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How Slingbox Saved My NCAA Tournament Experience

*This Post Sponsored by Slingbox*

There was a time when I would faithfully and dutifully take off the Thursday and Friday of the NCAA tournament each and every year. There were times I’d use sick leave and brand it as a “mental health day”, other times I’d just take vacation and revel in the gluttony of wall to wall basketball as somewhere between the pile of wings and frosty cold deliciousness day turned into night and upsets and buzzer beaters left me sated enough to get to bed just to do it all over again the next day.

Like most things in life, though, with evolution comes different priorities and demands and I was forced to make the difficult decision of completing some work projects with my team instead of watching my other team open their tournament play. I expected my first vacation-less tourney Thursday and Friday to be completely squandered. I just KNEW there was going to be something major that I was going to miss. Maybe a 16 would beat a 1. Maybe someone would drop a triple-double on an in-state rival. Maybe something cool would happen that I had no idea could even be a thing. And I was going to miss it all, swimming in a sea of employee performance reviews and paperwork. Enter the Slingbox player.

Slingbox1They say the best things come in small packages and though I am not sure who “they” are nor whether they were specifically talking about the Slingbox M1, but regardless of their intent, the outcome is the same. With this apparatus you are a slave to your set no longer. Have a computer? Have a tablet? Have a smartphone? Then you have access to anything you could watch at home with a Slingbox hooked into your entertainment set up. It really is as simple as that. Hook up your Slingbox to your television, connect it via wifi to your home network (or via ethernet cable if you have a wired option close) and you’re good to go. I sat in my office and watched whichever game I wanted on Thursday. Friday, too. Even changed the channel when the inevitable blowout began. Rather than wonder how I was going to watch the action I only needed to wonder how I was going to keep my boss none the wiser of why I selflessly gave up my Tourney Thursday and Tourney Friday for the betterment of the office. But hey, what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him, right?

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking there’s probably some astronomical monthly fee for this service or it’s a pain in the butt to setup or that it’s going to look hideous within your set up. I respect the last concern because I’m an OCD freak about clean lines and things not looking ridiculous in my home. Feast your eyes on the rack with the Slingbox in place…

Slingbox2

It is basically unnoticeable and smaller than my cable box. As for your other concerns, pay them no mind. It took less than 10 minutes to set up and there isn’t a fee for computer viewing. It’s worth noting that there is a fee ($15) for the mobile app to be able to view on your tablet or smartphone when you download the app, but it’s money well spent in my opinion. The beauty of this technology is that it lets you watch your home television stations on any device anywhere in the world. If you’re a sports fan it is must have technology and it is most definitely OTP recommended. The Slingbox can even schedule and view DVR recordings, it works with every cable company, and the quality is remarkable and up to full 1080p.

The most awesome thing? Slingbox is also running a current sweepstakes promotion called Madness Cubed. The details…

Slingbox is giving away the ultimate cubicle makeover so you can enjoy the NCAA’s March Madness tournament in style. We’ll come to your office and deliver a truly comfortable chair, your own Slingbox 500, and an epic party meal for you and your office mates. So enter today for a chance to win. PLUS 68 runners-up will win a Slingbox M1 to set themselves up for the big dance. Unbelievable!

How do you do that? By visiting the links above or clicking here. From that link you can also learn more about Slingbox and purchase one for yourself. It truly is amazing technology that in one cleanly designed package renders things like geographic constraint, travel, local blackouts, and competing schedules completely void. And that, sports fans, is a remarkably good thing.

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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.

 

 

Mark Your Calendars, BSU has Fall Game Times

IBSULogo know it’s summer, you are focused solely on the temperature of the beer in your fridge and the water in your pool, but lend me your ears, BSU football fans. Game times and television information has been released for the fall. The Cardinal sports calendar may be without event until an August 16th soccer game against IUPUI but we now have something to obsess over. So fire up, boys and girls.

Per the BSU release…

Ball State, in conjunction with the Mid-American Conference and the ESPN Family of Networks, has announced game times for a portion of the 2014 football season.

