MUNCIE - Ball State football coach Pete Lembo spoke with the media on Wednesday regarding the Cardinals' upcoming game at Northern Illinois, which will play a significant role in determining which team advances to the Mid-American Conference Championship Game next month in Detroit.
The Cardinals (9-1, 6-0 MAC) beat Central Michigan (44-24 on Wednesday at Schuemann Stadium, and will travel to Northern Illinois (9-0, 5-0) for the nationally televised game (8 p.m., ESPN2).
Here were Lembo's thoughts:
On not looking ahead to the game with the Huskies:
"It gets back to the lifestyle and the culture. You can't give in to the periphery. I got asked a question at the luncheon (on Tuesday) about somebody that we've got to play down the road. That's what's going on out ther (in the public), but that doesnt mean that we need to give into that inside this building. And I won't."
On the three principles he's based the program on:
"There are three things that I never want to give into as a coach. This goes back to what we do everyday.
"One is, that it's tough to play on the road. You've got to play half your games on the road. So, you go play, right? Anywhere. It doesn't matter if it's 75,000 people or 7,500.
"The second thing that I don't adhere to is looking ahead. Don't let it happen. Don't acknowledge this stuff (in the public). Alright?
"And then the third thing is that let-down games stuff. What is that? I don't know what that is. You get 12 of these opportunities. You work your butt off for 365 days to get 12 of these opportunities. That's stuff that (the media) makes up, as far as I'm concerned. You know what I mean? I really don't believe in it.
"So those are three things that I think tangibly reflect on the culture that we have and what we expect out of these guys. We sort of live that way everyday, then you've got a chance to keep them focused when they get put in this situation (with a big upcoming game)."
On focusing on Central Michigan, not Northern illinois:
"When (the media) all they are talking about is some team that we've got to play down the road, but we came out ready to go tonight. So the players lived (that philosophy), as far as I'm concerned. They lived it.
"Now they may not have lived it for all 60 minutes, and that's kind of what I told them afterwards. But we came out with guns blazing tonight. "We were focused on Central Michigan. We respect Central Michigan and their talent and their physicality and how well prepared they are and we came out to play Central Michigan tonight.
"All of this other stuff? That's for (the media). That's for (the media). I don't even want to talk about who we are playing next week until we wrap this thing up."