Pete Lembo has been surprising people since he arrived in Muncie. And just a week shy of his three-year anniversary on the Ball State campus, what transpired over the past few days with the Cardinal football coach has continued to catch many off guard.
It appears that Lembo just might remain in Muncie, after all, and that, in and of itself, is shocking.
When the head coaching opportunities at Wake Forest and UConn opened up, just about everyone that follows the sport felt Lembo was a great fit for the latter and a unfathomable fit for the former. But as the media and fans have learned through these coaching searches, never believe anything you are told – regardless of who tells you – and though we often are; we should never be stunned by anything.
With the hiring of Bowling Green football coach Dave Clawson at Wake Forest, coupled with UConn announcing the hiring of Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco earlier today, those two most likely opportunities for Lembo to take his impressive resume have vanished. For this season.
The Cardinal fans perhaps can stop checking Flightaware.com and breath easier for at least another 11 months. However, from hence forth, they'll certainly face an inner paradox knowing that with each satisfying victory, it will inch Lembo closer to exiting this program and community.
Based on the ever-growing number of web sites devoted to coaching searches, as well as the amount of social media traffic generated, this time of year (as well as March for the same reason in college basketball) is fascinating for fans to follow. However, for the parties involved (the coaches, administrators, and media) it can prove to be frustrating, mostly wasteful, and absolutely time consuming. Unfortunately it's a part of this business and all involved have jobs to perform, mostly at the disdain of each other.
But Ball State football has come through these past few days strong and moving forward is in a much better position both in the near future, as well as 2014.
Lembo and some of his players visited the site of the GoDaddy Bowl (Mobile, Ala.) earlier this week, as the Cardinals prepare to make program history next month. Ball State has never won a bowl game in its history, yet it should have its permanent head coach in place to guide it against Arkansas State.
Not having to replace Lembo, his coaching staff, its graduating defensive line, and the most prolific quarterback (Keith Wenning) in its history will certainly give the program a boost forward into spring football and later the 2014 season.
The Cardinals have offensive weapons returning in abundance for their new coordinator (coordinator Rich Skrosky left the Ball State offense to be the head coach at Elon University Wednesday). And Ball State also will have more depth in the backside of its defense than it has enjoyed in years.
The 2014 schedule has only one “guarantee game,” with that being an early game at Iowa, while a road game at Army, as well as a home game with Colgate, are both viewed as opportunities for a win.
The future looked precarious for this program just days ago, but a lot can change – and did – virtually overnight. With Lembo still calling Yorktown home, at least for now, all throughout Cardinal Nation can rest easier tonight.