The Cardinals will open the 2014 campaign Sat., Aug. 30, with a 2 p.m. home game vs. Colgate. Ball State will play at Iowa Sept. 6, at a time still to be announced, and then host Indiana State on Family Weekend Sat., Sept. 13, at 3 p.m. In addition, the Cardinals’ Homecoming Game vs. Western Michigan Sat., Oct. 11, will be played at 3 p.m. in Scheumann Stadium.

Ball State’s games vs. Colgate and Indiana State are slated to air on ESPN3, while other game times and television partners will be announced throughout the season approximately 12 days prior to each game.

At the Indiana State game, Ball State will honor the 1964 team and celebrate the squad’s 50-year anniversary. At the Homecoming Game vs. Western Michigan, the university will honor the 1989 team and celebrate its 25th anniversary of winning the MAC Championship and competing in the 1989 California Raisin Bowl.

Ball State’s game at Army Oct. 4 is slated for a noon start and will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.

As a part of the MAC’s midweek television package in November, the Cardinals will host Northern Illinois Wed., Nov. 5, at 8 p.m., and play at Massachusetts Wed., Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. Both of those games are expected to air on either ESPN2 or ESPNU.

Ball State finished the 2013 season with a 10-3 overall record and competed in the GoDaddy Bowl, under the direction of head coach Pete Lembo. It marked only the third 10-win campaign in school history and only the second time the Cardinals have ever played in bowl games in back-to-back seasons.

So mark your calendars, set your Tivo’s, get your excuses ready to call into work or church the next day and ready yourself for another falltastic BSU football season.

Statistic breakdown: rushing versus passing

With the offseason upon us it is time to break out the statistics and find something worthless, I mean of great importance. I believe numbers never lie except when used to support an argument.

However, a few stats involving Ball State’s offense appear to have some substance. Specifically when looking at Ball State’s passing and rushing yards gained in each MAC contest in 2012. Let’s give it a whirl. Offense stat sheet

Quarterback Keith Wenning and the passing game obviously ripped it up in 2012 as the Cardinals had at least 200 yards passing in every MAC game Wenning started. The Miami game featured Kelly Page as Wenning was injured.

Also noticeable are the two games where Wenning threw for over 400 yards. Those were the only two MAC losses on the season.

Looking at the running game led by Jahwan Edwards, Horactio Banks, Barrington Scott and an experienced offensive line, the best performances came against Ohio and Eastern Michigan. Those two wins were the most dominant victories the Cardinals had in conference play.

On the other side the two worst rushing performances came against Northern Illinois and Kent State, the two MAC defeats. Two close wins against Western Michigan and Toledo featured a modest rushing attack of 168 and 166 yards respectfully.

From these stats one could say if Ball State rushes for less than 150 yards it is going to be a rough day. Between 150 and 200 rushing yards and it will be a tight contest. Over 200 rushing yards and Ball State is sitting pretty. That might be a stretch to assume this but it was the case in 2012. There was a direct correlation between the rushing yards gained and the outcome of every MAC contest.

It is fine to admit it. How many of you wish you had legs like Jahwan Edwards?

It is fine to admit it. How many of you wish you had legs like Jahwan Edwards?

The bowl game against Central Florida was another example in the ugliest form possible. The Cardinals managed only 71 yards on the ground leading to the worst outing of the year.
The stats simply prove that if Ball State struggles to run the team will struggle too. Keith Wenning could play like Nate Davis in the passing game but the running game is still a must for the Cards to grab a MAC title.

That is a disturbing thought with the bulk of the offensive line graduating this year. It is easy to assume the running game will take a step back in 2013 but that does not mean that will be the case. The three rushers mentioned above will all return and should be bigger, stronger, and faster with a great offseason.

The other assumption one could make is teams with physical defensive lines are the worst teams Ball State could face. Central Florida, Kent State, and Northern Illinois all had that in common. As a result they all shut the Ball State rushing attack down.

What we can assume is this will be the biggest question heading into the spring game and probably the season opener against Illinois State. Which, given the state of our men’s basketball team, cannot come soon enough.

