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So Far in Two Seasons

If you want to find a game that emphasizes the impact Pete Lembo has made at Ball State, Saturday’s win over Central Michigan may be the best example.

Central entered the game with a coach on the hot seat and coming off of an embarrassing home loss to Navy. The Chips were the toast of the conference three years ago, now they struggle in league play.

To fully appreciate Lembo you have to remember what it was like two years ago. To do that just look at Central Michigan today.

As Ball State fans we have seen this before. Central Michigan in 2012 was exactly what Ball State was in 2010, the last year under Stan Parrish.

The result was a game that was never in doubt.

Central had a slight chance to make it interesting to start the second half. Down the 24-10, the Chips fumbled in Cardinal territory. Quarterback Keith Wenning and the offense quickly march down the field for another touchdown making it 31-10.

The rest of the game was pretty much killing clock.

In short, it appeared Central came into the game hoping for the best but expected the worse.

Remember how that felt Ball State fans?

Of course you do. It was like that just two years ago for every game. Even, gulp, against FCS opponents.

Under Pete Lembo it is only like that when the team plays an Oklahoma or a Clemson.

That type of an upgrade is dramatic. The win over Central showed just how much Ball State has improved from Lembo’s first year too.

In 2011, Ball State struggled to gain control with Central in Muncie before finally wrapping it up on this interception from Sean Baker. What was a close match in 2011 was a clinic on how to win on the road in 2012.

Ball State just needs two of its last four to get the seven needed for a likely bowl bid. Thankfully, in two games Ball State should be favored. Army and Miami University are both on the road but on paper Ball State is the better team. Toledo and Ohio will be more difficult.

The Cardinals have a slim chance to win the MAC West, but that is 100 times better than looking for a new coach at this point two years ago.

This is why we love the MAC, a league where teams rise and fall. It makes the MAC interesting compared to other BCS leagues where the same team three schools alternate conference championships.

Enjoy the success while you can. In the MAC nothing lasts forever.

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Pete Lembo… Come on Down

OverThePylon reported Thursday that Pete Lembo would be named the new head coach as early as Friday and today Ball State University confirmed that hire and announced a 10am press conference for Monday morning. Per BSU’s release on Coach Lembo:

Pete Lembo, who has spent the last 10 seasons as a head football coach at Lehigh (2001-05) and Elon (2006-10), has been named the head football coach at Ball State, according to Ball State director of intercollegiate athletics Tom Collins.

“We are extremely excited to have Pete Lembo join the Ball State family,” Collins says. “The search for our next football coach included talking to a number of people in the football world. Coach Lembo’s name and credentials continued to surface as an outstanding candidate for Ball State University. We are looking forward to his contribution to the program and looking forward to getting started in preparation for Ball State football 2011.”

Lembo has compiled a 79-36 overall head coaching record, including a 35-22 mark at Elon the last five years. He led the Football Championship Subdivision program to 35 victories in five years after taking over a program that had won only 30 games the previous seven seasons. Lembo managed a 24-14 career record in the Southern Conference, and his 2010 team averaged 435.2 yards of total offense — the fourth straight year it averaged more than 400 yards a game.

In 2009, Lembo led Elon to the NCAA Division I FCS Playoffs for the first time in the history of the program and coached the team to a 9-3 overall record. The 2009 team’s nine wins tied the school record for the most victories since joining Division I in 1999. In 2008, Elon spent two weeks ranked third in the nation, while the Phoenix’ 7-4 mark in 2007 was the school’s first winning season since 2000. Lembo led the Phoenix to final rankings in the top-25 in three of the last four seasons — 23rd in 2007, 17th in 2008 and ninth in 2009.

“Coach Lembo is an experienced head coach with a strong career record leading winning programs at both Lehigh and Elon,” Ball State President Jo Ann Gora says. “He comes from environments that value both athletic performance and academic success. I believe this is a great hire. We can look forward to a competitive football program with championship ambitions.”

Prior to taking over the Elon program, Lembo enjoyed tremendous success at Lehigh. He led the Mountain Hawks to the 2001 and 2004 Patriot League Championships and berths in the FCS Playoffs. Lembo posted a 44-14 (.759) mark at Lehigh, including 26 wins in league games, and posted the highest winning percentage for a head coach in the history of Lehigh.

In 2005, Lehigh was ranked as high as No. 10 in the FCS Poll and ended the year ranked 22nd. In 2002, the Mountain Hawks were ranked as high as No. 2, and defeated a Football Bowl Subdivision team for the first time since 1987 when they defeated Buffalo, 37-26. In 2001, Lembo won the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year Award and was named the Patriot League Coach of the Year.

Prior to his stint as the head coach at Lehigh, Lembo was an assistant coach at Lehigh from 1998-2000. He was also an assistant at Hampden-Sydney (1997) and Dartmouth (1994-96). Lembo began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Albany (1992-93).

