FULL-COURT PRESS: Ball State players focused on winning, not coaching changes

Senior tight end Zane Fakes celebrates a touchdown during the Miami game Nov. 29. DN PHOTO JESSICA MIKSANEK
Senior tight end Zane Fakes celebrates a touchdown during the Miami game Nov. 29. DN PHOTO JESSICA MIKSANEK

Football players win games.

Forget preparation, it’s up to the athletes to make plays on game day. Strangely though, they don’t always get the credit.

Coaches serve as a voice for their programs and ultimately take responsibility for the team’s successes and failures. It’s easy to forget that the coaches can only take athletes to water, but they can’t make them drink.

Senior tight end Zane Fakes said players can’t put too much stock into who is coaching them.

“No matter what happens, us – we as players – are going to have to go out and play,” he said. “At the end of the day it’s us who is going to go out and either look good or look bad.”

After three seasons at Ball State, Pete Lembo has put himself in position to move to a bigger school. The Cardinals finished the 2013 regular season with a 10-2 record, earning an invitation to the GoDaddy Bowl on Sunday.

Ball State’s trip to Mobile, Ala., for a chance at its first bowl victory was set in stone Dec. 8. Lembo’s future with the team – uncertain as he was rumored to be interviewing for other jobs – was a much different story.

Even today, his future with the team isn’t certain. It would be easy for players to lose focus and concern themselves with the decisions being made regarding Lembo’s future.

Like Lembo preaches though, his players are staying focused solely on the here and now. There is one game left this season – maybe just one game left in the Lembo era.

They knew there was a chance he wouldn’t be back, and Ball State players were prepared to play without him.

There shouldn’t be much indecision for Lembo in accepting a job offer from a bigger school. He’d instantly see more money, more prestige and recognition and the possibility for an even bigger job in the future.

When offensive coordinator Rich Skrosky left Ball State to accept the head coaching position at Elon University, it drew applause from players. They congratulated him on taking a step up and working into a better position.

Skrosky was close with many of the team’s athletes. Coaches and players have downplayed the adjustments made in light of his departure.

Things are still flowing without Skrosky because the in-house promotions filling his role know the system as well as players. It’s just a matter of sticking to it, and to this point, players have done that.

Lembo stands to gain by departing from Ball State, but what would leave behind?

A group of players with a very practical understanding of the system he’s put in place. The same group that learned from years riddled with losses just how valuable wins are.

That’s not to say Lembo isn’t important to this team’s success because he is. Lembo’s value lies in the system he’s established at Ball State.

Whether Ball State wins Sunday, Lembo deserves credit for bringing Ball State to this level.

Just don’t forget about the players.

Dakota Crawford is a junior journalism and telecommunications major and writes ‘Full-Court Press’ for the Daily News. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper or The Daily.
Write to Dakota at dmcrawford@bsu.edu


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