Ball State will make head coach Pete Lembo the highest paid coach in the MAC as part of a five-year contract extension. According to Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com, who was first to report the contract extension, Ball State will also improve various aspects of the football program to provide for future growth.
The contract extension at Ball State comes after the third season under Lembo. In that time Ball State has improved on the season win total each year. In 2013 the Cardinals went 10-3 and finished second in the MAC West behind Northern Illinois. Ball State went to their second straight bowl game under Lembo, but so far they are 0-2 in the postseason. A lack of postseason victories aside, Lembo has shown signs of improvement in the program each season and has put some of his players in position to be some of the best in the conference.
Keith Wenning excelled at quarterback, leading the MAC in pass completions, passing yards, passing touchdowns and completion percentage last fall. Willie Snead led the conference in receptions and receiving yards as well as receiving touchdowns. The defense improved as well. Last fall Ball State had the third highest positive average point differential in the MAC, trailing only MAC champion Bowling Green and Northern Illinois.
This is a great move by Ball State. Lembo’s success with the program has made him an attractive coaching candidate that will be looked at by other programs from power conferences in the next round of the coaching carousel, especially if he can continue to find ways to improve on the field this upcoming season. While a contract extension will not necessarily keep Lembo from leaving one day for a higher paying opportunity at a power conference program, adding that security and comfort for Lembo is a no-brainer that will hopefully make him think hard before possibly leaving.
In filling a hole on his Vanderbilt football coaching staff, Derek Mason turned to an assistant with extensive experience in the SEC.
Tuesday, Vandy announced the addition of Tony Ball to Mason’s on-field staff. Moving forward, Ball will serve as the Commodores’ wide receiver.
Ball will replace Aaron Moorehead, who left for a job with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles.
As previously noted, Ball certainly has a deep history in the conference to which he’s coming. From 2006-14, he was the wide receivers coach (2009-14) and running backs coach (2006-08) at Georgia. In 2015, he was Les Miles’ receivers coach at LSU.
His other Power Five experience came as receivers coach at Virginia Tech from 1998-05.
“Tony Ball is a quality man who brings a wealth of experience and coaching success to our staff. We’ve attracted one of the nation’s top receivers coaches in Tony,” the Vanderbilt football head coach said in a statement. “Tony has been part of several successful programs, including Georgia, LSU and Virginia Tech. With Tony, we are getting a coach with a long track record of bringing the best out in his student-athletes.”
This past season, Ball served as the receivers coach and passing-game coordinator at UT-San Antonio. The two years prior to that, he was Louisiana Tech’s running backs coach.
Vanderbilt football is coming off a 3-9 season, its worst record since posting the same mark in Mason’s first season in 2014. In November of last year, athletic director Malcolm Turner confirmed Mason would be returning for the 2020 season. Three months later, Turner abruptly resigned his post.
Arkansas will host Louisiana Tech on Nov. 23, 2024, the programs announced Tuesday.
The game will be at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
The meeting will be the fifth between the border neighbors. Arkansas has won the previous four, most recently taking a 21-20 decision in Fayetteville in 2016. The programs’ first meeting came in Ruston way back in 1901, a 16-0 Hogs victory. The two in-between meetings, in 1996 and ’97, both came in Little Rock.
The game completes Arkansas’s 2024 non-conference schedule. The Razorbacks previously arranged an Aug. 31 home date with Arkansas-Pine Bluff, a Sept. 7 visit to Oklahoma State and a Sept. 14 home game with Kent State.
Louisiana Tech still has one blank slate for the 2024 campaign. The Bulldogs are slated to visit NC State on Sept. 7 and host Tulsa two weeks after that.
As an independent, scheduling is a never-ending battle for Army, and the Black Knights scored a victory on Tuesday.
Tulsa announced it has agreed to a 4-game series with West Point, beginning in 2025. The series will begin Sept. 13, 2025 at Michie Stadium, then head to Tulsa on Sept. 19, 2026. The series will move later in the fall for the return trip to West Point — Nov. 13, 2027 — and then wrap up Oct. 21, 2028 at Tulsa’s Chapman Stadium.
The programs have met just once previously, a 49-39 Golden Hurricane victory on Nov. 17, 2007 at West Point.
Tulsa has two games on the slate already for each of the four seasons: at Oklahoma State and vs. Louisiana Tech in 2025; vs. Oklahoma State and at Arkansas in ’26; vs. Arkansas and at Oklahoma State in ’27; and then at Louisiana-Lafayette and home against Oklahoma State in 2028.
Army now has 10 games on the docket for 2025 and ’26, seven for 2027 and eight for 2028.
The SEC is famously incestuous in its hiring practices, and within that large, cross-bred family is a series of clans that really like to hire off of each other. For instance, South Carolina likes to hire former Georgia players and coaches, and Georgia likes to hire away from Alabama.
And Texas A&M and LSU really like to hire each others’ people, with most of the traffic going east to west.
On Monday, TexAgs owner Billy Liucci reported that Texas A&M is set to hire LSU running backs coach Tommie Robinson for the same post in College Station.
At A&M, Robinson will work for former LSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher and former LSU tight ends coach Darrell Dickey and alongside former LSU wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig.
(By the way, A&M also employs former Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Henson as its offensive line coach and former Georgia offensive coordinator James Coley as its tight ends coach.)
LSU’s running backs coach from 2017-19, Robinson helped develop Clyde Edwards-Helaire and sign 4-star Chris Curry (2018), 5-star John Emery, Jr. (2019) and 4-star Tyrion Davis-Price (2019). For that, he was the highest-paid running backs coach in the nation at $600,000 per year.
Presumably, he crossed state and enemy lines for a hefty raise.
With Robinson out the door, LSU moved quickly in tabbing former Tiger Kevin Faulk as its new running backs coach. The school’s all-time leading rusher with 4,557 yards and 46 touchdowns, Faulk was already on staff as director of player development.