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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.

How Keith Wenning Actually Compares to Nate Davis

Warning! You may be looking at the best quarteback in Ball State history. You may also just be looking at a quarterback simply holding his mouthpiece before a snap but who are we to judge.

A year and a half ago, I was stuck in the same music history class (many hours I will never get back in my life) with Ball State defensive end Robert Eddins. Eddins would later sign with the Buffalo Bills. I was the only one in class who recognized him, which is shocking as he stood out like a sore thumb in the room full of tiny underclassmen.

Ball State had just lost to FCS Liberty at home and had a quarterback controversy between Keith Wenning and Kelly Page. I asked Eddins during a break who he thought would start the next game at Purdue.

He said Wenning, but what he said next made my jaw drop.

“I think he’ll be just as good as Nate Davis,” Eddins said.

Those were some strong words coming off the loss to Liberty, possibly the low point of the Stan Parrish era (also known as the 7th ring of football heck).

After the 2011 season we finally have enough statistics on Wenning to make a comparison.

I only examined the sophomore seasons of the two quarterbacks as it would be unfair to compare Davis’s junior season when Wenning only has two years under his belt. Davis threw more touchdown passes and more yards his sophomore year than his junior season but did have a higher completion percentage in 2008.

In 2007, Davis led the Cardinals to a 7-5 record and an appearance at the International Bowl against Rutgers. Most Cardinals fans erased that game from their memory as Ray Rice took a bazooka to the Ball State defense for 280 yards and four touchdowns. The 2007 season is also the year Ball State narrowly loss to Nebraska 41-40 in part to wide receiver Dante Love dropping a game-winning touchdown pass.

With the history lesson out of the way time to look at the numbers.

We can assume that Nate Davis is better but you know what happens when you assume.

  • Wenning in 2011: 2,786 yards, 287 completions, 449 attempts, 63.9 percent completion rate, 19 Touchdown, 11 interceptions
  • Davis in 2007: 3,667 yards, 270 completions, 479 attempts, 56.4 percent completion rate, 30 Touchdowns, 6 interceptions

First observation has to be the yards Davis threw. Almost 900 more yards on 17 less completions. Davis was throwing downfield significantly more than Wenning. That is the difference between Dante Love and Briggs Orsbon as the No. 1 wide receiver.

It is not a dig at Orsbon as Love is arguably the most explosive player in Ball State history. He was healthy for the entire season. Once Love was lost for the year in 2008, Davis was more conservative in his throws. That is why Davis threw for less yards his junior year.

The 30-19 edge in touchdowns also can be attributed to a more aggressive passing offense with Love on the field.

Wenning did not have a deep threat at wide receiver like Davis had in 2007. The Cardinals could not stretch the field playing into the hands of opposing defenses.

Ball State also had some running back by the name of MiQuale Lewis in 2007 bringing balance to the offense. You may have heard of his name a time or two.

Davis had a superior supporting cast and his numbers demonstrate that. Yet Wenning did an amazing job in achieving a higher completion percentage.

Just imagine what it would have looked like if Dante Love was catching passes from Wenning. With a deep threat Wenning’s numbers will increase.

The concern for Wenning is the interception numbers. He averaged almost a pick a game. Yikes! Playing Oklahoma inflated that stat a bit, but the turnovers have to come down next year for Ball State to improve.

Looking back it is truly amazing how Davis was able to throw 30 touchdown passes and only six interceptions in a season. How did he not succeed in the NFL again?

Bottom line, if a deep threat emerges at wide receiver to help out Wenning the next two seasons he can only progress (Willie Snead? Jack Tomlinson? Jamill Smith? Reggie Wayne? Wait… what?).

I honestly thought Eddins was a bit crazy for thinking Wenning would be better than Davis after a loss to an FCS school at home. He played with both of them so he knows more than the rest of us.

After the 2011 season though his prediction is still plausible. Wenning needs help from his teammates if he is going to do it, but two years from now we could view Wenning as the best quarterback in Ball State history.

You Be the Judge: Tim Tebow

Edge and I have battled over our Podcast about Tim Tebow. Talk of college football? Of course. Talented athlete? Without doubt. Pushing his beliefs on all of us college football fans? That’s what’s up for debate, and now Edge and I bring it to you the readers.

Pro-life Super Bowl ads, Bible verses on the eye black, ending his interviews with God Bless, and all that certainly open him up for some questions. Edge thinks he’s overbearing. Alan thinks he’s refreshing. And now we bring our case to you, OTP-ites. Read the closing arguments, vote in the poll. Consider it like when Mark May and Lou Holtz make their case to Reece Davis. (You all would be Reece… no one has a lisp…. so it isn’t an exact match, but come on…)

Edge’s Closing Argument
My closing argument on our Tebow discussion boils down to one word: overbearing.  I understand the guy has his morals and his beliefs, but when we sit down to watch a football game (emphasis: football), I find it very annoying to have to watch hours of pre-game stories about how Tim Tebow is above all others because of missionary work, dickskin cutting, blah blah.

Tebow borderline shoves all his super Christian persona down all of our throats, and we’re saying this isn’t overbearing?  I’m no religious nut, but on the other hand I’m not an ignorant agnostic. But there’s a time and place for personal beliefs, and Tebow seems to want to pick the time and place where there are the most cameras and microphones.

Add to all this the Super Bowl ad controversy, and it becomes apparent that we have now passed the era of “Quarterback Tebow” and entered the age of “Bill Donohue Tebow”.  Now that CBS is allowing one side of a scorching hot debate to air an advertisement during the Super Bowl, there is no way they can deny the other.  Lawd ha’ mercy.

I’m telling you now, the new Holy War is upon us!  This is the end of days! Armageddon (no, not the movie)!  And at the center of it all? Tim Tebow.  Thanks a lot, dude.

Alan’s Closing Argument
Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll be brief. The issue here is not whether Tim Tebow loves him some Jesus or cut off some dickskins- he did. But you can’t hold one individual player responsible for the behavior of a few obsessed and overbearing television media types. For if you do then shouldn’t we hold the entire television industry responsible? And if the whole television industry is guilty then isn’t this an indictment of our American communications system in general? I put it to you, Edge- isn’t this an indictment of our entire American society? Well you can do whatever you want to Tim Tebow, Edge, but I won’t sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.

Readers… what say you? Vote in the poll below, comment in the comment section for an indepth explanation. Go.