Happy Holidays from OTP

It’s Christmas morning, so you should have already opened presents, had a nice little brunch, maybe had a mimosa or three, and now it’s time to steal away from the family a bit and surf the web. Whatever may have brought you here, we hope that the holiday season treats you and yours to many delightful blessings and returns. Though Santa left a lump of coal in the Cards’ stocking in St. Pete, we are only 8 months or so away from what could be a special season for the Cardinals in 2013. Plus, look on the bright side! The Mayans were totally wrong about that whole world ending thing. IN YOUR FACE, EXTINCT SOCIETY!

Merry Christmas from OTP and most importantly, from Santa Lembo!

Pete Lembo Santa

UPDATED: Running Back Roulette, Cards Look for Stability

Jahwan Edwards up the middle in spring practice. How much do you want to bet he will get at least three yards?

We just passed the one year anniversary of running back Eric Williams transferring from Ball State which leads me to the issue of how it impacted the running game in 2011.

This is a topic many fans probably do not want to revisit but I have a bias with Williams. My sophomore year Williams moved into my dorm and lived two rooms down the hall. During the disastrous Stan Parrish era, the guys on our hall still went to Ball State games largely because we wanted to support Williams.

Coming from the football factory of Indianapolis in Warren Central High School, Williams expected to win at Ball State too. We all know that did not happen. The fact he left may hinder Ball State from recruiting future Warren players.

When Williams transferred before the 2011 season it did not appear many fans had much respect for him. Comments on articles I read were harsh and accused Williams of being a diva. In Lembo’s short tenure in Muncie it has to be the No. 1 head scratcher. OTP got a hold of Williams after he transferred and you can find his side of the story here.

Williams and I communicated over Facebook and I told him I wanted to write a post about the running backs.

“Lembo’s and Parrish’s offenses are completely different,” Williams said.  “Lembo is more of a pass now run later where Parrish was the complete opposite.”

The difference in play calling was not only problem Williams had with Lembo.

“I just didn’t feel he understood that some players have problems outside of school and football. Maybe it was the pressure of getting the team on the correct path but I felt disrespected daily from him and various coaches so I left before a serious issue became present.”

It is all history now as Williams has given up D-1 football to focus on other endeavors.

With his departure the Ball State running back corps went through a major overhaul in 2011. MiQuale Lewis had finally exhausted his eligibility after what feels like a decade at Ball State. Cory Sykes and David Brown also exited after an injury plague careers.

The top four rushing leaders in 2010 were gone in 2011. Adversity like that should cripple a team. Yet Ball State made it through with a two win improvement.

Below are the numbers for the top four rushers in 2010 and 2011.

2010 Player GP  Car net yards avg per car TDs Long Avg game
WILLIAMS, Eric 11 127 613 4.8 5 42 55.7
LEWIS, MiQuale 11 118 414 3.5 1 26 37.6
BROWN, David 12 62 348 5.6 1 80 29
SYKES, Cory 8 46 260 5.7 2 37 32.5
2011 Player GP  Car net yards avg per car TDs Long Avg game
EDWARDS, Jahwan 12 178 786 4.4 11 28 65.5
SCOTT, B. 9 89 370 4.2 1 22 41.1
DONIGAN, D. 11 58 191 3.3 2 20 17.4
WENNING, Keith 12 57 182 3.2 3 20 15.2

The first thing I noticed is quarterback Keith Wenning is the fourth best rusher on the 2011 team. If you think that is concerning wait until you hear punter Scott Kovanda is the fifth best rusher. Now that’s comedy.

The 2011 Cardinals did have a saving grace in Jahwan Edwards. The 2010 team had few rushing touchdowns as none of the four are exactly a power back for goal line situations. Edwards is guaranteed three yards every time he touched the ball and that type of consistency can go a long way. Barrington Scott was hurt for a portion of the season hindering his numbers.

The 2011 team did not have any big play potential in their backfield. The longest rush of the season came on a fake punt from Kovanda. No offense to Kovanda but that is offensive to the running backs.

