Passing the baton: Kevin Lynch builds on his family's legacy with Ball State Football

<p>Now-Ball State offensive coordinator Kevin Lynch assists his father, Bill, in carrying cords on the Scheumann Stadium sidelines. Bill Lynch became the Cardinals&#x27; offensive coordinator in 1990 — a position Kevin now holds. <strong>Kelly Manor, photo provided. </strong></p>

Now-Ball State offensive coordinator Kevin Lynch assists his father, Bill, in carrying cords on the Scheumann Stadium sidelines. Bill Lynch became the Cardinals' offensive coordinator in 1990 — a position Kevin now holds. Kelly Manor, photo provided.

Football is more than a game for Kevin Lynch.

Watching his dad, Bill Lynch, work as Ball State Football’s offensive coordinator and head coach in the ‘90s, Kevin knew he wanted to pursue a career in football at an early age. 

When Bill Lynch became Ball State’s offensive coordinator in 1990, the team’s head coach, Paul Schudel, often allowed coaches’ kids to hang out in the locker room and visit with players. This gave Kevin a feel of his dad’s work environment. 

Five years later, Bill became the team’s head coach, and young Kevin spent his Saturday afternoons in the fall assisting his father on Scheumann Stadium’s sideline, carrying cords, headphones and listening to him call plays.

“I guess I had more of a unique childhood than I would’ve thought,” he said. “You live your life, and you think things are pretty normal. As I’ve gotten older, the things that I was able to get to do at a young age were pretty cool.” 

Fast forward to 2020. Kevin’s older brother, Joey Lynch, left Ball State after 2019 to accept the offensive coordinator position at Colorado State. This meant the Cardinals had a hole to fill at offensive coordinator themselves. 

Yet it was one Lynch to another for Ball State. 

Working for the Cardinals since 2016 as the team’s running backs coach, head coach Mike Neu — who Kevin watched play quarterback under his dad — promoted him to take his brother’s place.

“It’s something that I definitely don’t feel pressured about but something I take tremendous pride in,” Kevin said. “I would never take it for granted, and I’m super excited to do the job.”

Kevin is the third member of his family to work as Ball State’s offensive coordinator, following Bill (1990-92) and Joey (2014-19). 

“It’s pretty special,” he said. “I don’t know if anyone in the country could ever say that at this level.”

Growing up and seeing the excitement within Ball State’s locker room inspired Kevin to play football as a child. He played youth football as a third-grader, and his oldest brother, Billy Lynch — who played for the Cardinals under his dad — coached the team. 

Later on, Kevin played while attending Delta High School. There, he spent his Friday nights under the lights, playing for the Eagles under then-head coach Grant Zgunda, who is now the school’s athletic director. 

It was Kevin’s high school years when he figured he wouldn’t crack the NFL, but he said that was OK with him. Inspired by his father and Billy, who became a graduate assistant for Miami (Ohio) after his graduation Kevin knew he wanted to coach.

“From football, athletics, other areas of life….[Kevin’s] always been well-rounded and has always had a really good perspective,” Billy Lynch said. “You knew that if he decided to go the coaching route, it would be something that would serve him well.”

Billy was a multisport athlete at Ball State, as he also played on the school’s men’s basketball team, but he gravitated toward football. He enjoyed hitting the gridiron for practice more than he did the hardwood.

“I figured, ‘If I’m going to be doing it every day, you practice a lot more than you play,’” he said. 

In his second season coaching the RedHawks, Billy Lynch helped lead Miami (Ohio) to a Mid-American Conference Championship — led by now-Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. In 2005, he became the wide receivers coach at Indiana University, which coincided with the hiring of Bill Lynch as the Hoosiers’ offensive coordinator/tight ends coach. 

However, it was 2009 that marked a turning point for Kevin, Billy and their father. 

After graduating from Franklin College in Franklin, Indiana, Kevin became the Hoosiers' offensive quality control coach. He joined Billy and his father, who was entering his third season as the Hoosiers’ head coach.

While Billy played under his father at Ball State, they were now colleagues from a coaching standpoint. Fresh off his graduation, Kevin was there to join them.

“[Billy and Kevin] in that meeting room in the same time….that was a great experience,” Bill Lynch said. “I probably didn’t appreciate it as much at the time. You’re so ramped up in what you’re doing.” 

Bill’s two sons weren’t the only familiar faces on his staff. Former Cardinal center and 2003 Ball State graduate, Colin Johnson, was Indiana’s offensive graduate assistant coach. 

Like Billy, Johnson played under Bill’s wing at Scheumann Stadium. For Kevin, though, it was his first season working with Johnson. This formed a bond and a positive working relationship.  

Ten years later, Johnson returned to Ball State. He is now in his second season as the Cardinals’ running game coordinator/offensive line coach, reuniting with Kevin. 

“Some of the things we learned about college football, not just the X’s and O's, but how you recruit and communicate with players is very cool,” Kevin said. “We have so many similarities that way.” 

Following one season with the Hoosiers, Kevin spent six seasons working for the University of Indianapolis as an assistant coach before joining the Cardinals. This opportunity gave him some unique credentials for his resume. 

Having played for a Division III school (Franklin) and coaching at both Division II (University of Indianapolis) and Division I levels (Indiana), Kevin had experienced all three levels of college football. His father — who spent 42 years coaching prior to his retirement in 2019 — said this served him well. 

“The experience of coaching at different levels makes you a better coach, especially when you’re young,” Bill Lynch said. “He had completely different experiences at each one, but I think it’s really prepared him well for what he’s doing now.”

After coaching at DePauw University for seven seasons, Bill retired last November. Taking time off from the game has allowed him to reflect on his time coaching. 

“I honestly appreciate it more than I did a year ago,” he said. “I was still coaching football, so you’re totally ramped up in your job. You talk to your sons and hear about the game plan, but your mind’s totally on your game.”

Bill recently moved back to Muncie from his residence in Heritage Lake, Indiana, to spend more time with his family and grandchildren. Ranging from 21 to 1 in age, he said, nearly all of them play at least one sport. Along with his three sons, Bill also has one daughter, Kelly. 

“As I look back on it, I have great respect for Ball State,” Bill Lynch said. “I had a great administration to work with. We had a staff that stayed together and some really good guys.” 

Unlike his two brothers, Billy Lynch is not currently coaching. However, he resides in Muncie and has attended both Ball State home games so far this season.

Bundling up on a couple of cold November weeknights and watching the Cardinals as a fan, he joked about some of the struggles that come from coaching and the toll it can take on family life. 

“My sister was laughing at my dad and I, because I didn’t say to my wife, ‘This is what I put you through for 15 years?’” Billy Lynch said with a laugh.  

Following his father’s footsteps, Kevin leads a Cardinal offense averaging 34.4 points per game. While the pandemic has made this season a little more unconventional, he said he enjoys the job and the everyday challenges it presents. 

“We’ve got a lot of guys back, but our team is totally different than it was last year,” Kevin said. “You just never know what you’re going to have year after year, putting those pieces together.”

Contact Connor Smith with comments at cnsmith@bsu.edu or on Twitter @cnsmith_19.



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