Coach Lembo pushing this Cardinals program in a new direction, a direction that acknowledges and appreciates the fanbase and hopefully keeps them enthused as the season wears on. To sign up for the Lembo updates, you can click here and provide your email address. Color me impressed again with the BSU football program and their new direction under Lembo.

The second little nugget is a continuation of the coach Q&A’s we’ve begun to see this offseason. This current edition features former Cardinal player and current Cardinal coach Joey Lynch. It’s not a secret to anyone even moderately familiar in BSU fandom that the Lynch ties to BSU run quite deep. You can read Joey’s responses here. Interesting nuggets in his responses about the tempo of the team for fall (no huddle) and the players he expects to shine (David Schneider and Zane Fakes). Definitely worth a read.

Only a few more weeks to spring ball! Go Cards!

Lembo Reaches Out to BSU Football Alums

It’s been said that new Cardinals head coach Pete Lembo has been working diligently his first few weeks to get the program in good standing with as many vested parties as possible. He certainly has done that with the casual fan, through his introductory press conference, basketball game interviews, and fan meet and greets around the Muncie area. He’s reached out to businesses and economic leaders through the visit with the Muncie/Delaware County Chamber of Commerce breakfast last week. He’s also taken it upon himself to reach out to the football alums, and a giant hat tip to a friend of OTP and alum of the program for passing that letter on to us for your enjoyment.

Page 1 (click image below to enlarge):

Page 2 (click image below to enlarge):

You may be asking yourself why Coach Lembo blacked out his contact info, and that’s something we did (same as the OTP logo). While information like that isn’t exceptionally difficult to find, there’s no way we’re serving it up on a silver platter for the random internet folks to have a field day with. See… blogs CAN be responsible!

Perhaps I’m making a big deal out of nothing with all of this and the public outreach that Coach Lembo has done. Perhaps I’m grasping at flimsy straws to make myself feel excited and comfortable with a new regime and fresh leadership. Perhaps I’m setting myself up for disappointment. All of the above could be true, but for now, it feels good, quite good actually, to have a coach in charge that seems to “get it”. Say what you will about his experience and FCS resume, but so far, Coach Lembo has done nothing but impress. From the recruiting class to the outreach, so far so good.

Lembo & Staff Hit the Town

For the longest time, there has been some serious strain on the town-gown relationships between the greater Muncie community and the Ball State football team. This could of course be attributed to a whole host of reasons, ranging from a lack of consistent success to the depressed economic situation in East Central Indiana. Give new head coach Pete Lembo credit, though, as he’s come charging out of the gate to try and drum up some local interest and perhaps some financial benefit from forming a closer relationship with the city of Muncie and its business leaders. What will help the most in that endeavor will happen next fall should the Cardinals post impressive wins. For now, we’ll settle for the Muncie Chamber of Commerce and the gladhanding that happened this morning with Lembo and his staff. Photo evidence!

Best way to get a coaching staff up early? Free breakfast.

Granted, hitting up the Delaware County-Muncie Chamber of Commerce might not translate to anything tangible in terms of support, dollars, or interest. But what can it hurt? Honestly, that’s always been the thing that sort of grinded my gears about some of our previous head coaches. It just seemed, for lack of a better term, that they didn’t “get it”. Go to any successful football program around the country and these sorts of breakfasts are common. It makes the staff seem dedicated and a part of the community. It may ingratiate some people. It may ingratiate some people that own businesses. It may make some of those people with businesses step forward with donations or sponsorships. Funny how sometimes little things like breakfasts and speaking to a gathered body of power brokers (even in little old Muncie, IN) can reap tremendous dividends at a later date.

There’s an old saying… “Act As If…”. Vying for a promotion against someone that may be a tad bit better than you? Act as if that company couldn’t exist without you. (Make sure you say nothing about the office supplies and long distance that you help yourself to.) Hitting on a potential bedmate way out of your league? Act as if you turned down Katy Perry because she’s really let herself go. Coaching a budget-strapped MidAmerican Conference school coming off two straight years of mediocrity? Never coached a FBS team before? Act as if you’re the head coach that is ready to stomp ass, take names, break necks, and cash checks. And Lembo seems to be doing just that.

Lucas Oil, DUIs, New Recruits, and Coach Chats. What an Offseason So Far

NFL Stadiums, DUIs, and new recruits?!? OH MY!