A 1992 graduate of Georgetown, Lembo earned a master’s degree from Albany in 1994. He was a four-year starter in football at center for Georgetown, and served as team captain as a senior in the 1991 season. Lembo is married to the former Jenifer Kochis. They are the parents of Sophia, A.J. and Victoria.

Coach Lembo is also doing the Applebee’s thing on Monday meeting some of the fans and kissing a few babies I imagine. One can only hope that someone sort of gave him a heads up that the last coach wasn’t exceptionally well-liked by a lot of the fanbase and it would serve him immensely well to make a great first impression and endear himself to this fanbase.

Of course there are valid questions like whether or not he can continue the Ohio pipeline that BSU seems to have created, who on the current staff will remain, his systemic thoughts and ideas, and all that jazz. There are months to answer those, and it’s safe to assume that no matter what the answer is to any of those questions there will be a number of folks in the fanbase who won’t be satisfied with the answers regardless of what they are. Let’s hope that the overwhelming majority of fans give Coach Lembo a chance and at least wait until the first loss to blow things out of proportion and assume he’s going to fail.

The opponents and folks not connected to the University will point to Lembo being an exclusive FCS coach as some sort of knock on his resume, but everyone has to start somewhere. The bottom line is after reading about Lembo, reading other folks’ comments about Lembo, and looking past the middle letter in his divisional experience, BSU seems to have gotten the best bang for the buck. People are already pointing to the other names associated with the search as some sort of indictment on Lembo’s hiring and the lack of commitment from the administration, but please, please, please, for the love of all things Holy and good, give the man a chance. Love the hire or hate it, he’s now The Man in terms of BSU football. Welcome Coach Lembo… make us proud. CoachSearch10… officially closed.

BREAKING: Ball State May Have a New Head Coach

Multiple unrelated sources are confirming to OTP that BSU has reached an agreement with the next coach of the football program. Don’t bother bracing yourself… you’ve never heard of him. Pete Lembo will be named head coach in the near future (as early as Friday) by the administration. Is it official? No. Absolutely not. Is it close enough that I feel comfortable running it? I do.

Lembo comes to the Cardinals from Elon, and he also coached for a stint at Lehigh, compiling a career record of 79-36. Elon has finished the season ranked in the Top 25 for FCS twice during his five seasons there. There is no information to share about length of contract or salary for Lembo that may be on the table.

So a potential welcome to Coach Lembo, and we’ll have more info as this develops.

Steve Addazio to Ball State? God, I Hope Not

Imagine my surprise this evening when I logged into the old Twitter account and saw some mentions of Ball State from guys like Tom Dienhart from Rivals/Yahoo and Orson from EverydayShouldBeSaturday. Come to find out, this in fact was not a good thing. Not a good thing at all. In fact, I would say whatever your individual definition of “good thing” is, this little nugget is pretty much the exact opposite. I hope you haven’t eaten lately because if you have, stop reading at this very moment. Want to chance the vomit anyway? Suit yourself…

Fuck. Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck. Fuckity fuck fuck. FUCK.

I know I said I would love to have a BCS level coordinator come into Muncie and turn the MAC on its ass. This is probably the only BCS coordinator that I don’t want. At all. Like… ever. DO NOT WANT.

Addazio was the same offensive coordinator who turned the Mercedes of offenses in Florida to a broken down beat-to-shit Yugo seemingly overnight. Dive right, dive left, swing pass is not a competent playbook and if that 8 pounds of bullshit in a 3 pound bag didn’t work with some of the most blessed athletes in the entire SEC, what the hell would make anyone think that his “playcalling” or “scheme” would do anything but get our asses kicked week in and week out come fall.

I’m not sure what the payment would be for Addazio’s services, but I would imagine it would be somewhere in the neighborhood of around $350,000, which incidentally is roughly $350,000 too much for that steaming pile of monkey shit that would undoubtedly be put out onto the field. I have a better idea and a much more prudent investment. Perhaps BSU AD Tom Collins could take that money, rent a car, and go door to door to every supporter of the Ball State football program, kick them square in the balls, steal the beer from the refrigerator, drop a toilet clogging duece, and roll out laughing at the incompetence of the fans to realize what tremendous amount of bullshit this hire would be. At least then he gives it to us straight rather than this. Because “this”, if “this” is indeed a possibility, is just about the last straw. Get your pitchforks and mob clothes ready, Cardinal fans. If this is indeed true, it’s time to mount up.

Collins Stays Mum on Coaching Search

According to the Muncie Star’s Greg Fallon, BSU Athletic Director Tom Collins has got quite the case of lockjaw when it comes to the current opening for the head football coach. Collins, shielded by University “protocol” regarding personnel decisions, has decided that mum is the word until someone is hired. Let’s take a look at the problems with that approach shall we?

