"I have had a number of personal family issues that have come up and made this decision one that is necessary for me at this time," Graber says. "I truly enjoyed my time at Ball State and will miss the young men and the staff for whom I have a great amount of respect. Coach Parrish gave me a great opportunity and we are lifelong friends, so I will always treasure this year we had together at Ball State. We had a lot of young kids on defense, and I truly believe we continued to improve throughout the year. The time was just right for my wife and I to return to Florida to take care of our family."
Graber completed his 35th year as a football coach last fall for the Cardinals. He was also a member of the Ball State football coaching staff in 1976 when the Cardinals won their first Mid-American Conference Championship, and was a defensive assistant on the 1977 team which ranked ninth in the nation in total defense. In his career, Graber also served as the head coach at Montana State (1982), Rutgers (1990-95) and for the Frankfurt Galaxy (2001-03) in NFL Europe. He coached in the National Football League for the Kansas City Chiefs (1983-86), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1987-89) and New York Jets (2004). Graber coached six NFL All-Pro defensive backs with the Chiefs and served as Tampa Bay's defensive coordinator in 1988 when the team led the NFL in rushing defense. He compiled a 68-58-3 overall head coaching record at the high school, college and professional level.
"Coach Graber was a great fit for our staff and was an outstanding mentor to our defensive coaches," Parrish says. "We will miss his contributions to the team, but he has his priorities in order and is doing what his best for his family. He will always be considered a part of the Ball State family and we wish him well in his retirement."
The search for a new defensive coordinator will begin immediately, according to Parrish. The Cardinals begin Spring Practice March 24.