You know, sort of like the Howard Stern show curse, where whenever the King of All Media takes a week off from his radio show, celebrities die, usually in bunches, and all without the commentary of Howard, Robin, Fred and Bababooey the last couple weeks have been a whirlwind of Ball State footballness despite our inability to comment, report, or crack wise about the goings on. Have you been paying attention and not swamped at work? Then feel free to let us know what we haven’t caught up on. Been a bit behind yourself? Then read on for the highlight, or the lowlights as the case may be…

 

Looking Forward to the IU Game Next Fall? Hope You Get Good Mileage
What was talked about for most of the winter has finally become a reality as Ball State announced it is moving the scheduled 2011 home game with Indiana University away from Scheumann Stadium and instead to Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis. Not surprisingly, the reaction from a good percentage of the fanbase has been less than stellar, hurling barbs about how it isn’t fair, it’s a stupid decision, the administration doesn’t care about the fans, on and on and on. Also equally not surprising has been the reaction from IU fans, who have apparently forgotten the last time that BSU and IU met on the turf, their expectations of crushing “that little teacher’s college” didn’t really work out all that well. Hoosier faithful apparently have no interest in traveling to the mighty metropolis of Muncie, IN and they seem quite confident that the crowd at Lucas will be overwhelmingly pro-Indiana.

Of course, there is reason to complain a bit, but only briefly. Yes, it would have been nice to have a Big 10 opponent come to the Scheu. Playing the game in Muncie may have generated a large student turnout (assuming they didn’t go home for Labor Day). Finally, it would have meant a comfortable experience both in cost and planning for season ticket holders and folks local to the Muncie area. Those are the positives and in reality, it’s just another home game albeit against an in-state rival from a BCS conference, which doesn’t happen in Muncie very often. Fans that take that perspective though are missing the overwhelming possibilities for this move. First and foremost is the financial benefit for the Cardinals. This isn’t some sort of neutral site made for television contest. This is still BSU’s home game, which means the revenue stream is significantly widened. Not only are the tickets more expensive, there are more of them to sell, and for a program on a shoestring budget already an increase in revenue is a gifthorse not to be looked in the mouth. So many fans and supporters bemoan the lack of facilities, our inability to pay well for coaches, and the general atmosphere of spendthriftness around the U. Doing all that and then panning this move makes you at best a cynical asshole and at worst a full-blown hypocrite.

This is also an opportunity to get the Indy alums on board with this program and catch the Cards in action. So many of our friends would like to go to games, but the drive to Muncie is just far enough and hassle enough to make other Saturday plans more appealing. A good experience, and hopefully a win, may reel these folks in as the season progresses. Last, but probably not lease despite the fact that no one is really talking about it is the experience for the players. Granted, playing games in Ypsilanti or Oxford I’m sure is exciting to the point of butterflies, but MAC student athletes playing in an NFL stadium is something that they may treasure for a while. All in all… good move.

Welcome to the Program, Now Blow in This
Terry Lantz has had a hell of a first ten days in the Ball State program. Just nine days after being hired by Pete Lembo to coach the safeties, Lantz got stopped and subsequently arrested for DUI at the always treacherous intersection of University and Dill. No word on where he was coming from, but I pray he wasn’t at Dill Street. If that’s the case, his lack of judgment about where to imbibe and poor taste in bars is far more troubling than his decision to get behind the wheel. Lantz blew a .16, which is bombed by any definition and just royally sucks for him and the program. No word on what his punishment will be, whether he’ll keep his job, or what his beverage of choice was. I’ll go with counseling, zero tolerance, keeps the job, and amaretto sours. The good news in all of this is the direct correlation between law breaking and victories. Further proving this new staff’s commitment, they didn’t even wait for the players to screw up and get to meet Muncie’s finest, they grabbed that bull by the horns themselves. Commitment never sleeps. But commitment does deliver mugshot gold:

Is a trial even needed with a photo like this?

We’re in Your Sunshine and Golden States, Stealing Your Recruits
Eric Patterson from Tampa, Florida (according to the Tampa Tribune) is trading in beaches, warm weather, and sunshine for Muncie. Go us! Patterson is a 5’9″ 174 lb corner, who also has experience returning kicks. Patterson picked the Cards over a few FCS offers but also MAC brethren Ohio and Buffalo. Also added to the Lembo fold this past weekend was California OLB Michael Ayers. A general athlete in high school, the 6’2 200-pounder played both LB and QB and chose BSU over Sacramento State and San Jose State. Whether or not this program can get these players from so far out of state to actually complete 4 years remains to be seen, but it’s nice to see the staff reaching out past the de facto borders that the last few staffs placed on recruiting.

