Friday, January 9, 2009

Signing off....

After a little less than a year, what I thought would happen has happened.

I am not as motivated as I thought I was to do this.

I made no posts related to the Western Michigan game or Buffalo game besides the Boise State commentary. That was probably a sign I needed to not do this, and it probably wasn't right to prop myself up as a "Ball State blog."

Working two full-time jobs didn't help. Being lazy didn't help either. And in all honesty, I am not that great at the "bloggy" things that are supposed to make sites like this work and generate page views (although we had plenty and plenty of those).

There were plenty of things to blog about this year's Ball State football team and I flat-out ignored them. So with that being said, I have basically decided to shut this bad boy down.

I'll leave the old posts up in case anyone gets bored, but I really don't think anyone's going to miss the site too much. And I apologize if you do.

Alan over at Over The Pylon does a phenomenal job of doing everything that makes a blog so great, so if you aren't already reading his blog (but I surmise most of you do) then consider that you're one stop-shop for all things Ball State football.

I'll be around, whether it's leaving improper comments over at OTP or arguing with Alan on Gmail Chat about the Boise State situation, or doing some things here and there for BallStateInsider.com Or if you're desperate, I am all things Clinton County sports over at The Frankfort Times. No one covers four high schools by themself quite like I do. You can also check me out on my my new entertainment blog Hit Your Demo! which will probably be nothing more than TV and movie reviews, two things I watch a lot of.

If I feel the need, I'll do a post once a year or something (haha) and hope you see it with Google mail alerts.

Take care, Cardinal fans!

PHIL

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Did not see that one coming...



Every time I watch a sporting event and something bad happens to my team, I always say to myself, "I'm flying through the air, this is not good."

It's the line from Talledega Nights when Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) gets into the horrific crash. It's also a line I said to myself roughly 150,000 times last night from the hours of 8 p.m. until 11:30 p.m.

If there's any consolation, it's that the game wasn't as brutally horrifying as the Buffalo one. The Cards got beat by a much better Tulsa team tonight, pure and simple.

I always hate to say my brother was right, but he was on the money about this game.

We had absolutely nothing to play for and he predicted we'd play like it. I disagreed with him — maintaining that we'd like to be ranked in the preseason top 25 next year — but he was right. We played like we had zero interest in being on the field. Maybe we underestimated how much Brady Hoke meant to this team.

That was a tough one to swallow. That Ball State football team we saw on the field tonight against Tulsa looked nothing like the one we saw all season. It looks like we discovered some truths about our squad tonight. Here they are.

1. The MAC is a terrible conference.

0-5 in bowl games, including clunkers by us and Central Michigan. Ball State had not seen a team with that kind of speed and precision on offense. They had speed everywhere and we did not. How bad was the MAC? Maybe we are a bunch of Sun Belt Conference rejects. Sounds brutal to say, but we did not represent at all tonight.

2. We missed Brady Hoke.

I think it's clear who was calling the defense this year. There was absolutely no fire on the defensive side of the ball, but then again, they were on the field an awful lot. Five three-and-outs by the Cardinals in the second half. Brady would've had that defense much more revved up (and the O, t00).

3. Nate Davis will be back next year.

I guess we can take some solace in that. What the heck happened to him the past two games? Eight turnovers and just an abysmal night passing the ball. He was phenomenal in the first 12 games of the year, and followed that up with two huge clunkers. You could make the argument that Nate has had his worst games in the three biggest games of his career: last year against Rutgers, and this year's game with Buffalo and Tulsa.

I apologize to Tulsa fans for insinuating yesterday that Nate was way better than David Johnson. What an offense Tulsa runs.

4. Our offense spent the night relaxing in the Gulf.

As I sat at Fox and Hound with the Ball State fans that hadn't already bailed in the fourth quarter, we talked about how it was inexcusable that MiQuale Lewis wasn't involved in the game. Where was the dominating offensive line and the sick running of Lewis? Tarrion Adams had a HUGE game, rushing for 207 yards and three touchdowns.

Tulsa outgained us 632-223. Yes, re-read those numbers again. Ridiculous. Included in that was 439 rushing yards from the Golden Hurricane. Come on. Davis was 9-of-29 passing.

I know a lot has to do with Brady leaving and what not, but I was surprised our team couldn't get past that. We looked disinterested in both the Buffalo and Tulsa games after playing like gangbusters in the first 12.