Edwards was given 51 more carries than Williams and only yielded 165 more yards. Williams had the potential to break through the defense for a big play. Edwards did a great job in 2011, but Ball State was asking a lot out of the freshman to counter a lack a depth.

These fans at the bottom were all cheers when Eric Williams scored a touchdown against Eastern Michigan in 2010.

There is no way to tell if Ball State would have won more games if Williams played for the Cards in 2011. But we do know Ball State would have had a big play threat it badly lacked if Williams suited up.

Williams also average 18 yards per catch in 2010 and would have been one heck of a safety valve for Wenning in 2011.

Ball State won more games in 2011 but that had more to do with the development of Wenning.

When Williams touched the ball I had the feeling he could score. Edwards has become the star of the 2011 recruiting class in one short year but does not have that same ability.

Williams could have made an impact at the Northern Illinois loss. Maybe Ball State could have killed the clock better when it had the lead at Northern with Williams. This is all speculation but it is something to think about.

Going forward Ball State needs a guy who can rip a 40-yard run every so often. Maybe Edwards, Scott or transfer Toney Williams can become that type of back but it is hard to tell right now.  It does not matter who, just as long someone breaks through. If the Cardinals want to take the next step from a 6-6 team to an 8-4 team improving the rushing numbers is a must. Most MAC teams can pass the ball so having a ground game will separate the men from the boys.

“I think the backs there have great potential,” Williams said. “If the scheme of the offense fits them I’m sure they will have success.”

All I know for sure is Ball State was better with Williams than it is without him. Hopefully the critics who berated him after he transferred will realize that. There were plenty of casualties of the Stan Parrish era and Ball State fans would be smart not to add to that list.

After this column was posted Monday Williams contacted me again. Here is what he wants to say as a “farewell address.” He told me he wanted this as a way of closure.

 

Dear BSU fans and whomever else this may concern,

I would like to apologize for the way I left the program last year and in your eyes it may not have been professional but I was a 20-year-old kid lost in distractions off the field that interfered with me on the field. To me football was an outlet away to get away from real life and the confrontation I dealt with made me not love the sport they way I once had.

I have the upmost respect for Coach Lembo and his staff for the record they posted last year and I feel that if I would stayed I would not have done anything but argue and be a distraction to the development of my teammates/ brothers. Do I regret leaving Ball State? Yes, some days I do but taking a year off helped me get my distractions under raps. I have the best g.p.a. I’ve ever had this past year and I’ve been training my behind off with my new teammates at the University of Saint Francis.

I’m helping raise my beautiful 2-year-old son and I still talk to my BSU brothers and support them no matter what. Thank you all for previous support and if you still hate me and feel I was undeserving I understand not many people know my life’s story and I don’t try to lean on my past as a crutch so I say my final goodbyes to you and wish everyone the best.

Farewell, Eric Williams

Cardinals Add Defensive Transfers for 2012

Holy large, Brandon Newman! Enjoy that, opposing MAC QBs

Leave it to Pete Lembo to break the mold of Ball State football. In recent years, the Cardinals were quiet until fall camp opened, but between last year and this year, Coach Lembo has made sure that BSU football has stayed on the forefront of the college football world, or at least as much as a MAC school can.

Lembo announced on Wednesday that the roster of BSU was expanding by two, as the Cardinals have picked up two transfers, both on the defensive side of the ball and in critical positions, and both with significant playing experience at programs that are just a smidge higher in prestige than BSU.

Per the BSU release…

Ball State head football coach Pete Lembo has announced that Brandon Newman and Jarrett Swaby have signed grant-in-aid papers and will be joining the Cardinals football program. They are each college graduates who will attend graduate school at Ball State and be eligible to compete immediately in 2012.

Newman, a 6-0, 303 lb., defensive lineman completed his undergraduate career at Notre Dame, while Swaby, a 6-1, 191 lb., safety, played three years at Central Florida.

“We are very pleased to welcome Brandon and Jarrett to the Ball State community and the football program,” Lembo says. “Both of these young men were strong students, good citizens and contributors on the field at their previous institutions. We hope they can both achieve their athletic goals at Ball State while pursuing a master’s degree in their chosen fields of study. With the arrival of these two veteran players, we anticipate seeing some additional competition for playing time on the defensive side of the ball during preseason camp.”

