The college football season is almost upon us. If the butterflies aren’t already fluttering in your stomach, you are 1) probably not a college football fan, or 2) dead.
If it’s the first, I do wonder what compelled you to click on this link. (Thanks, by the way!) If you suspect it may be the latter, then by all means keep reading, and we appreciate your loyalty to us, even in the afterlife. (Though, you should consult a spiritualist about how this is possible.)
Since I started writing for this blog in 2016, in addition to being a fan of my particular teams in my particular sports (Go Rockets Football!), I have become a fan of the whole damn conference. P.J. Fleck taught me that... sorta. So aside from my personal preferences, my butterflies extend to Ball State Cardinals football team.
As we all know, the Cardinals finished the season ranked last year. So did Buffalo, in what was a great year for the conference. Alright, but back on topic.... In preseason, the Cardinals received votes in both polls. So that got me thinking, how good can this season be for the Cardinals, and the conference as a whole? We all know that the magic that was the Western Michigan Broncos’ illustrious 2016 season affected the whole conference, with their New Year Bowl payout and all.
I already knew the answer. However, I decided to see if the Broncos were receiving votes in the preseason in 2016. They were not, though the Toledo Rockets were. (Again, GO ROCKETS!) A ranking the year before, plus because they are already on the radar of coaches and media in the preseason polls, the Cardinals are ahead of that 2016 WMU team. At least in that regard. So next I decided to look at the roster.
While I admit I already knew there is no Corey Davis, they’ve got someone who can catch as many eyes if they keep up their pace. Drew Plitt is a solid, but not spectacular QB. He is a bit of a gamer and, oh, look at this, a 6th year senior. (Prior to COVID, I would have no idea what that meant.)
Going down the list of the skill positions it’s a roster oozing with experience, Will Jones, R-SR, Tye Evans, R-JR(damn near a rookie), Yo’Heinz Tyler SR, Justin Hall 5th SR. Holy cow, that’s a lot of experience. Then we go to the Tight End and Fullback, both 6th year seniors (and instrumental at picking up blitzes.) The offensive line, while also averaging over 300lbs, is also 2 6th year seniors, a 5th year senior, and 2 R-JR(or seniors). Holy cow. This team is loaded with veterans on offence.
The defense is also full of experienced players, including super-senior super safety Bryce Cosby, a youthful 5th year senior. All of this has greatly increased my butterflies for the season. A few years back, I called for a breakout year for the Cardinals, and that may have been a bit of a curse, as they were hammered by injuries. I actually thought it might be the end of the line for Mike Neu, but that didn’t happen.
But I like to look at things in an optimistic light; perhaps I didn;t curse them, so much as decalre they were going to break out too early. The’ve proven they can do it in a shortened season. Now, we could be on the verge of an fantastical season from Ball State.
“But Rocket,” you ask, confused. “Why did I bring Alabama and the NFL into this conversation with the headline?”
Well, dear reader, it’s a bit complicated. I firmly believe Alabama, as great as they are, couldn’t beat the Jaguars, or any crappy NFL team. The difference between 19 and 21 isn’t great, but 19 and 23 is a lifetime. Ball State has a lot of players that are drinking age or even getting a break on car insurance age, and that matters. The Cardinals could flop... but, I liek to think the parallels are there to mimic that magical year by the Broncos and find themselves in a NY6 bowl. Their opponent might just be a classic power team that is disappointed in not making the playoffs. Their roster might be loaded with 20 year olds, not accustomed to defeat, that might be upset that the guy that was in front of him on the roster a year ago is a 21 year old millionaire, that might be so uninterested in the NY6 bowl that he is going to defer playing for an 18 year old kid with limited snaps.
What I’m saying is: anything is possible. And if you’re Ball State— or any MAC team for that matter— why wouldn’t you try to aim for the stars? 2020 proved to us that anything was possible in the Mid-American Conference. Who’s to say that 2021 cannot be full of similar, if not more outlandish possibilities?
I call upon you fans of college football to dream with me; to dream of a playoff appearance for the Ball State Cardinals (or my beloved Toledo Rockets, either would work for me.) Or any other MAC team, for that matter. Because more #MACtion is better than less #MACtion. That’;s my mantra.
And it should be yours too.