I think this and Nate is what befuddles me the most. Tulsa's (and Buffalo's) defenses were lightly-regarded going into those games, and they both lit us up. I don't get it.

5. Mark Smith won't be our defensive coordinator next year.

I consider that a good thing. I can't make any sort of argument that would favor him returning next year. Speaking of our assistants, rumor has it all but three of our coaches are heading to San Diego State University as well. We made outgoing Tulsa offensive coordinator Gus Mahlzahn look like a freakin' genius.

6. We made every single commentator who dissed us all year look really good.

Include in that the likes of Kirk Herbstreit, Craig James and Chris Fowler, who waited as long as possible to rank us in the top 25. Maybe they were onto something. Look at the teams we're ranked ahead and where do we really fall? 40th best team? 50th? Hard to imagine that two weeks ago we were No. 12 in the Bowl Championship Series. Unbelievable.

7. Tulsa set a record tonight for two things: uncalled holding penalties and third-down conversions.

David Johnson owned third down. He made it his bitch. It seemed like every time I looked up, there he was converting a third-down conversion, either with his legs or with a perfect throw. We've all come to expect things like that from Nate, but that was nowhere to be seen tonight.

Good golly, Tulsa's offensive line holds....A LOT. Every time we were about to get to Johnson, a Tulsa offensive lineman would grab cloth out-of-position and let Johnson escape. Look, I know holding penalties occur on every play, but there were a lot that were excessive and should've been flagged.

I'll be back tomorrow with a more positive, glowing review of the season at hand as we try to wipe away the stink of the last two games.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Awfully close to Gametime!


Hello, folks. Just wanted to say one last hello and goodbye before the games starts in two and a half hours. I'll be at Fox & Hound on 82nd St. in Indianapolis watching the game with a group of friends that secured six tables for us, so that'll be plenty. If you happen to be there, feel free to stop by and say hello. I'll have my computer with me, so hopefully, we'll have a running diary so you can go through the ups and downs of the game with me. No one does it better than I do. If they don't have it, i'll post it tomorrow. See ya on the flipside.

Of course, there's always the possibility that I will get too caught up people to keep a running diary, which will most likely happen.

GO CARDINALS!!

Monday, January 5, 2009

TALKING POINTS: GMAC Bowl, Ball State vs. Tulsa

Hello, fans of the furry robin-sized bird. I type to you as I watch the Texas-Ohio State Fiesta Bowl and I'm in shock it's 3-3 in the second quarter. Anyway, let's break down this game Phil Friend-style.

Talking Point #1
Can Tulsa's defense stop Nate Davis?

No. Trick question. Only Nate Davis can stop himself.

Last summer, Davis went on a two-week vacation to the Virgin Islands. It is now just called "The Islands."

Talking Point #2
Tulsa is a 3-point favorite

Boy, the gambling world really soured on Ball State after everything went down. The Cardinals opened as a 2.5 point favorite. I'm not much of a gambler, but I don't think games swing 5.5 points like that. If you like Ball State to win, hopefully you placed your bet as 3-point underdogs rather than 2.5 point favs.

Talking Point #3
Who's got the better QB? BSU's Nate Davis vs. Tulsa's David Johnson. Who's got the better running back? BSU's Miquale Lewis or Tulsa's Tarrion Adams.

For what it's worth, not too many teams had success passing the ball against us, if I recall correctly. It's been so long since a Ball State football game. So something has to give here. Tulsa is 7th nationally in passing yards (310.2). Oh, wait, Tulsa is also 7th nationally running the ball (254.9 per game) and 1st in total offense (565.1). That could present some problems. Ball State sits 22nd in passing offense (266.7), 24th in rushing offense (192.7) and 11th in total offense (459.3). In a completely unbiased opinion, I'm taking Nate Davis and his laser, rocket arm and the little giant MiQuale (no, YourQuale) Lewis.

Talking Point #4
How does Johnson fare against Ball State's opportunistic defense?

Our defense has played bend-but-don't-break all season long, while at the same time causing turnovers at the right time. Johnson does have a propensity to turn over the pigskin, throwing 18 interceptions. I will predict a pick-six (or TAINT, for the Bill Simmons readers) for the Cardinals.

Talking Point #5
Battle of the newly contracted coaches

With Stan Parrish being the new head coach and stuff, the Golden Hurricane coach also got a new contract. Todd Graham got a 10-year contract extension. Not too shabby. I guess that means Steve Kragthorpe isn't coming back, no?