Meet Some of Your New Coaches
In a surprising turn of events, the BSU athletics department has been johnny on the spot this offseason with news coming out and actual reasons to visit the website. We’ve long been a proponent of BSU shoring up its digital footprint, so to see our wishes slowly coming to reality is quite refreshing. In what is presumably an effort to ingratiate the new coaching staff with the fanbase, several Q+As have appeared with the assistant coaches and all have been insightful and energizing about this staff’s personality and values. Whether that translates to wins on the field come fall we’ll have to wait and see. Check them out yourself: Justin Lustig, Jay Bateman, Rich Skrosky.

Hoke to Michigan Should Stop the Fan Wars

When  Brady Hoke left his alma mater before the 2008 GMAC Bowl a chain of events started that no one could have foreseen. In the last two years, BSU football has certainly struggled on the field, there’s been several incidents off it, the press and fans have painted the administration as uncaring, incompetent, and non-committal all because Hoke took the opportunity to rebuild the San Diego State Aztecs and cement his resume for the next time the University of Michigan, his dream job, came open. With the announcement yesterday that Hoke has taken the reigns at the Big House, perhaps this can bring the last two years to a close.

The complaining/bitching/pissing/moaning about Hoke’s leaving, Stan’s staying, President Gora’s commitment, Tom Collins’ ability, the funding of the program, etc. can hopefully be put to bed because this decision to hire Hoke for the Wolverines make the events that led to the last two years an inevitability, whether they happened in 2008 or 2011.

  • It’s not all Gora & Collins
    We’re certainly not Gora/Collins apologists on this blog. There are significant things that one could point to as a failure of leadership and a lack of direction in the area of intercollegiate athletics. But as the old adage goes, no matter how thin you slice a piece of cheese, there is always two sides. Unfortunately for Gora and Collins, and fortunately for the fans who want to either cause chaos, live in dramatics, or scream and yell, the side that supports their point of view has quite the megaphone from their bully pulpit at the Kansas City Star and Fox Sports. Jason Whitlock, for all his passion and fervor for BSU athletics, plays a dangerous game with his columns. His goal of holding people accountable through his printed word has tremendous reach. Prospective coaches, prospective athletes, fans, etc. all see his ranting and raving and either dismiss the University as a small-minded program or dismiss his columns as biased one-sided rhetoric. Neither a good option and neither ultimately resulting in lasting and positive change. Being a change agent is all about making things happen and finding actual solutions instead of just pointing out the problem. WebMD can tell you what’s wrong, but I’m going to an actual doctor for treatment.
  • Hoke is not a Saint
    Fans act as if Hoke walked on water and shat frozen yogurt. That simply isn’t the case. I’ll stick to the onfield things because ultimately, I don’t want to ruin his reputation, but this was a coach with basically one great year and one pretty good year. Two Bowls for BSU is fantastic, but let’s not forget his sub-.500 overall record… and that’s with a 12-1 record figured in. As much as I appreciate and respect what Hoke did for the Cardinals, I feel it was far more equal of a deal than a coach out of the goodness of his heart coaching his alma mater because he loves them so much. BSU hired an unproven head coach with no coordinator experience and who struggled his first two years to win games and win the fans. It wasn’t until a perfect storm of a senior dominated team and a weak schedule led to the perfect storm of12-0 that fans were ready to fire the President and AD to retain him.
  • Ultimately Brady Was Looking to Leave
    Perhaps there was nothing the University could have done to keep Hoke in 2008. Perhaps he was gone regardless. Every one of us who supports the Cardinals likes to think of BSU as a great destination for a head coach and a proud football program. But facts are facts, and it isn’t… yet. Could it be? Of course. But there was virtually nothing that BSU offered Brady Hoke that San Diego State didn’t trump. Nice weather, great stadium, Mountain West Conference, powerful alumni, a vested fanbase, and most importantly, significantly more money. And those are just the tangibles. They speak not to his second career head coaching job on a larger stage, in a better conference, with the chance to rebuild them as well. Which he did. To further give him interview talking points when he interviewed for a certain Big 10 head coaching opportunity in Ann Arbor. Which he did. To make himself The Choice when Michigan needed someone to come in and restore their luster. Which he did. Whether he was in Muncie, San Diego, or Minnesota, when this job gets offered, Hoke takes it. Period. End of story. And he should have.

