Like it or not, there isn’t a lot of staying power among MAC head coaches. Of the 11 currently employed coaches in the 13-team league, one has been on the job longer than five years – Ohio’s Frank Solich, a 69-year-old that spent a half-dozen years on the mountaintop at Nebraska. He’s the outlier. Only four of the 13 schools have employed their current head coach for longer than three seasons.
In many cases, most MAC head coaches are on the way out the door the second they take the job. Win, and you’re heading out the front door to a job in a bigger conference. Lose, and you’re out the back door. It’s no one’s picture perfect version of reality, but it is reality.
One person who accepts this reality is Ball State athletics director Bill Scholl.
“You accept it to a degree,” Scholl told the Fort Wayne (Ind.) News-Sentinel. “You know that it’s going to happen. We do everything that we can to keep them here as long as we can. We try to make the job as pleasant and rewarding as possible, both in the little things that make the job fun, and the bigger things like salary and those sorts of things.
“We’ll do everything within our power to keep our good coaches as long as we can keep them.”
Scholl’s head football coach, Pete Lembo, is 24-12 in three seasons in Muncie. He’s taken a program that went 6-18 in the two seasons prior to his arrival to back-to-back bowl trips after a 6-6 debut in 2011. Which, of course, means his name has been linked to every available job short of the Brooklyn Nets.
While Scholl and every single person in Cardinal red and black would prefer to keep Lembo, just like Central Michigan would’ve loved to keep Brian Kelly and Bowling Green would’ve loved to hang on to Urban Meyer, it’s just not reality.
So how should the Ball State community take it when a coach moves on? As a compliment, Scholl says.
“I think that Ball State (fans) should take pride in the fact that in the last several years, we’ve lost coaches to Michigan, Ohio State, Arizona State… I think that it is a sign of great respect for our program when our coaches are moving on to those kinds of jobs.
“At the end of the day, our good coaches are going to have opportunities that we just can’t match.”
In our opinion, this is a great thing for Ball State. When the coaching community sees Brady Hoke and Pete Lembo succeed and move on to a bigger job, it makes the Ball State job more attractive to talented coaches. When your school becomes a proven springboard to the BCS, other coaches want to become the next Hoke and the next Lembo.