“For me, entering Year 13 as a head coach, I have that sense that we are truly in some ways starting over,” Ball State coach Pete Lembo said. “With some new guys in the lineup, there are some big challenges relative to the different group that we have.”
The 2013 theme was created by the Cardinals' leadership council and didn't have its roots in the Jimmy Buffett tune by the same name. In fact, it is as far from a laid back-based mantra as it could possibly be.
“It's borrowed from the (military) special forces,” Lembo explained. “The thought process was that the 'Anything' means I'll do whatever it takes. The 'Anytime' is really about life in the (Mid-American Conference). You have to play on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday, at noon or 2 or 3 or 7 or 8. The 'Anywhere' is that we have to play at Oklahoma or Clemson and then have to play (within the league) and could be at opposite ends of the spectrum.”
In many regards, Lembo finds himself with a much easier task as he takes to the snow-covered field today. Entering his third spring, he and his coaching staff have instilled into the Cardinal players not just expectations to adhere to when involved in football, but his players are to follow a certain path every minute of every day.
“When you put 'Anything, Anytime, Anywhere' all together,” Lembo explained, “it gets back to the culture, the lifestyle of just understanding that this is what we do and how we do it. It's not something that you turn on and off.”
The Cardinals return an abundance of experience, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. Lembo will have six senior starters offensively, as well as three-year starters Jahwan Edwards (running back) and Willie Snead (wide receiver).
“We really try to convey to the kids,” Lembo said, “that it's a balance between the confidence that comes from the foundation that you've put in place, but also the being grounded sense of starting all over again.”
Ball State is coming off a 9-4 (6-2 MAC) season that culminated with an appearance in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl in December in St. Petersburg, Fla. It was the program's first bowl appearance since 2008.
Lembo's team will open the 2013 season with a home game against Illinois State on Aug. 29.
“To me, what a special year means is when your team reaches its potential,” Lembo said. “I don't know what our potential is yet. We'll have a better idea what we are capable of as we go through spring and preseason. But really, we will continue to focus on us and being as good as we can be.”