Ball State football coach Pete Lembo has made honoring the Cardinals' tradition a point of emphasis since he took over the program in December of 2010. The third-year coach is keeping that going by bringing in two former Cardinal greats to participate in the team's spring game later this month.
Former Cardinal players Blaine Bishop and Mike Neu will serve as honorary coaches for the game.
“We are thrilled to welcome two of Ball State's legendary players back to campus for the spring game," Lembo said in a release. “In 2011, we were honored to have Coach Paul Schudel and Coach Bill Lynch back on the sidelines. Now, we have two of the great players those head coaches had a chance to influence in a positive way. It is important our current players get to know important alumni like Mike and Blaine, because we want them to be engaged with the football program long after they graduate as well.”
Bishop lettered for the Cardinals from 1990-92 as a defensive back and went on to play 10 years in the National Football League and was a four-time Pro Bowl selection.
He is a member the Ball State Athletics Hall of Fame and captained the Cardinals during his senior season. Bishop finished his collegiate career with an appearance in the annual Blue-Gray All-Star Classic and was 1992 All-Mid-American Conference Second Team choice.
Bishop was selected by the Houston Oilers in the eighth round of the 1993 NFL Draft and The Sporting News named Bishop one of the NFL's Top 100 Players in 1998. While on the Titans' roster, Bishop also played in the 2000 Super Bowl, won by the St. Louis Rams. He retired from the league in 2002 after a single season with the Philadelphia Eagles but maintains his interest in the game through his work as a radio and television co-host and analyst in Nashville.
Neu lettered at quarterback for Ball State from 1990-93 and led the Cardinals to the 1993 MAC Championship and a berth in the Las Vegas Bowl. The 1993 MAC Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year, Neu completed his career as Ball State's all-time leader with 6,221 passing yards and 43 touchdown passes.
He played professionally in the Canadian Football League and Arena Football League, before beginning a coaching career. Neu was the head coach of the AFL's Carolina Cobras and New Orleans VooDoo and was named the AFL Coach of the Year in 2004. He also coached the Arena Football League 2's Augusta Stallions to a conference title in 2000 with a 14-4 record and was named the AF2 Coach of the Year.
Neu spent 2009-11 as a college scout for the New Orleans Saints and was a part of the team's Super Bowl Championship in 2009. This past season, Neu returned to the college ranks as the quarterbacks coach for the Tulane Green Wave.
In addition to the Spring Game, Lembo will also conduct a career development night where six former Ball State football lettermen for different careers will speak to the team.
Prior to the 3 p.m. kickoff for the Spring Game on April 20, Lembo will make a presentation on the state of the program at noon to any former players interested in attending at the Alumni Center.
Admission for the Spring Game is free for all fans.