"The most satisfying part of my experience at Ball State has been the daily interaction with our players from when we first arrived right up to the present day," Lembo says. "It has been a true team approach since "day one" with everyone in the organization from top to bottom. Our coaches have put the players first and they have responded by buying into our plan and vision for the program. We have been honest with each other about the challenges we face here, as well as, fixing some of the problems we inherited. Our staff’s involvement in academics and the personal development of our players has helped us build trust, chemistry and unity very quickly. We have also worked hard to develop leadership skills in our players. This has paid off with good captains and a leadership council that provides me with meaningful feedback. Each member of the team has benefitted from the Olympic style strength and conditioning program and Coach Dave Feeley’s leadership in that area. We have a long way to go to build a complete program, but you cannot argue with the progress we have made on and off the field in just two years. I believe winning games is a by-product of the culture we have created here in the Fisher Football Complex.
"As we enter our third spring at Ball State, I am very pleased we have been able to maintain a high level of continuity on the coaching staff," Lembo says. "Previous teams at Ball State had to deal with the unknowns of new coordinators and position coaches on almost a yearly basis. That is tough on an 18- to 22-year-old student-athlete. We have had the same three coordinators since we arrived, so the systems, terminology and approach have been consistent in all three phases of the game. In addition, we have had eight of nine assistants return each year. That is way above average for the Mid-American Conference. So again, the players at most positions know exactly what to expect every day from their coach. Each year, we tweak what we do based on the personnel, but the consistency in terminology definitely helps the players. They understand the expectations and they know all the mantras. We are not as old across the board as I would like to be, but we do have a good nucleus of key players returning that have had success in the last two seasons. We should have slightly more seniors in the starting lineup than the last two seasons. We lose some outstanding offensive linemen, two all-conference specialists and three experienced linebackers from last year’s nine-win team. We are anxious to see who will step up in those roles, as well as, from a leadership standpoint. It has been a good offseason and several guys have gotten bigger, faster and stronger. We shall see how they perform once the rubber hits the road."