Newman played four seasons at Notre Dame after graduating from Pleasure Ridge Park High School in Louisville, Ky. He was one of 11 players from Kentucky named to the 2007 All-Southern Team by the Orlando Sentinel plus was chosen to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, after his senior season. An all-state selection as a senior, Newman earned second team honors as a junior. He was ranked as the second best player in Kentucky by Rivals.com and the 22nd best defensive tackle in the nation while at Pleasure Ridge Park H.S. Newman totaled 126 tackles in his high school career, including 31.5 tackles for loss. A four-year letterwinner in football and track in high school, Newman was a three-time captain of the football team. He appeared in two games while at Notre Dame.

Swaby, who appeared in 11 games for UCF in 2011, redshirted for the Knights in 2009 and did not see action in 2010. He managed 12 tackles for UCF last fall. A graduate of Glades Day School in Florida, Swaby recorded 77 tackles, nine pass breakups, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries as a high school senior. He also added 133 yards rushing, 79 yards receiving and three touchdowns while playing running back on offense. Swaby helped Glades Day to the 2006 Florida Class A State Championship and earned all-area and all-state honors that season. Swaby also competed in track in high school and qualified for the state meet in the 400-meters as a senior.

Ball State will open the 2012 football season Thurs., Aug. 30, in a home game at Scheumann Stadium against Mid-American Conference opponent Eastern Michigan.

Anytime the Cards can add to the roster with not only able-bodied needed positions, but also players with impressive pedigrees and a different perspective to help the younger players adjust to college life.

For Newman, there’s an addition of girth and size on the defensive line, which many (myself included) would say is one of the most imperative position groups to shore up if the Cards hope 2012 is a successful campaign. His background of captain roles should mean there’s an increase of leadership, and it’s clear that with Army All-American honors out of high school, the young man can play. The naysayers will point to his lack of success at Notre Dame, but to be fair, playing at Notre Dame is essentially like playing for the Miami Heat. Even their bench players are phenomenal, and not seeing a great amount of field time at Notre Dame isn’t in and of itself a huge reason to be worried.

Swaby comes to BSU from Central Florida and if his track success is any indicator should bring a bit more speed to the Cardinals secondary. Adding another Florida born player is an added benefit as well. Oh, and the fact that he happens to play safety, yet another position that the Cardinals have some significant question marks heading into 2012 is a nice little cherry on this transfer sundae.

All in all, a pretty impressive random Wednesday bit of news for the Cardinals. August 30th can’t get here soon enough, for a whole host of reasons. Will the fans support this team? How will BSU fare in their conference opener? What sort of offensive progression are we going to see in Lembo 2.0? There’s loads of questions for this year, but with these two transfers at least the defensively focused quandaries have been mitigated a bit.

BSU Footballers Doing Dill Street-y Things

Dill Street is no Double Duece

Remember the old adage that we seem to espouse here frequently that news in the offseason is rarely good? Yeah, it proved itself yet again as Travis Freeman and Kenny Lee were involved in an incident leading to the arrest of them both this past weekend at Dill Street Bar and Grill. BSU students are known for going to Dill Street and chaos ensuing, so I can’t say it’s a shock or really all that big of a deal. BSU students go to Dill Street for one of three reasons…

  1. To get ridiculously blasted on cheap beer or liquor
  2. To find a member of the opposite sex and proceed to follow the Malcolm X philosophy of “By any means necessary” to enjoy their company for the evening (TRANSLATION: Find a member of the other gender and get to bangin’)
  3. Cause chaos

I can only hope that since Freeman and Lee seem to be partaking in bullet #3 above they at least got to enjoy #1 before they were arrested. For their sake, I hope #2 either didn’t happen or came to fruition before they were put in cuffs, because the bangin’ at the Delaware County Jail is neither a member of the opposite sex nor enjoyable in the least. Lembo has a nice no-comment kind of comment in the papers pledging to fully investigate and blah blah blah. The specifics of the case are murky at best, and their lack of respectable behavior is really nothing when compared to their poor taste in drinking establishments. That’s what really needs to be punished. Dill Street has been a shithole for as long as I’ve been connected to BSU and I cannot imagine it has gotten any better.