  • Like it or not, this isn’t a marquee job. It stands to reason that if there were even some shielded borderline untrue things you could say to generate some interest in the program and the job that may not be a bad thing. Hiding behind personnel protocol or job privacy laws seems a bit not so good. I’m not suggesting you take out a full page ad in the Daily News or the Star Press to announce your targets because that wouldn’t be prudent and no one would read it anyway, but there’s a nice happy medium between cloak and dagger secrecy and blowing your business out in the wind.
  • The fans are pissed. Like… PISSED. It’s funny how the BSU football cocktail of running the most successful coach in program history mixed with two pretty not great years has created this dangerous territory of fandom. Fans are pissed at the President, they’re pissed at the AD, they’re pissed at former coach Stan Parrish, they’re pissed at Buffalo, they’re pissed at Dan Lefevour, they’re pissed that the lines to take a piss at the Scheu cause you to miss an entire quarter of football. Give us some sort of lifevest in this sea of pissed-off-ed-ness. Otherwise, we may have to redirect that angry mob and their burning items and pitchforks.
  • Hiding behind personnel protocol makes us look small time and bitch-assed. Try and avoid that, mmmkay?

Tom Collins had no comment but did send us this for his response*….

*obviously that is far too creative to be from Collins, himself.

CoachSearch10… Hopefully Better than CoachSearch08

This is the decision of your life, Tom

Suffice to say, this isn’t a breaking news post. The breaking portion of the news about Stan Parrish being terminated as the Ball State head football coach came to me via about a dozen texts from players, friends, and fans on Tuesday as I was driving across central Ohio as I made my way back to southern Indiana for the Thanksgiving holiday. Once here, I’ve had to battle spotty rural internet, a little brother who dominates the one computer in the house, and just taking a step back from life for a few days. Apparently, the monkeys in the machine room of the country internet provider have decided to get to work today and since the little brother and the family are out shopping, I’m finally allowed a brief little moment on the world wide interwebs to finally put some thoughts out about Stan and the future of the program.

I, like many others, apparently, can’t say I’m shocked or floored by the decision by the Ball State administration to terminate Stan Parrish. I think the results on the field, or more specifically, the lack of positive ones, speak volumes to the ability of the current leadership to build on or even sustain the successes of the Hoke years. I don’t think that comes as a large surprise to anyone, as most of the year, I and the rest of the Cardinal realists were far from happy, but also understood the pennies and nickels of the situation. To buy out Parrish’s contract seemed like the financial mountain that was unclimbable. According to AD Tom Collins private donors stepped forward to cut Stan a check and cut the program’s losses before they got unfixable. That, and really only that, is the surprising fact in all of this. In fact, based on my experience with the BSU program, it is quite a shocking turn of events.

BSU fans, for the most part, are known to grumble loudly about the lack of a successful football program but ultimately unwilling to pony up the dollars, efforts, and support needed to make success a reality. The shoestring budget of the program has hindered progress in facilities, coaching hires, coaching retention, and really each and every facet of a program. The fact that Brady Hoke was able to achieve what he did his last few seasons is even more remarkable when tempered with the sheer dollars and cents of the program. Does BSU finally have fans that speak with their wallets and not just their big boy angry voices? Because if so, that would be a remarkable change of pace that could actually serve some good instead of simply severing the fanbase.

I certainly feel for the assistant coaches, who are now on the receiving end of the most unfortunate situation that an assistant coach can go through. Whether some, all, or none will be retained would ultimately be up to the new head coach, but I can’t imagine many (if any) will be wearing cardinal and white come next season as a total demolition of the staff and program will probably happen and is probably what’s needed. My thoughts go out to those who aren’t retained and I wish them luck. I feel also for the juniors, who will now play for their 3rd head coach next season. Unfortunate for them, and I certainly hope that Cardinal Nation supports them and the rest of the team as this transition unfurls and more importantly, throws their support whole heartedly behind the next head coach.

So now, Tom Collins, this is your moment. The hire you make this time around will ultimately define your career at BSU. It’s understandable that the last time you had to fill the head football coach’s role, you were in a bit of a panic. Saving the recruiting class, continuing the successes of 2008, and salvaging some semblance of continuity led to Stan Parrish’s hiring in a very fast search that was ultimately over before it really began. I certainly hope you have learned from that fiasco and more importantly the results that followed it. This is not the time to rush. This is not the time to freak out. This is the time to take time, do your job and pick the absolute best possible hire for this University. You’ve said since the termination that the candidate pool is deep and there will be significant interest in the job. Prove it. We’ve heard that line before, after Hoke went to SDSU and Parrish ultimately drove this program into a ditch, lit it on fire, and then cackled away with his $1.4 million.

Much of the fanbase has painted Collins as a bumbling know-nothing lapdog intent on doing the bidding of President Gora by not paying enough attention and effort to football. A talented hire that puts a team on the field we’re proud of may go a long way in proving that theory incorrect. A retread head coach, a promotion of a current BSU assistant, or a BSU alum with nothing better to do simply proves that the loudest and most vocal of the BSU fanbase were simply right all along. No pressure, though, Tom… it’s only the most important decision you’ll ever make.

So with that, consider CoachSearch10 underway.