The bottom line is if BSU had ponied up the money to keep Hoke, which they couldn’t have afforded and potentially wouldn’t have made him stay anyway, come 2011 when Michigan came calling he still would have been gone and that’s the piece that most fans won’t realize. Look on the bright side, thanks to Brady bolting for the Aztecs, we got the Parrish years and the post-Brady chaos out of the way earlier than we would have now. At least that’s a small victory, right?

This piece probably seems anti-Brady, but it isn’t. I worry, though, that Michigan isn’t in fact Notre Dame as Brian Cook of MGoBlog likes to point out, but instead is inching closer to BSU in 2008. In a panicked desperate move, the administration at BSU freaked out and hired an in house coordinator to quiet the fans and hopefully maintain the momentum that was building. Michigan did much the same, only the “in house” became “Michigan experience” and the “maintain momentum” became “rebuild the program”. In BSU’s case, the failsafe went 6-18. Let’s hope for UM’s, Brady’s and everyone associated with the Wolverines’ sanity that the performance isn’t also duplicated, lest they become the target of one particular columnist with a national audience, a significantly close connection to the head coach, and a nicely sized ax that could always use some grinding.

BSU Football Has a Coaching Staff

Lembo now has a staff at BSU. Are wins next on the to-do list?

From the BSU release received this evening, it looks like the coaching staff for the 2011 Cardinals is just about complete. There’s still a full-time vacancy listed (for what I presume to be a strength and conditioning coach, though there isn’t a specific linebackers coach mentioned below either but Bateman does have LB position coach experience). We’ll have a breakdown of the assistants and what we like and don’t like tomorrow, but for now, read what BSU has to say about the hires.

Per the release…

MUNCIE, Ind. — Ball State head football coach Pete Lembo has announced the hiring of eight assistant coaches for the 2011 season.

Daryl Dixon and Joey Lynch have been retained from the 2010 Ball State coaching staff, while four members of Lembo’s 2010 staff at Elon — Jay Bateman, Keith Gaither, Rich Skrosky and John Strollo — will join the Cardinals. In addition, Justin Lustig and Chad Wilt will serve as assistant coaches at Ball State. Lembo has one full-time coaching position yet to be filled.

Dixon, who will be in his third season at Ball State in 2011, will coach the defensive backs. A 2003 graduate of Florida where he captained the Gators as a senior, Dixon has tutored Sean Baker to the Ball State career interceptions record as a junior. Baker has 16 career picks, breaking the previous Ball State mark of 14. In addition, junior Jason Pinkston has seven career interceptions in his first two seasons under Dixon’s guidance.

Lynch, who lettered four seasons at quarterback for the Cardinals from 2003-06, will be in his third season as an assistant coach for Ball State in 2011. He will serve as the team’s recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach after spending 2009 as the wide receivers coach and 2010 as the receivers coach and recruiting coordinator. Lynch, a native of Muncie, spent the 2008 season as the offensive coordinator at Ashland and the 2007 campaign as the offensive coordinator at St. Joseph’s (Ind.).

Bateman, who will serve as defensive coordinator at Ball State, spent the 2006-10 seasons as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Elon for Lembo and was promoted to assistant head coach for the 2010 campaign. He also served on Lembo’s staff at Lehigh as the run defense coordinator and defensive line coach during the 2005 campaign. At Elon, he tutored All-American linebacker Chad Nkang, who was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars, marking the first Elon football player drafted by the National Football League since 1992. Under Lembo’s guidance, he helped Elon to 35 victories in five years after arriving at a program that posted a 14-42 mark in the five years prior. Elon’s defense allowed just 248.33 yards per game to lead the Southern Conference and rank fourth nationally in 2009. At Lehigh, Bateman’s run defense ranked sixth in the country in 2005. Bateman spent four seasons as the head coach at Siena from 1999-2003. A 1995 graduate of Randolph-Macon College, Bateman was an all-conference linebacker and team captain. He and his wife, the former Heather Dawson, have one daughter, Bea.

