A case could easily be made that there is no bigger mystery in the MidAmerican Conference football ranks for the 2016 season than the Ball State Cardinals. Between new coaches, new schemes, and a significant departure of talent, it is not hyperbole when I tell you that there is literally no outcome that would surprise me all that much. Over .500 with an outside shot at a bowl berth? Possible. 1-11 with a dismal performance all around? Also equally possible.
On the offensive side, Jordan Williams is gone and KeVonn Mabon becomes the primary target on which the success or failure of the passing game relies. Riley Neal is back at QB, and fans hope that his leash is significantly longer to showcase the immense amount of talent that has been whispered about for a while. The rushing game returns everyone of note with James Gilbert and Darius Green shouldering much of the load, though the loss of four starters on the offensive line is going to be felt, most likely in the rush attack which will impact the passing game. So there's that.
Defensively, the Cardinals couldn't get much worse. The problem is that dreadful unit is bringing back a majority of the personnel from last year. New coordinator Tim Daoust has a titanic job but players to accomplish success with the right motivation, a theme that could be carried out to all units of the BSU program.
2016 is going to come down to the coaching staff and how they get the most out of their program. For years there have been rumblings about a staff and program that had organizational dysfunction masked by wins and bowls. When those things weren't present, the house tumbled. Neu is likely to change that, and in reality, has to if the Cardinals are to have any sort of longterm success.
You can hear all of what's happening in Muncie and take your first look at the Cardinals' 2016 edition with the video below, courtesy of Ball State athletics.