Talking Point #6
The Brady Bunch minus Brady

How much will Ball State miss its fearless leader of the past six seasons, Brady Hoke? I think we might be in for a surprise...and not in a good way. Whether we want to admit it or not, he deserves all the credit in the world for making our football program the front porch of our university, whether we like it or not. Let's hope coach Parrish keeps it there.

Talking Point #7
Does it matter that BSU is the nation's least penalized team?

Probably not. Going into the Buffalo game the Cardinals were in the top five in turnover margin. Look where that got us. But it's fun to say we are the least penalized team. Discipline's got to count for something.

My Prediction for tomorrow:
Tulsa wins.

FALSE

I'm taking the alma mater. Ball State 35, Tulsa 31.

FIGHT TEAM FIGHT FOR BALL STATE.

And if you need some motivation, please just go back and read my soliloquy to the team before the Central Michigan game. Sure, some things need to be taken out. But the idea's the same.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Bird's The Word

At the very least, things have calmed down quite a bit in Cardinal Nation since the disastrous MAC Championship game.

It looks like most of the Cardinal have come to grips with everything that's happened since we lost to freakin' Buffalo. Just a brief reminder: Nate Davis fumbled four times and two were returned for touchdowns as we somehow lost to Buffalo in the MAC title game; coach Brady Hoke bolted for San Diego State and former offensive coordinator Stan Parrish is our new head coach.

Nothing groundbreaking there, but here are my few quick thoughts on it all.

1) Buffalo game: I'm not sure I'm fully over the loss yet. It's amazing that one play (not giving MiQuale Lewis the touchdown when he crossed the goal-line) can change the tide of the game like that. That thing sent us on The Downward Sprial (not trademarked by Nine Inch Nails). Let's hope we can use the disappointment of that game as motivation for the Tulsa game Tuesday.

2) Brady Hoke: I still won't get to this day why our administration (and fan base) was against playing Boise State, but I think turning down the invite is what led Hoke to leave. I personally don't believe it was because of the assistants not getting paid (although that was certainly part of it, just not the main reason). When our administration decided to turn the game down, it became clear to Coach Hoke that he didn't think our administration was serious about making our program a national contender. Like last time, someone is going to argue that "Hoke said it was because of the assistants" and say Hoke has no reason to lie, so the Boise thing surely can't be the reason. Well, in case you forgot he told everyone he didn't talk with Auburn, when, low and behold, he did talk with Auburn.

3) Stan Parrish: Welcome, Stan. He was certainly the logical choice to take over Brady's spot — barring that he didn't go to SDSU with Hoke — and now hopefully there will be less turnover. This is still a team that is primed for a BCS run in 2009 if Nate comes back, so the less change there was, the better. He'll get a true test in his first game as head coach.

I had a talk with my brother this afternoon, and he informed me that he didn't think we had anything to play for in this game. I couldn't disagree more. A victory gives us a springboard into the 2009 season, especially in the polls, where we'd be ranked higher in the preseason. We got all the way to No. 12 without any pollsters looking at us in the beginning of the season. Where can we get to next season?

Look, the last three weeks have been rough for us. But...this is what we wanted. This is what it feels like to be a national power, a team everybody wants to beat. Will this feeling last beyond this season? Time will tell. We'd kill be the Utah of the Midwest, and with the great recruiting classes we've had and the one we have coming up next year, the seeds are certainly in place for that to happen.

Even if Coach Parrish doesn't have an office.

We'll talk a little more shop tomorrow and in the coming weeks or so, get down to breaking down the upcoming year's recruiting class, one of the reasons I created this site. I know that I was absent during long stretches, but I won't make any excuses. I'm just lazy. And for the Buffalo week and beyond, I was a mess along with everyone else at BSUFans, who were practically losing their minds. But as I said, this is what it's like to be a national powerhouse and I hope that doesn't change.

See ya Monday.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

One gigantic missed opportunity for Ball State


I, for one, refuse to toe the company line or drink the juice being spewed from the Ball State athletic department, and unfortunately, Brady Hoke that this game is not in our overall interest, financially or program-wise.

We've said all along that to be the best, we've got to beat the best. All Ball State ever wanted was to be recognized for having a great football program. The opportunity went to new heights when the Humanitarian Bowl reached out to us to try to get a Boise State-Ball State matchup.