Gaither, who earned his bachelor’s degree from Elon in 1999, was a four your starter and two-time NCAA Division II All-South Region defensive back for the Phoenix. Gaither will coach the wide receivers at Ball State in 2011. He spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons as the wide receivers coach under Lembo at his alma mater. In his first season at Elon, he tutored wide receiver Terrell Hudgins, who became the holder of 19 NCAA, Southern Conference or Elon records and finished second in the voting for the 2009 Walter Payton Award, which is awarded to the Football Championship Subdivision Player of the Year. Prior to Elon, Gaither spent four seasons at Winston-Salem State (2005-08), two years at Tusculum (1998-99) and one year at Greensboro (1997). Gaither spent five years as a teacher and assistant high school football coach after graduating from college. He is married to the former Mona Savonne Davis and the couple has two children.

Skrosky, who will serve as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ball State, was the offensive line coach at Elon from 2006-08 and promoted to offensive coordinator and QBs coach for the 2009 and 2010 seasons. In his first year as the offensive coordinator at Elon in 2009, the Phoenix led the Southern Conference and ranked sixth in the country with 291.50 passing yards per game and ranked among the top 20 nationally in pass efficiency and total offense. Skrosky came to Elon after serving as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach for five seasons at Columbia (2001-05) and eight years at Monmouth (1993-2000). He was the head coach at Ramapo College in 1992 after serving as the school’s offensive coordinator in 1990-91. Skrosky also served stints as a graduate assistant at Rutgers (1988-89) and was a high school coach from 1984-87. A 1987 graduate of Ramapo, Skrosky was a safety for the school. He is married to Suzanne Quentz.

Strollo, who coached the offensive line at Elon the last two seasons and the tight ends in 2008, will coach the offensive line at Ball State. Prior to Elon, Strollo was an assistant coach at Duke (2005-07), Maine (2004), Cornell (2001-03), Lafayette (1996-2000), Massachusetts (1991-95), Northeastern (1984-90) and Washburn (1983). At Duke, he worked with the tight ends for one season before coaching the offensive line in his last two years. Strollo served as the offensive coordinator at Cornell and Northeastern and primarily worked with the offensive line at his other coaching stops. A 1976 graduate of Boston College, Strollo was a football letterman for the Eagles. He and his wife, the former Janet Kowalski, have two daughters — Katie and Emily.

Lustig, who coached the running backs and special teams at Louisiana Lafayette in 2009 and 2010, will serve as the special team’s coordinator and running backs coach for the Cardinals. He spent the 2006-08 seasons as an assistant at Eastern Illinois where he coached the running backs and special teams. The Panthers produced a 1,000-yard rusher in each of his three seasons at EIU. Prior to joining EIU, Lustig coached defensive backs and special teams at Christopher Newport (2004-05) and helped the Captains to a USA South Atlantic Conference Co-Championship and a berth in the NCAA Division III Playoffs. He also spent the 2001 and 2002 seasons at Christopher Newport as the team’s recruiting coordinator and secondary coach. In 2003, Lustig coached cornerbacks at Villanova, which ranked as high as No. 4 in the Football Championship Subdivision Poll. A four-year starter at Bucknell, Lustig was a team captain and played cornerback and safety. A 2001 graduate of Bucknell, Lustig and his wife, the former Beth Ann Christopher, have two sons.

Wilt, a native of Upland, Ind., and a 2000 graduate of Taylor, comes to Ball State after coaching at Richmond (2010), Virginia (2009), Liberty (2006-08), Central Connecticut State (2001-03) and William & Mary (Spring 2001). Wilt, who will coach the defensive line for the Cardinals, served as the defensive line coach and special teams coordinator for former Ball State head coach Paul Schudel at CCSU. Wilt earned a master’s degree at Virginia in 2005 after serving as a graduate assistant for the Cavaliers. A three-time all-conference student-athlete at Taylor, Wilt captained the team as a senior. He was a two-time NAIA All-American defensive end and a two-time academic all-conference selection. Wilt graduated from Eastbrook High School in Marion, Ind., and played at Taylor for his father, Steve Wilt, who was head coach at TU from 1994-2005).

Lynch and Dixon remain from the previous staff, Lembo brings a quartet of Elon assistants with him, and two relative new folks to the chemistry from Louisiana-Lafayette and Richmond. Interesting to say the least. There’s some positives, some negatives, and some significant concerns and unknowns, but that’s for tomorrow. For now, BSU has a new staff and we welcome you all to the sidelines. Now let’s hope the fans and students do the same.