The crime itself is a class B misdemeanor which I can’t imagine is going to not get knocked down or plead out, but battery it stands as for now. Perspective: It was out of season, it seems like their was collective male groupthink fueled by booze, and some fisticuffs broke out. In the grand scheme of things, not a big deal. It wasn’t like this was BCS level skullduggery where players are firing off uzis in a fast food parking lot or running a remarkably sizable drug ring right there on campus. For this kind of stuff, I’m happy BSU is more small time than BCS champion.

UPDATE: The Star Press also has some info on the story here.

Ball State Safeties Play in All-Star Games

I need no thumb to feast on souls

The “Safety U” nickname I gave Ball State in my previous post is gaining more and more steam.

Ball State safeties Sean Baker and Joshua Howard have or will soon participate in a college all-star game.

Baker played Monday in the Casino Del Sol All-Star Game in Arizona. According to Doug Zaleski of the Muncie Start Press he recorded a tackle as a backup.

Baker was also healthy for the game which is a good sign for his draft status. Ball State fans are used to seeing a cast on No. 25 so his performance Monday should put to rest some of those health concerns among NFL scouts.

Howard will play in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl out in California this Saturday. According to the game’s website the all-star team Howard is on will be coached by NFL great Dick Vermeil.

After Saturday’s game Howard can say he has been coached by Brady Hoke, and Dick Vermeil. Not many can say that. Although many are probably glad they were not coached by Stan Parrish for two years so you take the good with the bad I suppose.

I have not made contact with Howard yet but if he shares any moments from his all-star experience I will post them here at OTP. Go “Safety U” go.

Ball State Announces Roster Additions, Sources Confirm Subtractions

New addition and New Edition are not the same thing

As we reference most every offseason, the news coming out of the Cardinals’ nest after the last game of the year slows to a snail’s pace. One of the unfortunate things of covering a smaller market team is that there is not the rabid following like the Alabamas and LSUs of the world to fawn over each and every little trickle of information. At those schools, someone’s twitter posting can set the fanbase in a tizzy, whereas in Cardinal land, it’s usually a player leaving, a player getting added, or a major rules violation that moves the needle at all in the long cold winter known as the offseason. Today, there’s a lot of column A, a little of column B, and thankfully none of column C. Yet.

Coach Lembo has certainly made use of the post-season transfers, as we saw this past season with the stable of running backs that seemingly came out of nowhere to carry the load left by the void of Eric Williams and Cory Sykes. So when it comes to roster additions outside the normal scope of recruiting and such, I certainly trust the talent evaluations being done in Muncie these days. The 2011 season is just a week or so in the books, but we already have our first bit of news about new faces for next fall. From the BSU release…

Pete Lembo has announced the addition of three mid-year signees plus the return of one student-athlete for the 2012 roster.

Joining the program at mid-year are Selwyn Frazier (Independence Community College), Oga Igbinosun (Rahway High School) and Chris Pauling (T.W. Andrews High School), while Matthew Mosley returns to the Cardinals after sitting out the 2011 season to concentrate on academics.

“We are pleased to welcome these new student-athletes to the university for the spring semester, while also glad to have Matthew Mosley return to the program,” Lembo says. “Selwyn, Oga and Chris are quality young men who are excited to be at Ball State. They have a great opportunity to acclimate themselves academically, athletically and socially this spring. They will also help to create greater internal competition on our defense at positions where we need to improve. Matthew is a quality young man who loves Ball State and is passionate about the game of football. He did a nice job staying connected during his hiatus from the program. We are hopeful he returns as a more focused and mature student.”