Instead, Ball State pussed its way out of this. Plain and simple.

You want drama? You want action? You want national attention between two of the top three non-BCS teams who could go mano-a-mano? It's a dream matchup for both teams, for the nation and for both fan bases (don't listen to Boise State's fans because I'm willing to bet Ian Johnson and company would love a shot at Ball State in a battle of the unbeatens).

Look, I understand WHY Ball State said no. The financial implications would've been astrononical. Keeping everybody in hotels for five days, airplane ride for the team, blah blah blah, I get it. But it terms of the progress of the football program, it's a killer. And isn't that is most important?

Everyone's looking at us like a bunch of pussies who didn't want to strain in a game or come close to blemishing our undefeated record. When Bubba Cunningham was our AD, he said he wanted Ball State to be the front porch of the university.

Now, wouldn't being 13-0 and playing a 12-0 Boise State team in the biggest bowl outside of the BCS (and you could argue, better than the BCS game that will involve Cincinnati) put us in that prime position to do it? Any money lost on it would be well worth it.

Would it be a road game? Yes. Remember Fresno State coach Pat Hill's motto? "Anytime, anyplace, anywhere." This is our first year in the national spotlight. If we wanted to get back there next year and try to get in a BCS game, playing this game and beating Boise in Boise would've done it. In case you forgot, we would have the best player on the field. Now, the media — and everyone outside of our little Ball State nook — look at us as a bunch of cowards, and I am almost inclined to agree.

Shame on you, Tom Collins. This decision falls on you. I'm sorry that a battle of unbeatens in a huge bowl game with all of the national spotlight on us wasn't good enough. A win would've more than made up for the financial loss. Yes, it would've turned out to be a road game. Yes, Boise State somewhat bullied us. But you know what? In the non-BCS world, they've earned it. They are where we want to be. And Ball State missed the biggest opportunity possible to do that.

Let's say Ball U were to have gone in there and beats Boise or it's a close loss. If Nate comes back...where would that have set us up next year? Top 15 preseason if not better, not to mention the Boise game fresh on everyone's minds. We could've ruled the roost in the non-BCS teams. Instead, we're a bunch of pansies who looked like we're too scared to play Boise State.

Don't give me the financial bullshit or the fact that beating another non-BCS team would only hurt our standing. A win puts us in prime BCS position for next year and, oh, a $14 million payday, which would've more than recouped the financial losses from the H-Bowl.

Would our fans not get to see us play? Sure. I can't afford the $600 round trip ticket plus three days in the hotel. But don't we want to set ourselves up for the future? I don't understand why nearly everyone on BSUFans is toeing the university line and wants to play in the Motor City Bowl or (puke) GMAC Bowl against Minnesota, NC State, Rutgers or whoever else.

Instead, we're running scared in the eyes of everyone else.

Do you think Central Michigan would've passed on this game?

I don't think so.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Nate has a police escort


I left out a lot of things I wanted to address about the game in the last post, and I'll get to them in a second, but here was the most interesting part I noticed in re-watching the game last night.

Nate Davis had a police escort.

Now that's superstar treatment. You know when you're a name when you have a policeman following you around.

Of course, I don't know what the circumstances were. I wonder if Nate received a death threat or something of the sort via Facebook or e-mail during the course of the week. Maybe CMU staffers didn't want Davis to get hit with an errand ice ball. Maybe they thought their fans would storm after him on the field. That I don't know. I was unable to find a photo anywhere of this and didn't use my camera to take a photo of it with my DVR. So if anyone has information, let me know.

A few more thoughts.

- Boy, it sure looks like Alex Knipp had that interception. On the one view, it looks like the ball hits the ground. But you can't see his hands. On the front replay, it really looks like he has his hands underneath the ball. There certainly wasn't enough to overturn it. Had Central come back and won that game, Ball State Nation would be throwing a huge hissyfit and rightfully so. The announcers showed their true colors on that without even once considering the possibility it was caught. That play was awfully close and they just dusted it off like it was obvious. Todd Harris and Ray Bentley suck ass.

- I have no clue about those 4th and 1 and 3rd and 1 plays. It does not look like we got them at all, yet somehow we did when they brought the chains out. But we'll take it.

- That last CMU drive was just as nerve-racking on the replay as it was live.