Do you guys think we'll see a different offensive approach now that Nate is gone? Or will it be the same sort of style?
Alan: I think we'll see a similar style eventually, but I think initially you'll see a very vanilla Ball State team. If I recall, BSU certainly sort of went through the motions in their early season games last year. And certainly, game 10 was much different than game 2 in terms of approach. The interesting thing this year is the offensive side of the football for the Cardinals will need some time for experience, meshing, and just getting used to the rigors of D1 football, so expect a heavy dose of MiQuale early and often against the New Hampshires, North Texases, and the Armys. Then once Kelly Page and the o-line get used to things, I think you'll see Stan open it up a bit. The first true test of whether or not BSU can function on Stan's system will be at Auburn.
Edge: Like Alan said, plenty of Quale-Time. This o-line will need to just get some reps in and make sure their assignments are second nature. I think we'll see a substantial amount of carries for Quale, and I'm not expecting anything over 150 yards passing from Page.
(RV conspicuously absent from this week's mailbag. Blame it on that thing called "real life" and subsequent non-blogtacular work - Ed.)
Why does Ball State feel the need to schedule such rinky dink opponents to start the season? Doesn't this hurt us in the long run?
Alan: For the same reason Kansas State, Michigan, and Florida used to schedule Ball State. The simple reality is you have 8 conference games with equally matched talent. Therefore, to get to the magic wins needed for Bowl eligibility, you have to get in where you fit in and part of that is scheduling a couple of teams, on paper, that you can easily handle. I think the current structure (this year's) of two fairly easy games, one road game you should win, and one road game against a tough "name" opponent is perfect for the Cardinals, and I hope that sort of scheduling continues.
Edge: This seems like a bigger deal than it actually is. All but 32 FBS teams had at least one FCS opponent in 2008. And, up until recently, Ball State has been viewed as such against BCS schools. Alan said it best when you have to try to get in where you fit in. Ball State has to play the North Texases, the New Hampshires, and the Armys. Without it, we may never get a chance to play that #9 team in the ACC in January.
Alan: And really, nothing says "success" like a date with NC State during the second to last game of the season in Mobile, AL.
For college football in general, who do you feel is the best coach in the country? Barring Stan of course!
Alan: I think it's hard to argue with results, and to me, there are two coaches who bring title experience, recruiting excellence, and flash to the equation. Those two? Urban Meyer of Florida and Pete Carrol of USC. Now, this opinion may change once Meyer no longer has St. Tebowchild on the sidelines, and Carrol's legacy may be tarnished pending the results of the NCAA investigation into the Reggie Bush fiasco, but I have to believe at this juncture, those two are the best. Guys like Mack Brown, Bob Stoops, Jim Tressel, and Charlie Weis are close behind.
Edge: Am I the only guy that thinks Charlie Weis should never be even honorably mentioned as a "best coach"? Anyway... Urban Meyer is my pick. I also think that Chris Peterson at Boise has some serious talent (even though he plays some pretty cupcake teams). Honorable mention goes to Stoops, Leach, Carroll, Tressel, and the Sabanator - the man knows defense.
Alan: Charlie had a ton of success his first couple of years at ND and admittedly a lak of success the last couple. And largely because of his own attitude and where he coaches, the haters come out of the woodwork. I think the guys a quality individual and a good coach, and I think ultimately, this coming season will be the barometer for the Weis experiment in South Bend. This year will tell us whether the early Weis years were the norm or the anomaly.
Edge: I like Notre Dame. My grandfather is a ND fanatic. I have no problem with where he coaches. He just isn't that great of a coach. I'd feel the same way about him if he coached Michigan or Middle Tennessee State. And, I know I'm opening a can of worms here, but my feeling is that true success in CFB can't be measured until you're coaching the talent you and your staff recruited. Refer to the Bill Lynch Experience, circa 1996-2000. Bowl to cellar in no time. ND is expected to have a very good year this year. I wouldn't be surprised at 10-3. But that wouldn't change my mind about Weis until he did it a few years in a row. As it stands now, I couldn't honestly compare Weis to Brown, Stoops, Leach, Tressel, etc. It wouldn't be right.
In your guys' opinion, is BSU destined to be a midmajor? Can we ever really become a national power?
Alan: I personally think it will be exceptionally difficult for BSU to elevate itself as anything other than a midmajor given the circumstances beyond their control. They are a somewhat younger institution, they play in a non-BCS conference, and they don't have a large national alumni base which demands television appearances, good ticket sales, etc. Now having said that, there is no reason why they can't take the Utah or Boise State route and simply be an elite mid-major. As we've seen recently, elite midmajors have just as good a credibility as many BCS conference schools.
Edge: Funny because I just read a book that dealt with predestination in a class society... Ball State is groomed to be a mid-major and always will be. It would be nice in a perfect world that we could have a shot at joining a BCS conference, but it's just not going to happen. We received a lot of notoriety this past year, but I fear that it's a short-lived thing. We could be the best mid-major school, but we'll always be just that - a mid-major school.
You have the chance to have lunch with anyone associated with college football in any capacity. Who do you choose and where do you go?
Alan: If this were IFC's Party of Five or whatever that show is where they sit people down, I would have a long list to choose from. I think I'd like to pull from all facets of the game, and as such, will limit my list to simply people alive. For the media coverage of college football, I'd reserve a place for Kirk Herbstreit. Knowledgeable, energetic, loves the game. For the coaching perspective, I'd take Mike Leach. To me, there is no coach that is more free speaking, entertaining, or insightful than Leach. For the player perspective, I'd go with Tim Tebow. Love him or hate him, the man is an enigma. And frankly, I'd like to see if privately he's different. For the final spot, I'd go with someone for sheer entertainment... Jared Lorenzen. And the virtual guarantee that we won't have to worry about pesky things like leftovers. As for a restaurant of choice, I think I'd have to rock my favorite Muncie destination... Scotty's Brewhouse. The one place I actually make a "must visit" on my trips back to BSU. God help the servers who don't bring Lorenzen his Dill Chips fast enough.
Edge: Well, since Alan picked half of college football, I guess there's little left. Ok, for the media, I'd like to eat with Lee Corso. He'd be a riot, much less annoying than someone like Dick Vitale, and could you imagine him on a beer buzz? Hide the waitresses. For a head coach, I'm going to have to resurrect the dead and call on Bear Bryant. Not only do I dig that hat, but the man was a coaching God. Who wouldn't want to hear what he had to say? If my voodoo magic failed and I couldn't resurrect him, I'd have to go with Kevin Smith of the University of Houston. I'd only have to ask him when he's going to make another decent movie... did he shoot his wad with Clerks? As for a player, I'd like to have lunch with Sam Bradford. I feel he'd be less annoying than Tebow and would probably spend a considerably less amount of time talking about religion and how wonderful he is. Where would we eat? The best place on Earth: Maggie's Galley Oyster Bar in Waynesville, NC.
Alan: Sam Bradford, huh? Make sure there isn't any portly journalists hiding under the table.
What say you, dear reader? Comment section....