Frazier earned two letters while playing for Independence Community College in 2010 and 2011. A graduate of Wichita East High School in Wichita, Kansas, Frazier is expected to play safety for the Cardinals. As a team captain in his second year at ICC, Frazier ranked second on the team with 63 tackles. He earned All-Jayhawk Conference honors in his second season, while helping the team to its first ever playoff appearance in his first campaign. At Wichita East, Frazier was a team captain as a senior and earned all-conference honors in his final season. He helped Wichita East to a 5-5 mark in his senior season and earned four letters for Coach Brian Byers.

Igbinosun earned three letters at Rahway High School in New Jersey for Coach Gary Mobley. He helped his team to a 6-5 mark as a senior and a 24-10 record in his career. Igbinosun, who graduated from Rahway in December, is expected to play defensive end for the Cardinals. At Rahway, Igbinosun managed 98 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 12 sacks as a senior. He set a school record with six tackles for loss, including four sacks as a senior. Igbinosun managed 18 career sacks. He was selected to the New Jersey North-South All-Star Game and was named the New Jersey Game Most Valuable Player. A second-team all-state selection as a senior, Igbinosun earned all-area first team honors and was a Super 100 New Jersey selection in his final season. In addition, he was named the Mid-State 39 Defensive Player of the Year in his final season. Igbinosun, the son of Solomon and Mercy Igbinosun, also competed in wrestling, track and basketball at Rahway.

Pauling, a December graduate of T.W. Andrews High School in North Carolina, has joined the Cardinals and is expected to play safety at Ball State. Pauling earned three letters for Coach Rodney McKoy at Andrews and heoped the Red Raiders to an 8-3 mark as a senior and a 32-12 record in his career. Pauling managed 86 tackles, two forced fumbles and one blocked punt, which he returned for a touchdown in his senior season. He totalled 260 tackles, eight forced fumbles, three blocked punts, 20 sacks and two interceptions in his career. Pauling was an All-PAC 6 Conference selection as a junior and senior. He was named all-area and selected to play in the South Carolina/North Carolina Shrine Bowl as a senior. The son of Chris and Rosalyn Pauling, he managed a 3.1 grade-point average in high school and was a three-time selection to the Academic All-PAC 6 Conference team.

Mosley played in all 12 games as a true freshman during the 2010 season and earned his first letter. He recorded his first career tackle vs. Southeast Missouri State and tallied a career high two tackles in six games. A graduate of Morgan Park High School in Chicago, Ill., Mosley played outside linebacker for the Cardinals.

These sorts of additions are absolutely critical for several reasons, first and foremost because of the added depth it provides to some very critical positions for the Cardinals. Two safetys and a DE to go along with the returning LB Matthew Mosley means that one of the areas of consternation for 2011 and outright concern for 2012 has at bare minimum more warm bodies to fill in for the nicks and scratches that arise over the course of a season. As we saw on the field, heard in the coach’s comments, and read in the various program communications, there is perhaps no more critical an area of improvement for the Cards than depth. I would say it’s safe to say it’s not where Coach Lembo would prefer it to be, but it’s better than last year and seemingly getting better by the day. Perhaps the thing that will be overlooked but in my opinion is quite impressive is the geographic location of the new additions. Kansas, New Jersey, and North Carolina all get added to the roster footprint, and in case you haven’t been paying attention, BSU has never had a real national base from which to recruit. Each and every state that gets added to the roster gives a better recruiting advantage for players from that particular region and ideally means the Cardinals can branch out a bit from their pre-established stomping grounds of Indiana, Ohio, and the general rust belt area.

It isn’t all sunshine and roses, though, as mentioned above, that pesky column B means there’s some subtraction to go along with the additions. Multiple independent sources have confirmed to OTP that sophomore Aaron Morris did not return to Ball State for the spring semester because of academic issues. Whether that is a permanent outcome or a short-term time away to correct some areas of need a la Matthew Mosley is unclear, but OTP wishes Aaron all the best as he gets his academic house in order. Morris was a stalwart in the linebacking crew who had a bright future, a nose for the ball, and an ability to make the critical tackle but without the “student” piece of the student-athlete, the “athlete” portion becomes moot. Here’s hoping that this is more roadblock than derailment and we see Aaron back in Cardinal and White soon.

Go Cards!